At this busy time of year, maybe you are feeling like you need to add a little more heart to Christmas? Please enjoy a quick trip around the world in one post:
Christmas traditions around the world.
For most people in Scandinavian countries Christmas lasts for a whole month from December 13 to January 13th and they honor St. Lucia during Christmas. St. Lucia according to tradition aided Christians hiding underground by bringing them food. She wore a wreath of candles on her head for light to see by. According to tradition she was caught and martyred for aiding Christians. Today it is a tradition for the oldest daughter in each family rise and wake her family while dressed in a long white gown with a red sash wearing a crown made of twigs with nine candles.
Norway is the where we have the tradition of the yule log, and watching a fire at Christmas time. The yule log was first used in their celebration of winter. They have a "Christmas Buck" known as Julebukk who brings gifts.
Our tradition of the Christmas tree comes from Germany. It first began as part of their Winter Solstice tradition. The first Christmas tree decorated especially for Christmas are first recorded in Strasbourg in the early 1700's. In Germany children write and decorate letters to the Christ kind. She is a beautiful angel like figure who brings gifts. Also a "Weihnachtsmann" (Christmas Man), who looks like Santa Claus, brings gifts on Christmas eve. They celebrate advent by lighting candles and using advent calendars. Some families fill a room with a Christmas tree and gifts and lock it up, opening it again on Christmas to surprise Children.
Poinsettias are from Mexico! Named after Joel R. Poinsett who brought it from Mexico to America in 1828. By 1870 they they could be found in New York's stores at Christmas time. According to legend a little boy named Pablo wanted to give the Christ Child a gift, he gathered up some green branches and laid them by a nativity scene and red flowers appeared on each branch. In Mexico pinatas are part of the Christmas celebration.
Christmas cards were popularised by an English man named John Calcott Horsley. He made small cards with holiday scenes and greetings in the 1830's and they became instantly successful. Plum pudding and caroling also both came from England. Father Christmas similar to Santa claus puts gifts in Children's stockings on Christmas eve, to be opened Christmas day after morning mass. An enormous feast is held for Christmas dinner which often includes two types of meat, vegetables, Plum pudding, and Christmas cake.
In France Christmas is called Noel. Some burn wood in their fireplaces from Christmas Eve until New Year's Day. On Christmas Eve shoes are left by the fireplace to be filled with gifts by Pere Noel who also leaves small food and toy gifts on the Christmas tree as well. Nativity scenes are a popular home decoration. A dinner called Le reveillon is held after midnight mass. The French celebrate a tradition called the Twelfth day where children go out to look for the Kings, taking hay with them for the kings camels.
Christmas Il Natale is the name for Christmas in Italy. It means "the birthday". Children go from house to house dressed as shepherds, caroling, playing music, and reciting poems. They have two feasts before Christmas Eve, then candles are lit around the Presepio which is a crib. The pope gives his blessing on Christmas Day. Santa gives gifts to all the good children! Befana, who is an ugly witch, rides around on a broomstick looking for the the baby Jesus, and she brings cakes and candies on the 6th January
In Australia Christmas day is in the middle of summer and is often very hot! Out door activities such as swimming and bbq'ing are often part of our traditions. Old coins are often found in Christmas puddings, a tradition that dates back to gold rush days. And Thousands of people sing Carols by Candlelight every year in Melbourne on Christmas eve. They decorate with a plant that has red flowers called the Christmas Bush.
Ireland's Christmas celebration is from Christmas eve till January 6th. They place candles in the windows on Christmas eve to remember Mary and Joseph looking for shelter. Children put out Christmas sacks to be filled with gifts. After the Christmas meal food is left on out on the table and the door unlocked to welcome any travelers. Boys go around the neighbor hood with a fake bird on a stick making music and ask for money 'for the wren'. And they leave out beer for Santa.
Good ol' Saint Nick comes from Prince Vladimir's tales of miracles preformed by St. Nicholas of Myra. Today in Russia the name Nicholas is one of the most common names for boys. He came to be know as Grandfather Frost during the communist years. Babouschka brings gifts to children. She has a similar story to Befenna (above). She missed the Christ child when she refused to go see him and now is in search of him. She gives gifts to Children in the search. During the Communist times Christmas trees were banned so Russians decorated their "New Years" trees instead. Fasting and prayer is observed sometimes for over a month. Then there is a feast with twelve courses. Each course in honor of a disciple. Some farming traditions are observed such as hay being spread on the floor to bring good luck for the coming year.
The traditional Christmas dinner is turkey or ham with vegetables and sauces with rich pies containing fruits or nuts for dessert. Christmas is celebrated by exchanging Christmas cards, and gifts, and with family visits. For many, the day begins on Christmas Eve with the Midnight Mass. Christmas occurs in America in winter and in many places there is snow fall. Many wish for a white Christmas. Homes are decorated with lights, holly, mistletoe, and branches of evergreen trees. Most have a Christmas tree with electric lights and ornaments in their living rooms. Children go to bed on Christmas eve with excitement of waking to find what Santa has left for them on Christmas morning.
Each Christmas Eve at The Church of the Nativity there is a grand precession of police, horses, priests who place a representation of the baby Jesus in the church. People come from near and far to see the silver star that, according to tradition, marks the place where Jesus was born. In Bethlehem Christians mark their doors with a cross and on a poll in the middle of the town they place a star.
I hope you have enjoyed this virtual tour around the world to see how everyone celebrates Christmas!
Do you have any special Christmas traditions at your home? We have one...we always allow one gift to be opened on Christmas eve after we have been to church. I'm sure many people would think that is a big "No No" but at least we get to wake up at a reasonable hour in the morning instead of at 4:30AM which happened one year!
Thanks so much for stopping by today!
Blessings and best Christmas wishes,
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