Christmas traditions

ALL CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS
CHRISTMAS TREE

In the 11th century the use of representing episodes from the Bible took hold.

During Advent the representation of a passage from the Genesis that dealt with Creation was widely required. The emblem of the story was constituted by the tree “of the knowledge of good and evil” of the Garden of Eden and given the region (Northern Europe) and the season represented a fir tree on which fruits were hung.

In 1512 in Alsace we have the first Christmas Tree which meant the figure of Jesus the Savior descended to the earth to defeat all the darkness of sin, hence the custom of adorning it with numerous lights.

CHRISTMAS CERO

The Christmas candle symbolizes Jesus as the light of the world. This custom is inspired by a liturgical phrase. In France and Great Britain it is tradition to light candles at the base to worship the Holy Trinity.

ADVENT CORONA

The Crown of Advent has pagan origins. In the sixteenth century it spread among the Christians thus becoming a tradition in the period preceding Christmas.

The Advent Wreath is a circle designed with bay leaves or fir twigs (their green color symbolizes hope, life) with four candles.
During the Advent (four weeks) a candle is lit every Sunday. According to one tradition, each candle has its own meaning: there is the candle of the prophets, the candle of Bethlehem, that of the shepherds and that of the angels. The lighting of each candle is accompanied by a moment of prayer. It ends with a song to the Mother of Jesus.

CHRISTMAS GIFTS

The custom of Christmas presents has Roman origins. On the first day of the year the king was given a twig collected in the wood of the goddess Strenna, this rite then spread among the people, but over time the twigs were replaced by real gifts.

The gift gesture signifies the love of God who gave Jesus to all of us.

CHRISTMAS STROKE

In the past it was customary to light a log of fir to be able to accept the gift of God on Earth.

THE “CHRISTMAS STAR”

In Mexico City, lived a poor Indian girl named Ines.
On Christmas Eve evening he wanted to bring a flower to Baby Jesus but he didn’t have the money to buy it. He walked down the street without knowing what to do, then decided to pick some twigs from a bush seen by chance among the ruins of a church.
After collecting them he thought of embellishing the bouquet with the only beautiful thing he had: a red bow for hair. He arrived at the church which was now dark and Ines thought he could find no one there. Once in front of Baby Jesus, he laid down his bouquet. Immediately after putting it next to the statue, he heard voices behind him: they were people who were amazed and intrigued by the beautiful Ines flower; so they asked her where she had found such a beautiful flower.
Ines turned to her bouquet and, incredulous, saw that the green leaves of the bush had turned red and the golden berries in the center had taken the shape of a heart.
Ines returned home happy thinking that Jesus had liked his gift because he had transformed it into the most beautiful flower in Mexico: the Christmas Star.

Natale…Usanze nel Mondo

Austria

In Austria the Christmas period begins with the advent. In this period the house is decorated and prepared

several biscuits and spiced bread, called “Früchtebrot”. In many homes a crown is used

Advent with four candles that are lit on four Sundays before Christmas. Many kids

they have an advent calendar to count the days until Christmas. Every day they open a window,

behind which is a small surprise. In this period some children write a letter to “Baby Jesus”

with their wishes for Christmas. On 5 or 6 December San Nicola arrives, often accompanied by the “Krampus”,

which brings small gifts to good children. In Salzburg and its surroundings there is also the custom of passing

of the “Perchten” .A tradition in Austria are the Christmas markets during the Christmas period for

feel a festive Christmas atmosphere. The tradition of “Adventsingen” is not to be forgotten in Salzburg, one of the most famous cultural events of the pre-Christmas period.

The Christmas tree is decorated with straw stars and candles.
The whole family gathers around the tree to exchange gifts.

Finlandia

Hyvaa joulua

On Christmas night the children all look out of the windows, because they know that Santa Claus does not

it will take a long time to arrive. He also lives in Finland, in an area called Lapland.

Santa Claus lives with Mamma Natale and many little helpers inside a mountain called Korvatunturi.

This mountain has three ears so that Santa can hear all the messages that come to him from all over the world. However, the entrance to the mountain is so secret that so far no one has been able to find out where it is.

His favorite reindeer is called Rudolph and he is a very special reindeer because he has a red nose that shines.

Before Christmas, Santa Claus has to read many letters and that’s why there are so many elves that help him.

Germania

Froehliche Weihnachten

In Germany it can be said that the Christmas period starts already in November. The day of Saint Martin 11/11,

that among other things also corresponds to the beginning of the carnival, the schools organize for the late afternoon of

processions where children bring lanterns, which they built with the help of the masters, and which they serve

to light up the street in San Martino. In some places there is also the tradition of going to cemeteries to bring light where there is darkness. On 6 December San Nicola arrives bringing the chocolates or little houses made to the children

with spicy pan and other goodies to eat. In the advent period garlands are made where then

in the four Sundays before Christmas candles are put on and the house is decorated. In this period many sweets are prepared like the Lebkuchen or the Christollen and spicy wine is drunk. On December 24th the tree is decorated and in the evening the Christkind arrives, the Infant Jesus, and in some places Santa Claus to deliver gifts to those who have been good.
On this day the table is garnished with particular care and the roasted goose or the blue carp is eaten.

Gran Bretagna

Merry Christmas

In England, Christmas traditions do not differ much from those in other countries. For native children

it starts as early as November when they start to write the list of gifts they want to receive and the shops decorate

the windows with Christmas themes. From December the advent calendar begins to open and two weeks before

Christmas you start decorating the house and the tree, which is embellished with lights and bows. Eve evening, the children

they hang stockings for Father Christmas and to thank him for the gifts they leave him a glass of milk and a cake

“mince pie” and the Rudolph reindeer also leave a carrot. Christmas Day is the most beautiful because it opens

all the gifts that Santa Claus left in a sack under the tree. On Christmas Day we are together with relatives

and you eat stuffed turkey with blueberries and always prepare Christmas Pudding or Christmas Cake for dessert. At 3 pm on the television there is always the Queen’s speech.

Irlanda

Merry Christmas

Once the wren hunt was a tradition followed on 26 December throughout Ireland.
The reason for such fury against this little bird is to be found in the legend that accompanies martyrdom

of Santo Stefano. It is said that the saint hid behind a bush to escape his persecutors,

but it had been discovered because of a wren that flew away from the hiding-place thus revealing the presence of the martyr.
For this reason, on December 26th of each year, groups of men remember this episode, pretending to hunt him down,

to capture him and then to lead him tied to a stick from house to house singing and begging.
Of course it is only a fiction: today no wren has to fear for his own safety, but it is anyway

widespread costume that masked men with old clothes go from house to house offering songs and entertainment.

Olanda

Vrolijk Kerstfeest

During the whole month of December in the Netherlands there is an air of celebration. San Nicola has just passed and already there

hastens to decorate the houses for the Christmas holidays with Christmas trees, garlands and countless candles.

Even the boulevards and shopping streets are decorated and the lights, Christmas songs and Santa Clauses create a

beautiful atmosphere. It goes without saying that it is a must on this holiday to have a Christmas tree and

make your home as welcoming as possible with Christmas decorations purchased in stores or homemade.

Tradition has it that Christmas day and Christmas Eve are celebrated with family, around the tree

Christmas, in front of the fireplace or gathered around the table.

ALL AT THE TABLE!

Many Dutch people become culinary experts for the occasion and prepare something special for the occasion.

There is no real traditional dish that all Dutch cook for Christmas, but chicken, turkey and

hen are the most popular dishes. Do not miss the donuts with almonds, in particular the Christmas donuts

which are hung on the tree and “stollen”: a round oval-shaped bread, stuffed with raisins,

almond paste and currant. Every occasion is good to taste it: on Christmas day at breakfast,

for lunch or as a snack. A visit to one of the traditional markets is also an opportunity to taste

hot sausages and mulled wine.

Polonia

Sarbatori vesele

In the past, we Romanians and Germans in our country did not celebrate the advent. Advent Sundays

we met with family members, but there was no difference with the other Sundays of the year.

Preparations for Christmas only started a couple of days before Christmas Eve. At school they taught us

the story of Jesus. Then usually a representation was made and each child played a role,

who impersonated Mary, who Joseph, who the donkey and so on. Even the preparation of the clothes was exciting

because our mothers sewed them. On December 24th, in the afternoon we would then go to the streets of the town and

we knocked on the doors of the houses to ask if they let us in. People usually set up in the room

a table with a white tablecloth. We children would sit around the table and recite the story of the birth of Jesus.

At the end of the exhibition almost everyone gave us money, and to the Child Jesus they also gave a gift in a small bag.

In the evening, when we were finished, we all gathered in a house to eat hot dogs and bread. Then we shared the money

and the gifts that the child Jesus had received. The Vigil had not yet ended, however, it was necessary to go to mass

and there to do again the representation of the birth of Jesus for all the faithful. When we returned home we always found

the Christmas tree decorated with candy canes and chocolates and if the parents had money left

there were also gifts. Or the next morning we found our stockings full of sweets and envelopes

full of apples and mandarins and sometimes even with coins from our godfathers. Christmas is always

It was a very nice party that we spent together with our family and our relatives.

When the communist regime in Romania was trying to keep children away from the church,

but Christmas was too good a party to give it up.

Ungheria

Boldog Karácsonyt

S. Nicola, 6 December

S.Nicola, in Hungarian: Miklós, from which comes the name Mikulás, intended as Santa Claus.
Unlike the Anglo-Saxon traditions, Mikulás does not come at Christmas, but on the day of his name day

and brings only sweets, wrapped in a red sachet, to good children and golden fraschette to the bad, of course every child receives sweets, and fraschette only as a joke. In this sense it resembles the Italian Befana.

Christmas, December 24th-26th
Similarly to other European countries, it is customary to decorate the Christmas tree, but only on Christmas Eve and not before.

As decorations, sweets are also used, usually chocolates, oval-shaped, wrapped in shiny paper.

The children find the gift, which is not attributed to Santa Claus, but to the baby Jesus, under the tree the same evening.

At midnight we go to mass.

Messico

Feliz Navidad

Christmas week is celebrated throughout the country with the “posadas”, in memory of the pilgrimage of

Giuseppe and Maria looking for a place to give birth to the child. To accompany this procession there

there are also many children who knock on door to look for shelter for Joseph and Mary.
At the end of this procession, large lunches are organized during which they break

the “pentolacce” or “piñata”, made of papier-mache and containing fruit, candied fruit and sweets.

Argentina

Feliz Navidad

Although Argentina is at the other end of the world, we can say that Christmas is celebrated just like in Italy.

The only difference is that in Argentina it is midsummer in December. The most important day is December 24,

where in the evening the whole family gathers and usually the asado is eaten, grilled meat. Then toast with

panettone and sparkling wine. Naturally in the houses the Christmas tree, a plastic tree, is decorated, because that

true it would immediately dry out. Until a few years ago the Magi brought them gifts in January and the children left

outside the door a shoe and some water and grass for the camels. In recent years it has also arrived

from us the tradition of exchanging gifts at Christmas


Svezia

God Jul

During the Christmas period the houses are decorated with decorations made of straw, with especially red flowers,

but also pink, white or light blue, and with spicy sweets that are then hung. Children use the calendar

of the advent to count the days until Christmas and every day they open a small window. the tree is decorated the day

before Christmas. On Christmas evening we eat a soup of rice, meatballs and sausages. After dinner usually

we gather around the tree to sing. Only then does Santa Claus arrive.
During the Christmas season in Sweden there is another beautiful party that is very much felt: Saint Lucia.

This festival is celebrated on December 13th when there is the winter solstice. Usually in a family it is the eldest daughter

who dresses like Saint Lucia, that is with a white tunic, a red belt and a crown with candles on her head

lit and brings a tray with sweets and offers them to the whole family

Spagna
Feliz Navidad

In Barcelona it is customary for December 28 to play tricks on someone. Gifts are exchanged on January 6th when

arrive “los Reyes”, that is the three kings, who naturally make a big arrival with the one that chaima

“la cavalcata de los reyes”; there are several in all Spanish cities, in Barcelona itself there are several

although the eldest makes them start from the sea and then ends up at the Citadel Park. Then on that day they parade

beautiful chariots with the three kings who distribute candy by pulling them down from the cart; all await them as a procession

and follow them picking up candy of all kinds behind them. Now also Santa Claus with consumerism begins to bring some presents on Christmas night, but essentially everything takes place on January 6th.

Canada

Merry Christmas

In Canada it is customary to decorate the house with Christmas decorations such as laurel wreaths, colored lights and with the Christmas tree.

The week before Christmas we write the letter to Santa Claus to tell him what gifts we want to receive.

Children also hang socks so that Santa can fill them with candy and chocolates.

In some countries there is still a tradition for children to go and sing Christmas songs at home.

As compensation, they receive a few coins, or sweets or something hot to drink (at Christmas it really does

cold and often it’s all frozen). The traditional Christmas lunch consists of stuffed turkey with side dish

of potatoes and cranberry sauce. In some families, instead of turkey, roast duck is used to cook.

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