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Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Around The World Part II

Christmas in Denmark

Christmas in Denmark is supposed to be when a mischievous elf called Nisse can have his fun. He is said to live in the lofts of old farmhouses and enjoys playing jokes. He wears gray woolen clothes, a red bonnet, red stockings and white clogs. Families leave him a bowl of rice pudding or porridge on Christmas Eve to keep his jokes within limits. Usually though he is kind and helpful helping out on the farms and being especially good to the children.
Christmas Eve dinner begins with rice pudding that holds a magic almond inside. Whoever finds the almond receives a prize. They then have goose, red cabbage and browned potatoes. After that lots of pastries and cakes.
The Danish tradition is the Christmas plate. This was a tradition in the early days where rich Danes gave plates biscuits and fruit as presents to their servants. These plates were the nicest and best kind and were not used for everyday use, this is the reason why they became so collectable.
They take much pride making their own decorations with bright paper, bits of wood and straw. The parents secretly decorate the tree, and children are not permitted to see the tree until dinner on Christmas Eve. The tree is then lit up and families gather around to sing carols and hymns.
Each Sunday in Advent, guests are invited to join in the lighting of the candles on the Advent crown. Adults drink a warming mixture of red wine, spices and raisins, and children drink a sweet fruit juice, like strawberry. Everybody eats small cakes of batter which have been cooked over the fire in a special pan, and dusted with icing sugar.
In Denmark Christmas Eve is a special time. It is at this time parents secretly decorate the Christmas tree with home made wood and straw baubles. The children are only able to see the tree before dinner when it is lit up and the family gathers to sing carols and hymns.
In Denmark Christmas Eve is called Juleaften and is the biggest occasion of the year. Parties go on all night, with traditional prune-stuffed roast goose, red cabbage, fried pastries, and cinnamon-laced rice pudding called Grod.
The Christmas elves called Julenisse are appeased with rice pudding, and dishes of seeds are placed outdoors for wild birds.
Christmas in Czech Republic

Celebrations for Christmas begin with the visit of St. Nicholas on December 6th and end with the visit of the Three Kings.
In Czech Republic, St. Nicholas is called Svaty Mikalas and is believed to climb to earth down from heaven on a golden rope along with his companions: an angel and a whip-carrying devil.
In Czech Republic, a girl can tell her future, it is said that according to tradition, by putting a cherry twig in water on December 4th. If the twig blossoms before Christmas Eve, the girl will marry sometime during the year.
The famous King Wenceslas of the Christmas Carol was a real King in this country. His goodness and his beliefs in Christianity infuriated his mother, and his brother murdered him on the Church steps. Before he died he asked for God's mercy for his brother's evil act. He became the patron saint of Czech Republic.
Christmas is a quiet and peaceful religious time here. They fast for one day, and have baked carp for Christmas dinner. St Nicholas visits, and brings good children gifts, and for those children who are bad, the devil is said to come with switches.
At midnight, most families go to Holy Mass or Pasterka as it is known. On Christmas Day, the churches are filled with evergreens and Christmas Trees. Celebrations go on for three days.
Czechs eat a soup made of cod roe and tempt each other with tales of a mythical golden pig.
Christmas in Guatemala

Throughout Christmas several religious statues are taken for an elaborate procession. At the rear of the parade is an image representing God, this white-bearded man may also resemble a department store Santa Claus. Marimbas and chirimias accompany the procession.
On Christmas Eve festivities end are midnight with a Misa de Gallo or the Mass of the Rooster.
Nacimientos or Manger scenes, are displayed in churches and public arenas. The Christ child is added on Christmas Eve.
Christmas in Mexico

Mexicans share many traditions with the Spanish. Their main Christmas celebration is called La Posada, which is a religious procession that reenacts the search for shelter by Joseph and Mary before the birth of Jesus. During the procession, the celebrants go from house to house carrying the images of Mary and Joseph looking for shelter.
Santa Claus is not predominant, but the bright red suit is represented in the traditional flower of the season. This flower is the poinsettia, which has a brilliant red star-shaped bloom. It is believed that a young boy walking to the church to see the nativity scene showing the birth of Jesus had realized on the way that he had no gift to offer the Christ child so he gathered up some plain green branches as he walked in he was laughed at but upon placing the branches near the manger they started to bloom a bright red poinsettia flower on each branch.
The Mexican children receive gifts. On Christmas day they are blindfolded and taken to try and break a decorated clay piñata that dangles and swings at the end of a rope. Once the piñata has been broken, the children clamber to recover the candy that was inside the piñata. Those children who have been good also on January 6th receive a gift from the Three Wise Men.
Mexicans attend a midnight mass service which is called la Misa Del Gallo or "the rooster's mass," and at the mass they sing lullabies to Jesus.
from Fico Llaguno
1) Traditionally Posadas are celebrated 9 days before Christmas (one a day) from the 16 to the 24 of December. Songs, prayers and candels take place in the event were we acompany the "Peregrinos (Joseph and Mary)" in their search for shelter.
2) In the northern states of Mexico Santa Clause "Santo Clos" brings children bigpresents,while the "Reyes Magos" bring the small presents in Janurary. In the southern states the gift giving is inverted and "El niño Dios" (Jesus) brings a few presents, while "Los Reyes Magos" (the 3 wise men) bring the equivalent of Santa Clause's presents.
3) The "pinsettia" flowers are known as "Noche Buenas" (literally the good nights)
4) The 3 wise men (Reyes magos) and the "Rosca de Reyes" (source: http://www.inside-mexico.com/ReyesMagos.htm)
"People go to the markets and stores to get the needed ingredients to prepare the feast.
All over the country, in every city and in every little town, bakeries offer the Rosca de Reyes, an oval sweetbread, decorated with candied fruit. There are Roscas of all sizes, very small ones for two or three people and up to the ones that will delight more that twenty people.
The Merienda de Reyes is truly a multicultural event. The Spaniards brought the tradition of celebrating the Epiphany and sharing the Rosca to the New World. The Rosca is served along with Tamales, made of corn which was the pre-Hispanic food per excel lance, and hot chocolate. Chocolate is also a gift from the native peoples of the New World.
Hidden inside this delicious Rosca, a plastic figurine of the Baby Jesus. The Baby is hidden because it symbolizes the need to find a secure place where Jesus could be born, a place where King Herod would not find Him.
Each person cuts a slice of the Rosca . The knife symbolizes the danger in which the Baby Jesus was in.
One by one the guests carefully inspect their slice, hopping they didn't get the figurine.
Whoever gets the baby figurine shall be the host, and invite everyone present to a new celebration on February 2, Candelaria or Candle mass day, and he also shall get a new Ropón or dress for the Baby Jesus of the Nativity scene.
The Mexican Christmas season is joyously extended up to February 2 ! - when the nativity scene is put away, and another family dinner of delicious tamales and hot chocolate is served with great love and happiness."


Christmas in New Zealand

In New Zealand Christmas is combined with summer holidays, so as well as present-buying and parties, families are preparing for trips to the beach. Shops are decorated with Father Christmas in his red cloak and white beard, as well as snow scenes.
The New Zealand traditions of Christmas have mostly come through the English settlers who began arriving their in the late 18th Century. In the last 20 or 30 years the persona of Father Christmas had changed and he is referred to as Santa Claus and has become much more like the Santa of the United States and Ireland. As well people have been forced to change as a result of the Maori culture. The spirits and creatures of the Maori culture resemble the elves and gnomes of European Christmas traditions.
They celebrate the story of the birth of Jesus Christ with a special service, which is appropriate to New Zealanders way of life as they had no motels, and they have many shepherds who take care of their flocks, in doing so they can see the true meaning of Christmas.
In New Zealand the traditional Christmas dinner is roast turkey with vegetables and sauces. For dessert it is rich, fruity Christmas pudding with brandy sauce. Mince pies, pastry cases filled with a mixture of chopped dried fruit.


Christmas in Philippines


The only Asian nation in which Christianity is the religion chosen by the people. Christmas celebrations start nine days before Christmas with a mass known as Misa de Gallo. At this mass the story behind the birth of Christ is read from the Bible.
The Panunuluyan pageant is held each Eve. A couple is chosen to re-enact Joseph and Mary's search for shelter.
Mass is held hourly on Christmas Day so that everyone can attend. Religious services include pastore, or play, based on myth of the birth of the Christ Child. The pastore closes with a star from the upper part of the church sliding down a wire and coming to rest over the church's Nativity scene.
Christmas celebrations may have evolved from old tribal customs mixed with other influences. Serenading cumbancheros, or strolling minstrels, end their performances by singing Maligayang Pasko to the tune of "Happy Birthday".
As part of my people's traditions, the children also go around their neighborhood and sing carols to each household. Sometimes, they get money, sometimes they get fed. The money they get, they use to buy gifts for themselves or loved ones.
We also have the unique tradition of making 3-D "parols" or star lanterns made from thin strips of bamboo and covered in colored thin plastic film to symbolize the guiding star that the three wise men followed to find Jesus Christ; it is also the Filipinos' way of inviting the spirit of Christ into their home- it is to mentally reverse the notion of "no room at the inn". The star symbolize the willingness of each home to "house" the baby Jesus.
Also, most Filipino grandparents gather their grandchildren on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, after church and they toss coins in the middle as extra gifts and wishes of prosperity for the new year.
In more affluent households, it is traditional to serve all kinds of food as a form of Thanksgiving to all that Jesus Christ embodied with the traditional lechon or roast suckling pig and pansit (noodles) as centerpieces.
Christmas time is also the best time to enjoy all kinds of fireworks. We also have the noche buena or the meal served at midnight. Traditionally, it is for after the family comes back from the midnight mass.


Christmas in Poland

Traditionally, Advent is an important season in the Polish year, with special church services, known as Roraty, being held every morning at 6am. The four Sundays of Advent are said to represent the 4,000 years of waiting for Christ.
During Advent and, in some homes, on Christmas Eve, bees wax or plain wax is poured on water, and fortunes are told from the shapes which emerge.
Special tasks carried out during Advent are the baking of the Christmas piernik or honey cake, and the making of Christmas decorations. Pierniki are made in a great variety of shapes, including hearts, animals and St Nicholas figures. Traditional decorations include the pajaki, which are handmade mobiles, stars and decorated egg shells. Pajaki are traditional decorations, rather lots of bomb lets, colorful paper chains and lots of electric lights.
Beautifully lit Christmas trees are placed in all public arenas, outside churches and in homes. Traditionally the trees are decorated with shiny apples, gift walnuts, beautifully wrapped chocolate shapes and many homemade decorations and candles. On the top of the tree is a star or a glittering top piece. In many homes, sparklers are hung on the branches of the trees giving it a magical air. Sometimes the trees are left standing until February 2nd, the feast day of St Mary of the Candle of Lightning.
During Advent, the Gwiadorze or star carriers or carol singers, used to begin wandering through the towns and villages and this would continue until Epiphany. Some of the Gwiadorze sang carols, others recited verses or put on Szopke or puppet show, or herody or nativity scenes. The last two customs are developments from traditional manger scenes or Jaselka or crib.
Christmas Eve, Wigilia, is an important part of the Polish Christmas, in fact, the most important rituals are celebrated on this day.
A traditional food found in Poland is Oplatek which is a piece of bread pressed with a holy picture on the surface. Oplatek is more symbolic than real food. We celebrate with at least 12 different vegetarian dishes like: mushroom soup, carp, cabbage with pea, stuffed dumplings, and shells macaroni with poppy "makielki". In some homes - some hay is put under the tablecloth (it is connected with Christ's manger).
People once carried these oplatek from house to house and wish their neighbors a Merry Christmas. Nowadays, the bread is mostly shared with members of the family and immediate neighbors. As each person shares the bread, they would have to do two things: forgive any hurts that have occurred over the past year and to wish the person all the happiness in the coming year.


Christmas in Portugal

In Portugal the tradition of gift-giving was defined mostly by the strong Christian religious beliefs of the people. Children await the coming of the Three Wise Men during Christmas time. On the eve of January 5th children place their shoes along windowsills and doorways and fill them with carrots and straw. They do this hoping that this will lure the wise men's horses to their houses during the night and that they will find their shoes packed with gifts and treats in the morning. The treats left is more likely to be candied fruits and sweet breads.
They do not recognize the red suit of most traditions as the person who brings gifts, but, gifts are a big part of the many Christmas celebrations. The Christmas Feast of the Immaculate Conception and the Feast of the Holy Innocents both involve the sharing of gifts.
They have a feast known as the consoda which takes place on the morning of Christmas Day. They set extra places at the table for the souls of the dead. They give a gift of food to these souls and hope that by doing so the fortunes of the next year will be good.
The Portuguese "Christmas log," or cepo de Natal, is a piece of oak that burns on the hearth all through the day while people enjoy a lingering consoda.
Tradition Submitted by Alda Moreira who says traditions are incorrect.
The children receive the presents at midnight of 24/25 December or early in 25 th December morning, but never on 5th January. They put the shoes near the fireplace as a receptacle for the presents and not at the window.
We recognize the red suite; the children believe in Santa Claus (called "Pai Natal" - wich means: Father Christmas) and the parents tell them that is the baby Jesus who helps Santa with the presents, ( not the Three wise men...).
The most part of family set up a Nativity scene (called Presépio), with Mary, Joseph, the cow and the donkey, the three wise men, and lots of other figures The figure of the Christ Child is added to the scene after the family attends Midnight Mass or after midnight....But everybody have a Christmas tree too; the typical colours are the gold, red and green.
The Christmas Feast of the Immaculate Conception and the Feast of the Holy Innocents do not involve the sharing of gifts.
The consoada is the reunion of the family, until they wait for the coming of Father Christmas at midnight and takes place on the dinner of 24 th December/Christmas Eve, not in the morning of 25. There are families who reserve an empty place for the persons who died, but it doesn't happen very often. During the consoada we dinner (boiled codfish and Portuguese sprouts (in pure olive oil) normally) and then everybody puts lots of desserts in the table and typical plates (rice pudding with cinamon, "rabandas"-seems like french toast, "filhoses"-fried desserts, "broas de mel" (pastries made with honey) “Sonhos” -pumpkin fritters ) Another very traditional desert is the "Bolo Rei" (King's cake) "which is a wreath-like very rich fruit cake laced with crystallized fruits and pine nuts." There is a little present inside the cake and a broadbean-who find the broadbean in one slice, must pay the next “King Cake”.
At midnight, there are also families who attend to the church for a special Midnight Mass, called "Missa do galo"-"Rooster’s Mass", but it happens more in the interior, who are more religious.
During the Christmas day Portuguese people visit the friends and family and have a big lunch normally with roast chicken, lamb or turkey.


Christmas in Germany

Christmas preparations often begin on the eve of December 6th. People often set aside special evenings for baking spiced cakes and cookies, and making gifts and decorations. Little dolls of fruit are traditional Christmas toys.
Children leave letters on their windowsills for Christkind, a winged figure dressed in white robes and a golden crown who distributes gifts. Sometimes the letters are decorated with glue and sprinkled with sugar to make them sparkle.
Germans make beautiful gingerbread houses and cookies. The German Christmas tree pastry, Christbaumgeback, is a white dough that can be molded into shapes and baked for tree decorations.
In parts of Germany, people believe that the Christ Child sends a messenger in Christmas Eve. He appears as an angel in a white robe and crown, bearing gifts. The angel is called Christkind. There is also a Christmas Eve figure called Weihnachtsmann or Christmas Man, he looks like Santa Claus and also brings gifts.
Some homes in Germany have several Christmas trees, and in all towns across Germany, they can be seen glittering and glowing.
In Germany they hang up advent wreaths of Holly with four red candles in the center. They light one candle each Sunday and last on Christmas Eve. Children count the days until Christmas using an Advent calendar. They open one window each day and find a Christmas picture inside.
In Germany the traditional visitor is the Christkindl who is the Christ Child's messenger. She is a beautiful fair-haired girl with a shining crown of candles who visits each house with a basket of presents.
In some homes a room is locked up before Christmas. On Christmas Eve the children go to bed but are woken up at midnight by their parents and taken down to the locked room. The door is opened and they see the tree all lit up, with piles of parcels on little tables.
In Germany boys dress up as kings and carry a star round the village, singing carols.
The German Christmas traditions are not quite like that.
1. Christmas preparations start before Dec. 1st,
2. December 6 is Nikolaustag, St. Claus day, you leave out a shoe or boot outside the door Dec.5 and the next morning you find presents (if you were a good kid) or a rod (if you were bad)
3. The Adventskranz (advent wreath) is not hung up but placed on a table lying flat, how could you light the candles otherwise...
4. catholic boys and girls dress up as kings for three kings day (jan. 6) they sing carols and collect money for donations to different projects
that"s just a couple of things...
Christmas in Romania

Carols form an important part of the Romanian folklore. Romanian carols are not simple songs (a sort of invocation in verse sung by children and lads, on the evening of Winters Holidays) with religions origin, but wide windows through which we are allowed once in a year to go by the immaculate snow-towards the evergreen Heaven and to eye-touch God at least for an instant , in order to give us the power to surpass the life's obstacles. Carols put people in the mood for a perfect communion with the simple and healing greatness of Jesus' Birth. The carol singers walk in the streets of the villages and towns holding in their hands a star made of board and paper with biblical scenes painted in water colors and they sing:
"Do you receive the pretty star,
Pretty and so very bright?
It Haseko we did in the sky
Just like God thought it would be right,
Stand it could be seen on high,
Just like we did in the sky"
On the first Christmas day, children walk in the streets of snow covered towns and villages, when holding in their hands a star made of board and paper with a biblical scenes painted in water colors or an icon showing Virgin Mary and baby Jesus, they sing somewhat of a question:
"Do you receive the pretty star,
Pretty and so bright?
It has appeared on the earth
Just like God through it would be right
And it could be seen on high,
Just like we did, in the sky.
Five days before Christmas with a very sharp knife the pig is cut.
This custom is called "Ignatius" from Saint Ignatius (celebrated on December the 20th). Straws are put in his snout and then it is covered with burning straws and then is it singed. The pig is nicely washed and covered with a piece of cloth for ten minutes. The housewife comes and incense the pig and then the husband comes and makes the sign of the cross on the pig's head saying to the family gathered around: "Let's eat the pig!" After the pig is cut there is a feast called the pig's funeral feast or alms. At the feast the whole family friends and neighbors take part. All eat the rid or the skin of the bacon and they also eat small pieces of fried pork they drink wine or plum brandy.


Christmas in Scotland


The Scottish people have their big celebrations on New Year's Day, called Hogmanay. A long time ago there is a superstition that it is bad luck for the fire to go out on Christmas Eve, since it is at this time that the elves are abroad and only a raging fire will keep them from coming down the chimney.
On Christmas day, people sometimes make big bonfires and dance around them to the playing of bagpipes. Bannock cakes made of oatmeal are traditionally eaten at Christmas.
In Scotland, Christmas had traditionally been celebrated very quietly, because the Church of Scotland - the Presbyterian Church - has never placed any great emphasis on the Christmas festival, However, the Scots are members of the Church of England or other churches generally celebrate Christmas in the same way as the English people disapproved of Christmas for they believed that there was too much riotous festivity that went on. Nowadays these things are held at Hogmanay, but they do celebrate Christmas with some very interesting customs.

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