Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, be plenteous in mercy is to have the real spirit of Christmas. Calvin Coolidge.

Monday, 26 November 2012


There were many interesting contributions last week
They give a good idea what Christmas is like in different countries!

Here is a good chance to score 5 points ( 1 per commentary or reply).
If your contribution is more than 5 entries, extra points will be counted as bonus ones!


  1. Christmas in Spain!
    In Spain it is a very festive time at Christmas. On Christmas Eve, as the stars come out, tiny oil lamps are lit in every house, and after Midnight Mass and Christmas Dinner, streets fill with dancers and onlookers. There is a special Christmas dance called the Jota and the words and music have been handed down for hundreds of years. They dance to the sound of guitars and castanets.
    Children think of the Three Wise Man as the gift bearers. Tradition has it that they arrive on January 6th, the date the Wise Men gave gifts to Jesus.
    Shoes are filled with straw or barley for the tired camels that must carry their riders through the busy night. By morning the camel food is gone and in place of the straw or barley are presents. Shoes also may be placed on balconies on the night of the 6th January in the hope that the Wise Men will fill them with gifts.
    Most homes have a manger, like cathedrals and churches. These are complete with carved figures.
    During the weeks before Christmas, families gather around their manger to sing, whilst children play tambourines and dance.
    The Spanish especially honor the cow at Christmas because it is thought that when Mary gave birth to Jesus the cow in the stable breathed on the Baby Jesus to keep him warm.
    Christmas is a deeply religious holiday in Spain. The country's patron saint is the Virgin Mary and the Christmas season officially begins December 8, the feast of the Immaculate Conception. It is celebrated each year in front of the great Gothic cathedral in Seville with a ceremony called los Seises or the "dance of six." Oddly, the elaborate ritual dance is now performed by not six but ten elaborately costumed boys. It is a series of precise movements and gestures and is said to be quite moving and beautiful.
    Christmas Eve is known as Nochebuena or "the Good Night." It is a time for family members to gather together to rejoice and feast around the Nativity scenes that are present in nearly every home. A traditional Christmas treat is turron, a kind of almond candy.
    December 28 is the feast of the Holy Innocents. Young boys of a town or village light bonfires and one of them acts as the mayor who orders townspeople to perform civic chores such as sweeping the streets. Refusal to comply results in fines which are used to pay for the celebration.
    The children of Spain receive gifts on the feast of the Epiphany. The Magi are particularly revered in Spain. It is believed that they travel through the countryside reenacting their journey to Bethlehem every year at this time. Children leave their shoes on the windowsills and fill them with straw, carrots, and barley or the horses of the Wise Men. Their favorite is Balthazar who rides a donkey and is the one believed to leave the gifts.
    The Spanish Christmas is Navidad, people go to church, exchange presents, and many play on swing sets set up especially for the occasion. Swinging at solstice time evokes an ancient desire to encourage the sun, urging it to "swing" ever higher in the sky.

  2. Christmas In Ireland
    For the Irish, apart from Christmas being a festival of joy and laughter, it also has religious undertones. Celebrations in Ireland begin on the 6th of December and last until the Feast of Epiphany, on the 6th of January. A few practices have been carried forward through centuries and are similar to the customs followed in other countries. In Ireland, Christmas truly begins when the streets are decorated with Christmas trees and stores display figurines and animated scenes from the Bible in their windows. Ireland has certain unique Christmas traditions but more importantly, each family has a distinctive way of celebrating it. The country of Ireland is known for their pomp and show during this season, as numerous lights and decorations are seen in churches, houses, shopping areas and street corners. Cribs are built to denote the birth of Jesus and the arrival of the 3 Kings. Another characteristic of the Irish way of festivities for Christmas is Midnight Mass.

    Irish Christmas Customs

    Christmas Eve
    People in Ireland light candles and perch them up on windows, during the Eve of Christmas, to signify the Joseph and Mary's search for shelter. Candles are usually red in colour and adorned with twigs of holly. Most homes are ornamented with tinsel, lights and baubles.

    Christmas Tree
    The Christmas tree is set-up before the first day on the Advent Calendar. It is typically decorated with an angel/star on top of the tree. Many families place Christmas ornaments such as stockings, candy canes, elves and snowflakes on their fireplace to enhance the festive mood.

    Santa Claus
    Gifts are placed under the tree and remain unopened until the Christmas morning. Santa Claus is popular figure in Ireland; he is dressed slightly different as compared to that of other countries. It is believed that Claus enters a house, on Christmas Eve, through the chimney and delivers gifts. Most kids leave behind a stocking that is normally filled with goodies, by the morning.

    Welcome Light
    On Christmas Eve in Ireland, some houses place a thick and tall candle on the sill of the largest window, after sunset. It is allowed to burn the entire night and symbolizes the welcome light for Joseph and Mary.

    Midnight Mass
    Since Ireland is a Catholic country, every member of the family attends a Christian mass together. This is held at midnight and involves each member of the congregation, who holds a candle that has been blessed by a High Priest or Arch Bishop.

    Christmas Dinner
    The conventional menu for an Irish Christmas dinner includes goose or stuffed turkey, boiled potatoes, ham, brussel sprouts, carrot and cauliflower and followed by a Christmas pudding or a Christmas cake.

    Selection Box For Kids
    In modern times, children are given chocolates, popularly known as the selection box. This happens after the Christmas dinner and is mandatory. After the meal, a table is set with milk and bread and the door is left unlatched. This symbolizes hospitality and thus, is done to welcome the family of Joseph, Mary and Baby Jesus into their homes.

    Celebrating St. Stephens Day
    Ireland celebrates St. Stephens Day, one day after Christmas. During this time, families visit the local church and join their near and dear ones in celebrating and rejoicing.

    Feast Of Epiphany
    The Feast of Epiphany which is on the 6th of January and is also celebrated as Women's Christmas, in Ireland. At this time, the men in the family are supposed to carry on household chores such as cooking and cleaning. Women have a chance to take a holiday and visit neighbouring houses.

    The Irish follow the traditions and customs of Christmas, irrespective of how ancient it may be. This is the probably one of the main reasons why Christmas celebrations in Ireland are such a big deal.


    The holiday season starts with Advent in Hungary, too. Advent wreaths can be seen in stores, schools, offices, and in almost every home. This time of year is the preparation for Christmas. Candles are decorated with red and gold ribbons symbolizing life and brightness. Most children get Advent calendars with a small gift or candie for every day before Christmas. Lights and decoration however stay inside the houses - streets and houses are not as spectacular there as they are in the US. Also, people never decorate a tree before the Holy night. Christmas trees can be seen during advent only in stores symbolizing holiday shopping. They decorate trees on the holy night in immediate families. Christmas is a private, family holiday in Hungary, people don't go to parties. Most families decorate the tree together, but some families keep the older tradition that tree should be a surprise for chidren who even believe it was bought by angels. Children enter the room only when the small tree bells ring and music arises. Gifts lay around the tree with small labels saying the name of someone in the family. Family-members sing Christmas songs together, then open their gifts and spend the night together. The menu for Christmas night is usually fish or cabbage with the special poppy-bread called "beigli." Christmas is a 2-day holiday here, we are proud that it was 2-day holiday even during communism. This was actually the only thing we could gain from our lost 1956 war. In the 2 days of Christmas big families meet, often travelling to another town, or maybe very close friends visit each other. But these days are private days of their rush lives. They stop for 2 days and turn to people we love the most. Christmas is the holiday of love and heart.

    The most significant event of the Hungarian Christmas celebration are the Nativity plays. On the Eve of Christmas, the adults or children enact the nativity scene together with puppets, songs and musical instruments. 'Bethlehem Play' is one of the traditional favorite of the Hungarians. Christmas preparation in Hungary starts a week before the main day and the excitement is manifest on the faces of the children waiting for the big night.

    The Hungarian Santa, called Mikulбs, (Me-ku-lash) visits children on December 6th, St. Nicholas' Day, which is the name day of "Miklуs." Chidren put boots in the windows, like stockings hang by the fireplace on Christmas Eve all over the USA. If the child has been good, Mikulбs leaves the boot filled with goodies - traditionally with candies, tangerines, walnuts, apples, dates and chocolate Mikulбs figurines. Also, most children get small toys and books. If the child has been bad, the boot will contain just a switch usually with a devil-figure attached, indicating a beating is in order. Since no child is all good or all bad, most get the switch and the treat. Usually Mikulбs-day is celebrated in schools and in work-places for the workers' children. Children sing Mikulбs-songs and when he comes in bravest children go to him, sit to his lap and tell a poem or sing a song. Then Mikulбs calls them one by one, praising them for the good things they did and mentions bad things as well. These personal messages - of course - based on previous parents' notes. Usually Mikulбs plays with them for a while or they watch a movie together. There is no Mrs. Santa in Hungary, but Mikulбs often comes with one or two small evil boys, called "krampusz (kromm-puhs)."

  4. Christmas in France

    Christmas in France is a time for get togethers with family and friends. It is a time to worship together, dine together and enjoy together.
    Arranging the Nativity scene is a popular custom associated with the French Christmas season. During Christmas, nearly every home in the country displays a Nativity scene or creche which is the center of Christmas celebrations for families. Little clay figures called "santons" or "little saints" are placed in the creche. The "santons" are made by craftsmen in the south of France throughout the year. Throughout the Christmas season, the figures are sold at annual Christmas fairs in Marseille and Aix.
    On Christmas Eve, children put out in the hearth their shoes or wooden clogs called sabots to be filled with gifts from Pere Noel, the French equivalent of the British Father Christmas and the American Santa Claus. The apparel of Pere Noel is akin to the older garb of Santa Claus in a long red hooded robe, edged with white fur. His presents are carried not in a sack, but in a basket or hotte on his back, like those carried by grape harvesters. Pere Noel is said to travel with his stern disciplinarian companion Pre Fouettard who reminds him how each child has behaved during the past year. A popular Christmas song for French children is Petit Papa Noel. Children write letters to Pere Noel in the hope of getting presents from him. Their wishes are fulfilled when they wake up in the morning to find not only their gifts but also sweets, fruit, nuts and small toys hanging somewhere closeby. Adults generally wait until New Year's Day to exchange gifts.
    On the eve of Christmas churches and cathedrals are beautifully lit with candles, church bells are rung and Christmas carols are sung by all present. In cathedral squares, the story of Christ's birth is re-enacted by both players and puppets. On Christmas Eve, after the midnight mass is over, a very late supper known as "Le reveillon" is held. The menu for the meal varies from region to region within the country. While goose is the main course in Alsace, it is oysters and pat de foie gra in Paris. In Burgundy it is turkey with chestnuts. The "buche de Nol", meaning "Christmas Log", is a traditional Yule log-shaped cake specially prepared here for Christmas and is an indispensable part of the grand French Christmas feast. Le Revellion may consist of poultry, ham, salads, cake, fruit and wine.
    The custom of Christmas tree decoration has never been that popular in France. The use of the Yule log has faded in the country, though in the southern parts a log is burned in individual homes from Christmas Eve until New Years Day.
    Once dinner is over family members retire to bed but not before laying food and drinks on the table and leaving a fire burning. This is believed to be in honour of Virgin Mary who is supposed to visit homes during Christmastime.


    1. The French are known for their beautiful display windows in stores, showcasing yummy Christmas treats. Candied fruits, cookies, and cakes are widely available as well as delicious breads. My personal French Christmas favorite is salted butter caramels. Mmmm...

      Christmas dinner menus vary depending on the region. In fact, France's cuisine is highly regional, so this makes sense when it comes to what's on the table on Christmas. For example, in the Alsace region, many families will feast upon goose for their main course. A Parisian meal may be made up of foie gras along with oysters. In Burgundy, many families have turkey with chestnuts.

      French families will often bake a yule log shaped cake, which is usually made out of chocolate. The chocolate yule log cake is perhaps one of the things people remember most of Christmas in France. This delicious cake is served at le reveillon, a late meal served after the midnight mass on Christmas Eve. Le reveillon is usually the largest feast of the season which replaces what Americans call Christmas dinner.

  5. The Serbs celebrate Christmas for three consecutive days, beginning with Christmas Day. The Serbian Orthodox Church uses the traditional Julian calendar, per which Christmas Day (25 December) falls on 7 January. This day is called the first day of Christmas, and the following two are accordingly called the second, and the third day of Christmas. During this festive time, one is to greet another person with “Christ is Born,” which should be responded to with “Truly He is Born.” The Serbian name for Christmas is Božić , which means the young or little God.

    This holiday surpasses all the others celebrated by Serbs, with respect to the diversity of applied folk customs and rituals. These may vary from region to region, some of them having modern versions adapted to the contemporary way of living. The ideal environment to carry them out fully is the traditional multi-generation country household.

    In the morning of Christmas Eve a young, straight oak tree is selected and felled by the head of the household. A log is cut from it and is referred to as the badnjak. In the evening, the badnjak is ceremoniously put on the domestic fire that burns on the house’s fireplace called ognjište, whose hearth is without a vertical surround. The burning of the badnjak is accompanied by prayers to God so that the coming year may bring much happiness, love, luck, riches, and food. Since most houses today have no ognjište on which to burn a badnjak, it is symbolically represented by several leaved oak twigs. For the convenience of people who live in towns and cities, they can be bought at marketplaces or received in churches.

    The dinner on this day is festive, copious and diverse in foods, although it is prepared in accordance with the rules of fasting. Groups of young people go from house to house of their village or neighbourhood, congratulating each other, singing, and making performances; this continues through the next three days. The Serbs also take a bundle of straw into the house and spread it over the floor, and then put walnuts on it. Before the table is served for the Christmas Eve dinner, it is strewn with a thin layer of straw and covered with a white cloth. The head of household makes the Sign of the Cross, lights a candle, and censes the whole house. The family members sit down at the table, but before tucking in they all rise and a man or boy among them says a prayer, or they together sing the Troparion of the Nativity. After the dinner young people visit their friends, a group of whom may gather at the house of one of them. Christmas and other songs are sung, while the elderly narrate stories from the olden times.

    On Christmas Day, the celebration is announced at dawn by church bells and by shooting. A big importance is given to the first visit a family receives that day. People expect that it will summon prosperity and well-being for their household in the ensuing year; this visit is often pre-arranged. Christmas dinner is the most celebratory meal a family has during a year. A special, festive loaf of bread is baked for this occasion. The main course is roast pork of a pig which they cook whole by rotating it impaled on a wooden spit close to an open fire. It is not a part of Serbian traditions to exchange gifts during Christmas. Gift-giving is, nevertheless, connected with the celebrations, being traditionally done on the three consecutive Sundays that immediately precede it. Children, women, and men, respectively, are the set gift-givers on these three days.

  6. Christmas in Norway

    Advent with Lights and a Calendar

    Christmas in Norway starts on December 1 with the Advent Calendar, which traditionally is filled with 24 small gifts for the children to open, one each morning through December 24. On the first of the four Sundays before Christmas Eve, Norwegians light the first of four advent candles and say the first of four advent verses. And while Christmas features the color red, Advent decorations are traditionally purple. Advent is originally a Christian tradition, but like many similar traditions it has been adopted by many Norwegians as a part of Christmas and time for family.

    Santa Lucia

    A very important part of Christmas is Santa Lucia, one of very few saints’ days widely celebrated in Scandinavia. It is largely a secular event and is mostly celebrated in kindergartens and elementary schools. A girl and a boy are chosen to represent Lucia. The two have a special crown with lights and lead a procession of children dressed in white gowns and holding candles. They sing the traditional Neapolitan song “Santa Lucia” and hand out lussekatter, a special kind of yellowish, S-shaped bun made with saffron.

    Christmas Eve

    The Christmas tree is to be decorated on the day before Christmas, traditionally by parents after the kids have fallen asleep. Decorations made by several generations, Norwegian flags and lights dominate the green branches, and a shining star rules on top. The evening is spent on the couch watching TV, more specifically Dinner for One, a German black and white short film from 1963.

    On “Christmas morning,” which in Norway refers to the morning of Christmas Eve, the children wake up to find Christmas stockings filled with candy, which is eaten while watching Disney classics and the Czech movie Tre nøtter til Askepott (Three Hazelnuts for Cinderella). Produced in 1973 and dubbed into Norwegian, the movie has been a staple on the morning of Christmas Eve in Norwegian homes for years. Putting the children in front of the TV is also a popular strategy for parents who want to prepare for Christmas Eve in peace. Rice porridge is a favorite as an early dinner, with an almond hidden in the casserole. Whoever finds the almond wins a marzipan pig, but it’s important not to tell before everyone is full and done eating so that the suspense builds throughout dinner.

    Norwegians celebrate Christmas Eve with close family, bringing their gifts to whoever is lucky enough to be the host of that year’s dinner. The gifts are placed underneath the tree and dinner is served with aquavit for the grown ups and a whole lot of patience for the children. The food varies from region to region, with, for example mutton ribs dominating on the west coast and pork ribs being the winner on the east coast. In addition, Norwegians eat turkey and cod, and of course a few have lutefisk.

    In families with young children, rice porridge is placed outside for Santa before dinner and when he comes to visit it is important for Uncle Peter not to be caught because he forgot to change his socks before putting on his costume. Singing Norwegian Christmas songs and dancing around the Christmas tree is also a long-held tradition popular among families with young children.

    After Christmas

    Norwegians have both the first and the second day after Christmas off and they are both spent with family and food. In the days between Christmas and New Years it is popular for children to go carolling in the neighborhood dressed in Christmas gnome costumes and receiving candy from the neighbors they carol for. Many like to remove the tree and decorations sometime in early January and the trees are often burned in an annual neighborhood bonfire.
    God Jul!

    1. Christmas celebration in Norway is rich with traditions, and is dedicated to family and friends, parties and good food. For most people, the celebration of Christmas Eve on December 24 is the most important event.

      Depending on the region, Christmas Eve dinner may consist of roasted pork ribs, steamed lamb ribs or fish. The grown-ups mostly drink special Christmas beer, which some people still brew themselves, and aquavit, while the children are given a special red fizzy Christmas drink. A typical dessert is rice cream served with a sauce based on red berries. After dinner, it is an old tradition for the family to join hands in a circle around the Christmas tree and walk round it singing Christmas carols.

      For most children, the most exciting moment is when Santa Claus knocks on the door and comes in, bringing presents for the children that have been well behaved. Another popular figure associated with Christmas in Norway is the barn gnome. He can be mischievous and full of trickery if he isn’t treated well. On many farms, a big bowl of rice porridge with butter, sugar and cinnamon is therefore left in the barn at Christmas to keep him happy.

  7. Christmas in Georgia

    On calendars in Georgia, Christmas (Georgian: shoba) is celebrated on 7 January (25 December on the Julian calendar). It is traditional in Georgia to go on Alilo (a modified pronunciation of Alleluia), a mass walk in the streets, dressed in special clothing to celebrate and congratulate each other. Most members of the Alilo march are children and they are given sweets by the adults. The Alilo carols vary across the provinces of Georgia. In most songs these words are used: "" (otsdakhutsa dekembersa qriste ishva betlemsao) – "on 25th December Christ was born in Bethlehem". A local variant of the Christmas tree, called Chichilaki, is made of soft wooden material with curled branches. Sometimes it is hazelnut branch which is carved into a Tree of Life-like shape and decorated with fruits and sweets. The Western custom of a Christmas tree (nadzvis khe) is also popular and has been imported through Russia. The Georgian equivalent of "Santa Claus" is known as tovlis papa (or tovlis babua in western Georgian dialects), literally meaning a "Grandfather snow", and is traditionally portrayed with long white beard, dressed in national costume "chokha" and wearing a fur cloak "nabadi".

    1. Christmas in North Georgia would be incomplete without mentioning about the Marietta Square's Santa Claus. The City of Marietta, The Downtown Marietta Development Authority, and Marietta Business Association combine to create a wonderful environment of shopping, food and fun that features the jolly old man in a heated workshop in Glover Park on the Square.

  8. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Slovenia, Christmas (Croatian: Božić, Slovene: Božič) is celebrated mainly as a religious holiday. The festivities begin on Saint Nicholas's Day on December 6 (in Slovenia) or St. Lucy's on December 13 depending on what region (in Croatia). St. Lucy or St. Nicholas brings children presents, and St. Nicholas is said to be accompanied by Krampus who steals away the presents of bad children. In Croatia on St. Lucy's, families will plant wheat seeds in a bowl of shallow water, which will grow several inches by Christmas and are then tied together with a red, blue and white ribbon called trobojnica'.

    On Christmas Eve (Croatian: Badnjak, Slovene: Sveti večer (holy eve)), three candles representing the Trinity are lit and placed in the middle of the wheat, the glow symbolizes the soul of each person. On this day, the tree is decorated, the home is decked with greenery and the women already beginning to prepare the Christmas meal. They also bake special types of bread: one is round inscribed with a cross on top known as the cesnica, another is made with honey, nuts and dried fruit called the Christmas Eve Bread (Croatian: Badnji Kruh, Slovene: Božični kruh). In many villages, straw (which symbolizes Christ's birth in the manger) is spread around the floors of the home for the Christmas Eve dinner. As is customary with Catholic people, meat is not consumed in Croatia, while in Slovenia is. Instead of meat in Croatia and with other food in Slovenia, salad and fish is served, many choosing to eat the Dalmatian specialty bakalar, dried cod fish. The family then sprinkle holy water on their Yule log (badnjak) which they light and watch. In villages, the badnjak is freshly cut that very morning by the father of the household while reciting traditional prayers. At the end of the meal, a piece of the cesnica is cut and dipped in wine and used to sprinkle on the candles to estinguish them, while reciting the Trinitarian formula ("In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen").

    Many families will go to a midnight mass on Christmas Eve and often another on Christmas Day. It is common for Christmas presents to be placed under the tree, to suggest that the Angel or the Baby Jesus (Mali Isus) leaves them there while others are attending midnight mass. Presents are opened after the mass. Christmas is a day of celebrating with family; a large feast is prepared and traditional foods such as stuffed cabbage, turkey, pot roast, pita and smoked meat are served, along with various desserts such as fritule, potica (especially in Slovenia), strudel, and cookies.

    Slovenes are also visited by another one of their trije dobri možje (three good guys), who bring presents in December: Saint Nicholas, Santa Claus and Dedek Mraz ("Grandfather Frost"). Families mostly celebrate New Year's Eve at home with extended family members, friends, and sometimes neighbours. Women prepare cabbage sarma, which they will eat on January 1 to symbolize good fortune, and steak tartare, which they eat on New Year's Eve on toast with butter. At midnight, people go outdoors to watch fireworks, while Dedek Mraz leaves presents under the tree. Epiphany on January 6 marks the end of the Christmas season.

  9. In the weeks preceding Christmas or jõulud, children place a slipper in their windows and receive a piece of candy or some other sweets from visiting elves (päkapikud). Estonians celebrate Christmas on December 24, which is referred to as jõululaupäev ("Christmas Saturday")[clarification needed] and is by act of Parliament a public holiday in Estonia. Each year on this day, the President of Estonia declares the Christmas Peace and attends a Christmas service. The tradition was initiated by the order of Queen Christina of Sweden in the 17th century. Estonian children are visited by jõuluvana ("Old Man Christmas") on Christmas Eve and must sing songs or recite Christmas poems before receiving their gifts.

    The evening meal typically includes pork with sauerkraut or Estonian sauerkraut (mulgikapsad), baked potatoes, white and blood sausage, potato salad with red beet, and pāté. For dessert, Estonians eat gingerbread (piparkoogid) and marzipan. The most highly regarded drinks during this time have been beer and mulled wine or glögi and hõõgvein ("glowing wine"). Estonians leave the leftover food from Christmas dinner on the table overnight, in hopes that the spirits of family, friends, and loved ones will visit and also have something to eat. It is also customary to visit graveyards and leave candles for the deceased.

    25 December or jõulupüha is a relaxed day for visiting relatives.

  10. Armenians celebrate Christmas (surb tsnunt, Սուրբ Ծնունդ) on January 6 as a public holiday in Armenia. It also coincides with the Epiphany. Traditionally, Armenians fast during the week leading up to Christmas. Devout Armenians may even refrain from food for the three days leading up to the Christmas Eve, in order to receive the Eucharist on a "pure" stomach. Christmas Eve is particularly rich in traditions. Families gather for the Christmas Eve dinner (khetum, Խթում), which generally consists of: rice, fish, nevik (նուիկ, a vegetable dish of green chard and chick peas), and yogurt/wheat soup (tanabur, թանապուր). Dessert includes dried fruits and nuts, including rojik, which consists of whole shelled walnuts threaded on a string and encased in grape jelly, bastukh (a paper-like confection of grape jelly, cornstarch, and flour), etc. This lighter menu is designed to ease the stomach off the week-long fast and prepare it for the rather more substantial Christmas Day dinner. Children take presents of fruits, nuts, and other candies to older relatives.

    It is frequently asked as to why Armenians do not celebrate Christmas on December 25 with the rest of the world. Obviously, the exact date of Christ's birth has not been historically established—it is neither recorded in the Gospels. However, historically, all Christian churches celebrated Christ's birth on January 6 until the fourth century. According to Roman Catholic sources, the date was changed from January 6 to December 25 in order to override a pagan feast dedicated to the birth of the Sun which was celebrated on December 25. At the time Christians used to continue their observance of these pagan festivities. In order to undermine and subdue this pagan practice, the church hierarchy designated December 25 as the official date of Christmas and January 6 as the feast of Epiphany. However, Armenia was not affected by this change for the simple fact that there were no such pagan practices in Armenia, on that date, and the fact that the Armenian Church was not a satellite of the Roman Church. Thus, remaining faithful to the traditions of their forefathers, Armenians have continued to celebrate Christmas on January 6 until today.[38]

    In addition to the Christmas tree (tonatsar, Տօնածառ), Armenians (particularly in the Middle East) also erect the Nativity scene. Christmas in the Armenian tradition is a purely religious affair. Santa Claus does not visit the nice Armenian children on Christmas, but rather on New Year's Eve. The idea of Santa Claus existed before the Soviet Union and he was named kaghand papik (Կաղանդ Պապիկ), but the Soviet Union had a great impact even on Santa Claus. Now he goes by the more secular name of Grandfather Winter (dzmerr papik, Ձմեռ Պապիկ).

  11. In the largely Roman Catholic Poland, Christmas Eve begins with a day of fasting and then a night of feasting. The traditional Christmas meal is known as Wigilia ("Vigil"), and being invited to attend a Wigilia dinner with a family is considered a high honour. Before eating, everyone exchanges Christmas greetings with each other by sharing a piece of Christmas wafer (Opłatki), usually blessed by the presiding Bishop, and stamped with a religious image, such as the nativity scene. A traditional Christmas meal in Poland includes herring and borscht (beetroot soup) with uszka (ravioli). Herring provides a main component of the Christmas Eve meal across Poland; herring fillets, herring in aspic etc. Dishes are usually fish, cabbage, forest mushroom (like boletus) and poppyseed based, with herring being very important. The most common dishes are fish soup, with potato salad, pierogi, gołąbki filled with kasza, pickled herring and fruit kompot.[37]

    The feast begins with the appearance of the first star, and is followed by the exchange of gifts. Later, people attend Midnight Mass to solemnly celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. The following day is often spent visiting friends.

    The giftbearer varies. In some regions it is Święty Mikołaj (Saint Nicholas), in others Święty Mikołaj gives his gifts on 6 December and the giftbringer of the Christmas Eve is Gwiazdor ("star man"), Aniołek ("little angel") or Dzieciątko ("baby Jesus").

  12. The Christmas celebration in Ghana extends from December 20 to the first week in January. Approximately 40 percent of Ghanaians are Christians, who celebrate Christmas with traditional church services and family feasts. Palm branches and flowers decorate churches where a tree is sometimes decorated on the church grounds. Brightly colored paper ornaments decorate homes. Families decorate a courtyard mango or cashew tree with paper ornaments or decorate a single tree branch indoors. People travel to reach their ancestral town or village before Christmas. Families enjoy a Christmas Eve dinner that includes chicken stew, peanut soup and dishes cooked with rice and goat meat. Following dinner, Ghanaian families attend a church service where the children put on a Christmas pageant or nativity play. Carolers go from door to door on Christmas Day. Father Christmas brings treats and small gifts which the children receive following a mid-morning church service.

  13. Christmas in Syria
    Christians make up less than 10 percent of the Syrian population. A special mass on December 6 honors Saint Nicholas Thaumaturgus, honored for his kindness and generosity. Family members hold a candle and stand around an unlit bonfire on Christmas Eve. The bonfire is lit after the youngest child reads the Christmas story from the Bible. The bonfire flames predict the family's future for the coming year. The family sings until the fire burns out. Each family member jumps over the embers and ashes three times and makes wishes. Syrians attend an early mass on Christmas Day. Visitors to the home enjoy Middle Eastern sweets, such as baklava, burma and mulabas. The Christmas dinner traditionally includes chicken, oranges, nuts and pastries. The youngest camel that carried the three wise men to Bethlehem brings gifts to Syrian children on New Year's Day. Legend indicates that Jesus blessed the camel with immortality after it suffered exhaustion carrying one of the wise men.

  14. Christmas in Haiti is one of the most popular festivals of this country. It is celebrated in a big way with great pomp and show. Christmas in Haiti is the happiest time of the year for the natives. At this time, the entire country remains preoccupied with intense holiday activities.

    Christmas in Haiti is celebrated and enjoyed by all, kids, adolescents, adults, and even the elderly. Everybody seems to be in a happy mood at this time of the year. Christmas Celebrations in Haiti become prominent with parties, midnight suppers, concerts, family get-togethers and buffets. Haiti Christmas starts from the 24th of December. On the night of the 24th, you will witness midnight suppers and concerts if you are in this country. These are the activities mainly carried out by the natives of the country as well as tourists. They start their celebrations from the 24th night itself.

    During Christmas in Haiti, many people enjoy themselves by visiting the various nightclubs of the country. Young people choose to dance at the different nightclubs of Port-au-Prince and other provincial towns. Christmas in Haiti is also a special time for children. Every year, certain organizations announce that they will distribute toys to the children in need. In the year 2007, the president of the Republic, Rene Preval, distributed toys to kids at the National Palace.

    Christmas in Haiti is full of fun and frolic. Dip yourself in the Christmas celebrations during your Haiti Tours. The Christmas time is right for all types of year-end parties in Haiti. During Christmas in Haiti, the whole country is decorated with Christmas trees and lightings. At this time, beautiful decorations can be seen in people's homes, hotels and malls.

    Christmas is one of the major festivals in Haiti. It celebrated in a big way by all. Besides, Christmas church services also take place and there is too much merry making. Christmas in Haiti is a big occasion. During Christmas, all the families invite their friends and party all through the night. The streets become overcrowded with people during Christmas in Haiti.

  15. The way people celebrate Christmas in Fiji is very different from that of Western countries. Christmas in Fiji is not about extravagant decorations and innumerable presents, but about family get-togethers and lots and lots of mouth watering food. Christmas in Fiji is a time to get together with family and indulging in a wide spread of Christmas fest.

    In fact, families start gathering together in the biggest house in the community two weeks prior to Christmas and remain there till two weeks after New Year. During Christmas, the entire Fijian community gathers together to go on the "fara" or Carol singing. In this event, people call on the local houses in the neighborhood and do the traditional "meke" dances and sing very loudly. If you happen to visit Fiji at this time of the year, make sure that you witness this event, as it is a sight to behold.

    During the "meke" dance and song performances, the entire area is lit by hurricane lamps only and a great deal of fun ensues. The youngsters in Fiji especially look forward to this time of the year as it is considered to be an ideal opportunity to court. Christmas Eve in Fiji is mostly spent in the community church and is accompanied with much carol singing that is much more entertaining than those sung in American and European countries. Most part of the Christmas day in Fiji is spent in preparing food to be cooked in the "lovo", which is an earthen pit oven located outside the house. Sometimes huge communal parties are also held in the Fijian villages and picnics and parties are arranged on the beach. Fijians believe in Santa Claus and children look forward to receiving gifts from him.

    Another popular Christmas tradition in Fiji is that pertaining to the "Christmas Cake". In Fiji it is customary to buy the Christmas cake from the confectionary shop rather than making it at home. Fijians also attend the midnight masses held at the community church on the eve of Christmas.

    1. Two weeks before December 25, people gather together at the largest house in the community and stay there till two weeks after New Year’s Day. They participate in singing, and enjoy the traditional “Meke” dance, which is usually a part of every important occasion in Fiji. This classic dance form involves a fan dance or “seasea” by women and a spear dance known as “Make wesi” by men.

      Christmas in Fiji is characterized by a variety of mouth-watering dishes.

      - The people prefer to cook food in the “lovo” which is an oven full of stones, placed immediately outside their homes.

      - They usually organize a feast for December 24 and 25. Some of the most favorite dishes eaten during Christmas in Fiji are garlic and spice filled chicken, pork, beef, fish, Dalo, and cassava.

      - A special dish called “Palusami” is also cooked during the Christmas celebrations in Fiji. It is prepared by adding spices to mutton and wrapping it in Dalo leaves before cooking in coconut cream.

      - A special drink known as “kava” is an integral part of the festive season.

      - The villagers organize communal (please change this word) parties whereas in towns and cities, people attend small parties at their friends and relatives’ homes.

      - Traditionally, Christmas revelers in Fiji buy cakes instead of baking one at home.

  16. Though Buddhism is the dominant religion in Vietnam, but Christmas in Vietnam is celebrated with much enthusiasm and gusto. Christmas in Vietnam is among the four most important festivals people celebrate. Christianity mainly entered the country during the French rule. The people of Vietnam are fun-loving and social and the different festivals are the occasions for them to showcase their nature. Christmas in Vietnam very much corresponds to that of Central European habits.

    The Christmas in Vietnam is a big event in Ho Chi Minh City and the celebrations here resemble that of Europe. The Midnight mass on Christmas Eve are attended by the Christians in Vietnam only to return home to a delicious Christmas dinner. The dinner has the chicken soup, though the well-off have Turkey and Christmas pudding.

    Christmas in Vietnam - History
    The origin of Christmas has a very tumultuous history. The Christians here used to celebrate Christmas right from the rule of France. As the communists took over the country in 1975, the relation of the church and the state soured and the festivals of Christmas were celebrated in privacy. But during 80s, the liberalism policies adopted by the government helped the people of Vietnam to get influenced by the western influences and ideals. Christmas regained its glory like the earlier days.

    Christmas in Vietnam - Present Days
    Christians nowadays celebrate Christmas with St Nicholas and Santa Claus as well-known. Children put their shoes in front of their doors on Christmas Eve and they get presents in them the next day. The place of Phat Diem in the northern city is the spiritual home for the Catholics of Vietnam. Over hundred of Catholics congregate in Phat Diem for Christmas Eve. The church of the city becomes the place for staging a nativity play by the children to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Christ is known as Kito in Vietnamese.

  17. Christmas Celebrations in Venezuela does not differ from it much and it could also be said that Christmas in Venezuela is going to be an experience, the memories of which, would last with you forever.

    The most important fact linked to the Christmas Celebrations in Venezuela is that on the 16th of December, the families display their ‘pesebres’, an exhibit of the nativity scene. The structure of the ‘pesebres’ is basically a framework, which has been covered up with the help of a painted canvas and its middle point features a reproduction of the Bethlehem manger, the birthplace of Lord Jesus.

    The religious celebrations begin from the 16th of December and continue upto 24th December and masses are held regularly during these nine days, which are attended by a large number of people.
    However, the chief celebration takes place on the eve of the festival of Christmas and it is known as the NocheBuenade Navedad and the last mass before Christmas takes place on Christmas Eve. After the mass, the family members gather together and pamper their taste buds with their traditional holiday meal, which includes the ‘dulche de lechoza’ (desert made with the help of brown sugar and green papaya), ‘hallacas’ and the ‘pan de jamon’ (a long bread that is stuffed with cooked ham and raisins).

    The children of Venezuela have been made to believe or told that it is Child Jesus, who brings gifts for them and not Santa Claus.

    Christmas Celebrations in Venezuela are incomplete without the Christmas traditional songs known as the aguinaldos.

  18. Malaysia has its unique style of celebrating Christmas. Christmas trees are put up by the Christians at their homes one or two weeks before Christmas. All the shopping malls of Malaysia put up with lights and decoration and welcome Christmas, the festival of joy and merry making, with much fervor and enthusiasm. The practice of singing Christmas carols for this very special occasion begins in the middle of December with the carolers going around from house to house one week before Christmas in their respective zones. Along with the carolers there is also a person dressed as Santa Claus who gives out sweets to the children. Christians dress up in new clothes and visit the church for participating in the midnight mass on the eve of Christmas.

    Before the beginning of the midnight mass, sketches or plays enacted by children take place along with the singing of Christmas carols. After the midnight mass service, people greet each other “Merry Christmas”. It is a part of the tradition to say a short prayer before doing anything else in most of the Christian houses in Malaysia. After the prayer is over at the church people generally have wine and fruit cake and after this gifts are exchanged along with snapping photographs and opening of the gifts.

  19. The festival of Christmas is celebrated with much enthusiasm amongst the people of the island called MALDIVES. The festival of Christmas is celebrated with much enthusiasm and interest across the island of Maldives. On the day of Christmas, the carolers walk all over the place singing beautiful Christmas carols and walking across the place and visiting the house of Christian missionaries. The love offering to Jesus is one of the most important parts of Christmas celebrations in the island of Maldives. When it comes to Christmas decoration, the people of Maldives decorate their homes with pine branches, along with Christmas fir. Kids hang up their stockings in order to get beautiful Christmas gifts from Santa Claus. New set of clothes are bought for church services by the people of Maldives and this forms an integral part of the Christmas celebrations at Maldives. Family members go out together in order to celebrate the festive mood of Christmas in Maldives. The family members together play interesting games and also indulge in sunshine bathing.

    The dinner on the night of Christmas is an open air affair arrangement, much like the Christmas dinner arrangement at Africa. The traditional Christmas delicacies in Maldives would include such items like turkey, roast beef, mince pies, suckling pig, yellow rice, vegetables, plum pudding, crackers and paper hats. The popular kind of gift items which are exchanged amongst family and friends during the time of Christmas in Maldives would include such items like cotton cloth, soap, pencils, sweets and also books.

  20. Christmas In Ethiopia

    Ethiopia is one of the oldest countries in Africa and one of the very few where the ancient Julian calendar, in accordance to the Coptic Church, is still followed. This means that here, Christmas is celebrated on 7th January instead of 25th December; and Christmas holidays are referred to as 'Ye Ganna Bal' which means "the Birth of Christ". On this day, attending church is a strict religious observance rather than just being a holiday formality. The day is celebrated in good spirit and there is a lot of vigor in the air. This colorful festival can go on for days, at times. Family and friends get together to indulge in good food, church services and traditional games. Ethiopia is a vast country comprising of more than eighty languages and cultures; no doubt then that the traditions are very diverse. Ethiopian Christmas is an amalgam of many different customs. Read on to learn more about the Ethiopian ways of celebrating Christmas.

    Ethiopian Christmas Customs

    Christmas Eve
    On January 6th, Ethiopian Christmas Eve, people observe a fast. The city is crowded with pilgrims praying, chanting and singing carols on the streets. The fast is broken the next day at dawn, followed by a colorful procession.

    White's the Colour
    For the mass, everyone is clad in a thin, white cotton traditional cloth called the "Shamma" which has bright stripes at the end. This garment is worn like a toga, however urban Ethiopians just wear white western attire. The priests wear turbans, red-white robes and carry colorful fringed umbrellas.

    The Mass
    Masses are conducted in ancient churches as well as the modern ones; the modern churches are designed with three concentric circles. In modern churches, the choir assembles in the outer circle. Each person entering the church is given a candle and they collect in the second circle. The men are separated from the women in this congregation. The center-most circle is the holiest of all and this is where the priests assemble. The mass can last for as long as three hours or probably even more.

    Traditional Games
    As 'Ganna' is more about religious observances, gifts aren't really an integral part of the season. Other than new clothes, the children don't receive much. Instead, food and games are the major highlights. A lot of traditional games are played this season. The men and boys play a game called 'ganna' which is played with a curved stick and a round wooden ball. Another Christmas sport played is called 'yeferas suk' in which the men ride on horseback and shoot lances at each other.

    'Ganna' Delicacies
    Ethiopian Christmas feast includes dishes like "Doro Wat", "Injera" and homemade wine or beer. The Doro Wat is a spicy stew containing vegetables and meat. Purchasing a goat or cow, and slaughtering it for the stew, is a part of the preparations too. Injera is a flat round sourdough bread which is used for serving food thereby, replacing utensils. The Doro Wat is served in beautifully decorated baskets.

    Timkat-A Post Celebration
    Twelve days after Ganna, on January 19th, Ethiopians celebrate a festival called Timkat. This is like a continuation of 'Ganna' and it marks the baptism of Christ. Just like on Ganna, "Shamma" is worn by the people on Timkat also. A special percussion instrument with metal disks, called the sistrum, makes the procession for Timkat that much more festive.

    A different world and certainly a very different way of celebrating Christmas is what Christmas in Ethiopia is all about. Here's hoping the information on Ethiopian Christmas customs has enlightened you on the different ways of how Christmas is celebrated.

  21. Christmas In Greenland

    Christmas is a very important festival in Greenland. It has unique customs and ways of celebrating the Yuletide season. Families in this part of the world, mainly the villagers of Polar Inuit, like to party, meet each other and exchange gifts during Christmas. It is considered a tradition to gift people with sledges which are pairs of polished tusks. It is almost certain that everyone in the village will receives a gift during Christmas. One can very well say that the celebrations of Christmas in Greenland are quite different from the way it is celebrated in other countries. Traditional Christmas celebrations start off on the fourth Sunday before Christmas. As the countdown towards the main eve of the festival begins, decorations and candles are put up everywhere and stars are hung on most of the windows of houses and public buildings. The streets are well-lit and shops and houses are magnificently decorated. Read on to know how Christmas is celebrated in Greenland.

    Christmas Customs From Greenland

    Christmas Eve
    Most people attend Christmas services in their traditional outfits. The men wear white anoraks on the eve of Christmas. During Christmas, children sing in front of houses and people generously give them Christmas goodies in return.

    The Christmas Tree
    Christmas trees are imported from Denmark. Christmas trees are not grown in Greenland, owing to its proximity to the Arctic Circle. Imported Christmas trees are decorated with candles and ornaments by the 23rd of December. Sealskin is hung beside the trees with hearts. Since not everyone can afford importing a tree, others will simply decorate a driftwood tree with heather. The stars and decorations are not taken off until the 6th of January.

    The Christmas Feast
    During Christmas in Greenland, Mattak is eaten a lot. It basically is blubber contained inside the skin of a whale. It tastes similar to fresh coconut but it is difficult to chew and swallow. 'Kiviak', influenced by Eskimo culture is also eaten during Christmas. It basically is the raw flesh of auks, a type of arctic bird. The flesh that is buried in sealskin for several months until a certain level of decomposition is reached. 'Suaasat' is a barbecued caribou soup and has berries and apples with a crisp topping making for the sweet part of the feast. A lot of Danish pastries are served and are particularly craved for during Christmas. The most sought after delicacy in Greenland is the Christmas cake and people have a gala time relishing homemade cake and mulled wine.

    Christmas Traditions In Greenland
    On Christmas nights men serve women their food and also pour them coffee. The dinner is followed by games and dancing throughout the night. The children enjoy the festival and also value their Christmas gifts for life. Greenland is believed to be Santa's home or probably even the place he visits during the summer. The place Santa Claus is supposed to visit is believed to be towards the north of the country in Spraglebugten, near Uummannaq. Children often write letters to Santa, making requests or asking for gifts. Greenland hushes down after Christmas celebrations and prepares for New Year's Eve. People in Greenland celebrate 'New Year' twice. This is because in Greenland, by eight in the night, it is New Year's Day in Denmark and at midnight, it is New Year's Day in Greenland.

  22. Christmas in Canada

    Christmas celebrations are quite similar in the variety to America.

    In some provinces, a big winter festival, called Sinck tuck, is celebrated by the Eskimos, with dancing and a present-giving party.

    In Labrador, turnips are saved from the summer harvest and are given to children, with a lighted candle pushed into a hollowed out hole.

    In Nova Scotia, a country settled by Scottish highlanders, songs and carols brought from Britain two centuries ago are sung each Christmas morning.

    Also in Nova Scotia, during the twelve days of Christmas small groups of belsnicklers, or masked mummers, appear in neighborhoods, ringing bells, making noise, seeking candy or other treats. The hosts may try to guess who the mummers are and if they guess right the mummer removes his or her disguise and stops making rude noises and actions. Children may be quizzed by the mummers on their behavior if they say they have been good they are rewarded with candy.

    In Quebec they display Crиches or nativity scenes in their homes as the Christmas decorations. After attending midnight mass, families may be served tourtiere or pork pie. Another favorite food is Boulettes or small meatballs. A Christmas banquet is called a reveillon.

    In British Columbia Christmas turkey may be accompanied by either fresh or smoked salmon.

    In Canada 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.

    Masked mummers are a Christmas tradition from Newfoundland.

  23. Christmas in Australia

    Christmas in Australia is often very hot. Whereas the northern hemisphere is in the middle of winter, Australians are baking in summer heat. It is not unusual to have Christmas Day well into the mid 30 degrees Celsius, or near 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

    A traditional meal includes a turkey dinner, with ham, and pork. A flaming Christmas plum pudding is added for dessert. In the Australian gold rushes, Christmas puddings often contained a gold nugget. Today a small favor is baked inside. Whoever finds this knows s/he will enjoy good luck. Another treat is Mince Pies.

    Some Australians and particularly tourists often have their Christmas dinner at midday on a local beach, Bondi Beach in Sydney's Eastern Suburbs attracts thousands of people on Christmas Day. Other families enjoy their day by having a picnic. If they are at home, the day is punctuated by swimming in a pool, playing Cricket out the backyard, and other outdoor activities.

    The warm weather allows Australians to enjoy a tradition which commenced in 1937. Carols by Candlelight is held every year on Christmas Eve, where tens of thousands of people gather in the city of Melbourne to sing their favorite Christmas songs. The evening is lit by as many candles singing under a clean cut night sky. The sky with its Southern Cross stars is like a mirror. Sydney and the other capital cities also enjoy Carols in the weeks leading up to Christmas.

    Australians surround themselves with Christmas Bush, a native plant which has little red flowered leaves.

    Christmas shopping is often done in shorts and t-shirts. At many beaches Santa Claus arrives on a surfboard, or even on a surf lifesaving boat.

    Australia's worst Christmas was in 1974, when Cyclone Tracy devastated Darwin in the Northern Territory. More than 60 people were killed.

  24. Christmas in China

    The Christian children of China decorate trees with colorful ornaments. These ornaments are made from paper in the shapes of flowers, chains and lanterns. They also hang muslin stockings hoping that Christmas Old Man will fill them with gifts and treats.

    The Chinese Christmas trees are called "Trees of Light." Santa Claus is called Dun Che Lao Ren which means "Christmas Old Man.".

    The non-Christian Chinese call this season the Spring Festival and celebrate with many festivities that include delicious meals and pay respects to their ancestors. The children are the main focus of these celebrations, they receive new clothes and toys, eat delectable food and watch firecrackers displays.

  25. Christmas in Iran (Persia)

    Christmas in Iran is known as the Little Feast. For the first 25 days of December, a great fast is observed, during which no meat, eggs, milk, or cheese is eaten. It is a time of peace and meditation; a time for attending services at the church. When the fast is over, the feast is begun, for plenty of meat is prepared for the Christmas dinner.

    Christmas Eve is the last day of the fast. Almost before dawn on Christmas Day, the people attend Mass to receive Communion and it is not until they have received this Communion that they are permitted to break fast.

    The boys and girls of Iran have never heard of Santa Claus, so they do not exchange gifts at Christmas. But they do receive new clothes, which they proudly wear all during the happy Christmas week.

    A dish eaten for Christmas day is a kind of chicken stew. It is cooked in large quantities and lasts several days.


  26. Christmas in Venezuela

    In Venezuela on December 16th families bring out their pesebres which is a specially designed and thought out depiction of the nativity scene.

    It is a custom to attend at one of nine carol services is observed by most Venezuelans. Firecrackers explode and bells ring to call worshippers from bed in the predawn hours. The last of the masses takes place on Nochebuena de Navidad Christmas Eve. Families attend a mass on this night and then return home to a huge and fancy dinner.

    On January 6th when the children awaken they will discover that the straw that they had left beside their bed the night before has gone and in its place are gifts the children know that the Magi and their camels have been and when they go to look in the mirror if they have a black smudge on their cheek they know that Balthazar, King of the Ethiopians has kissed them whilst they slept.

  27. Christmas in Korea.

    Christianity is relatively new to Asia, but today about 30% of the South Korean population is Christian. Christmas (Sung Tan Jul) is celebrated by Christian families and is also a public holiday (even though Korea is officially Buddhist). Korea is the only East Asian country to recognize Christmas as a national holiday.

    Christmas Traditions

    Korean Christians celebrate Christmas similar to the way it's celebrated in the West, but since it's primarily a religious holiday in Korea, there is considerably less fanfare and presents. Some families do put up Christmas trees, people exchange presents, and stores do put up holiday decorations, but the festivities start much closer to Christmas day. Families may attend mass or a church service on Christmas Eve or Christmas day (or both), and caroling parties are popular for young Christians on Christmas Eve.

    Grandpa Santa is popular with kids in Korea (Santa Harabujee) and he wears either a red or blue santa suit. Kids know him as a happy grandfather figure who gives out presents, and stores employ Santas to greet shoppers and hand out chocolate and candies. People in Korea usually exchange presents on Christmas Eve and instead of piles of presents, one present (or a gift of money) is customary.

    Christmas Meals and Christmas Day

    Some families celebrate Christmas with meals and gatherings at homes, but Koreans also celebrate Christmas by going out. Restaurants are busy on Christmas, as it is considered a romantic holiday for couples, and theme parks and shows have special Christmas events. Many younger people celebrate and party on Christmas with friends and spend New Year's Day with their families (the reverse to Christmas/New Year's in the West). For non-Christian Koreans, Christmas is a popular shopping day.


  28. Christmas in Turkey

    We would like to use the Christmas season as a reason to invite you to a very special exotic trip. Since we receive our goods (costumes, veils, shoes, jewelery, etc.) from suppliers from all over the world, we would like to take you with us on a tour through the countries of origin of our goods, of belly dancing itself and of the oriental culture. This is why we put together a very special Christmas gift for you. It contains information on the different international Christmas traditions and on the ways Christmas is celebrated in countries abroad. It goes without saying that we focus on the countries of the Orient and Asia. This is why we would like to introduce you to Christmas in India, Egypt and Turkey. Please accompany us on an exciting tour through international Christmas traditions and let yourself be carried away by the pleasant anticipation filling the air before Christmas.

    „Noeliniz Ve Yeni Yiliniz Kutlu Olsun“ – this is how you say „Merry Christmas“ in Turkish. However, Christmas in Turkey cannot be compared to our ideas of a traditional Christmas celebration. Indeed, you can buy Christmas trees in every major supermarket; the streets, shops and houses are festively decorated and the loudspeakers in the shopping malls fill the air with the sound of international Christmas carols. Despite all that, however, December 24th and 25th are completely normal work days. No one celebrates or exchanges gifts.
    For the Turkish, December 31st is the “Great Day”. On this day they celebrate “Yýl-babý”, the “head of the year”. In Istanbul, the biggest Turkish citiy, this holiday traditionally starts on the Taksim square in the heart of the city. Several thousand people meet at this central meeting point in order to dance to the music of the New Year’s Concert and to see the big fireworks.
    Often times, people celebrate on the roof gardens over the Istanbul Straight. Traditional food such as turkey filled with chestnuts is served and the children get small gifts. A very interesting tradition in Turkey is that women often times receive red underwear as a symbol of luck. On New Year’s Eve the big lottery draw takes place which contains a first prize of up to 20 million euro.

    By the way:
    St. Nicholas, the person we celebrate on December 6 – on Saint Nicholas’ Day - , was born in Patara, a small town in Turkey and spent a big part of his life there. He was bishop of Myra, another Turkish town which is called Demre nowadays. During his lifetime already he was known for his generosity, his humanity as well as for his love for children. The word is that he always had his pockets filled with sweets that he handed out to the children in the streets. For this reason he is celebrated even today on St. Nicholas’ Day.

  29. Christmas In Finland

    In Finland, Christmas is celebrated from 24th to 26th of December. Preparations for the festival begin from approximately a month ago with many Finnish people buying the Christmas tree, decorative items and gifts and goodies for the season. Houses are cleaned and special treats like gingerbread cookies and prune tarts prepared for the oncoming festive season.

    The first Sunday in December (also called the First Advent) starts the Finnish Christmas season. Christmas lights begin to appear in the stores along with gifts, goods and goodies for the festival. Children count the days to the festival making their own Christmas calendar with some great pictures related to the Christmas theme or even some chocolate caramel.

    In Finland the Christmas tree is set up on Christmas Eve. Fir trees are felled, tied onto sleds, and taken home to be decorated beautifully with candies, paper flags, cotton, tinsel, apples and other fruits. Candles are used for lighting the trees. Many women make a visit to some local sauna to groom themselves for the occassion.

    Christmas here is replete with different homegrown customs. In Finnish rural areas, it is a popular tradition for farmers to tie a sheaf of grain, nuts and seeds on a pole and placing it in the garden for the birds to feed on. Only after birds eat their dinner, the farmers partake of their Christmas dinner.

    Christmas dinner traditionally begins in Finland with the appearance of the first star in the sky. Dinner is served between 5-7 pm, and consists usually of roasted pig or a roasted ham and vegetables. The main dish is boiled codfish, served white and fluffy, along with allspice, boiled potatoes, and cream sauce. A week ahead of the dinner, the codfish is soaked in a lye solution to soften it. Once the dinner is complete, children head straight to bed while adults chat and drink coffee until about midnight. Other important traditions of the day consist of a visit to the Christmas mass. Many Finnish families also visit cemeteries to remember the dead and have porridge for lunch. Joyful carols and local Christmas songs also form an essential part of Christmas Eve festivities.

    On Christmas Day, church services start out early at six in the morning. Most people visit families and friends. Family get-togethers are the high point of this day. Christmas cards are being exchanged and everyone wishes another "Hyvaa Joulua", meaning "Merry Christmas" in Finnish.

  30. Christmas in Cuba

    Christmas in Cuba is one of the most joyous occasions in the country and observed with great fun and festivity. Following the declaration of Cuba as an atheist nation in 1962, the festival was removed from list of holidays of Cuban calendar in the year 1969 when Fidel Castro decided it was interfering with the sugar harvest festival. Cuban authorities banned the public display of Christmas trees and nativity scenes, other than in places frequented by tourists, such as hotels. But in 1997, President Castro restored the holiday to honor, in the honor of the visit of Pope John Paul II in the island.

    With Christmas coming back to its former glory, a large Mass is now held in Havana's Revolution Square. Thousands of Cubans worship at midnight Masses, as church bells ring out across Havana at the stroke of the midnight hour signifying the transition from Christmas Eve to Christmas Day. Giant-sized TV screens are set up in the square outside Havanna's cathedral so that crowds can watch the Pope celebrate Christmas Mass at St. Peter's in Rome.

    Cubans celebrate Christmas with much enthusiasm and revelry. Gifts are a major highlight of Christmas celebrations in Cuba. Since the occassion signifies spreading love and happiness among fellow human beings, gifts are an inseperable part of the festivities. Those who can afford it try to make a special meal and decorate their houses, and church-going Christians attend services. Cubans spend the days before Christmas buying beans, bananas, fruits and other foods and gifts in preparation for their holiday festivities. Houses are beautifully decorated for Christmas. Dazzling lights, beautiful Christmas tree, balloons, gifts, toys, bells, stars are the major components of Christmas celebrations.

  31. Christmas in India.

    The festival of Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ and conveys his message of love, tolerance and brotherhood. It's a celebration of humanity and mankind. Though Christmas is a primary festival of the Christian calendar but still it has a special significance in everyone's life. It is celebrated as a universal festival through out the nation. The first mention of 25th December as the birth date of Jesus occurred in 336 A.D. in an early Roman calendar. That day onwards this date is celebrated as the birth date of Jesus. In India this festival has a special significance since India is known for its unity in diversity worldwide. The celebration of Christmas shows that even people from different religion takes part in Christmas celebration just as the Indian Christians do. And because of European influence on the country for so long the religion has spread across the country. The doctrines and philosophies of Christianity converted people of many sects to Christianity and today, there is a large Christian community thriving in India that has adopted the Christians festivals as a part of Indian culture as well. However, many of the rituals of these Christian festivals have been modified to suit the climatic conditions of the land.

    Christmas is the most important festival of Indian Christians. Christians in India decorate banana or mango trees instead of traditional pine tree. They also light small oil-burning lamps as Christmas decorations and fill their churches with red flowers. As a part of their celebration they give Christmas gifts to their family members and token of money to poor people as charity. People decorate their houses and churches with poinsettia flowers for the midnight mass. In South India, the Christians put small clay lamps on the rooftops and walls of their houses at Christmas, just as the Hindus do during their festival called Diwali. In Goa, all hotels are jampacked during Christmas period and one must plan well in advance if planning a stay in one of the Goa hotels. The local Indian customs and tradition and customs have a heavy impact on the Indian Christian. And this is visible in their decoration as many Indian Christians decorate their houses with mango leaves. Churches often have an Evening Service on Christmas and are fabulously decorated with poinsettias and candles. Caroling processions on streets and thoroughfares can also be seen.

  32. Christmas Celebrations in Yemen
    Christmas in Yemen is celebrated with great fun and enjoyment. Though Yemen is mainly a Muslim country, it is home to many Christians who celebrate Christmas.
    Christmas is also an officially declared public holiday. In the country of Yemen, the Christmas celebrations are rejoiced in the Churches by the Christian people. So, if you want to enjoy your holidays in Yemen, then Christmas in Yemen will be the most stunning festival to enjoy.

    The Yemeni people understand the actual meaning of Christmas, thus Christmas in Yemen is celebrated with great fervor. They believe that Jesus came into the earth as a baby on this day. The festival of Christmas in Yemen starts on the previous day and it is celebrated as the Christmas Eve. This Christmas evening is exulted with all night service that features worship, advocating and articles carried out by diverse groups such as children and young people. The children enchant the bible verses to speak it out publicly on Christmas day at Church. The same is done by the women to rejoice Christmas in Yemen. At the Christmas Eve, every language group decks up and sings several songs in their language.

    On the Christmas Day in Yemen, the native people organize bonfire. The bonfire is lit in front of the churchyard. The bishop, channeling a figure of the Baby Jesus guides the entire service of bonfire. Later the Bishop consecrates the people with a touch, which is known as the "touch of peace."

    After the celebration of Christmas in Yemen is ended, the crowds of the women come to the Church and travels around to diverse courtyards to sing, welcome people and dance. The Church choir also does the same. If they come to your house, then it is normal to give a small gift of money to the people visiting your home. This is performed after Christmas Carol Singing. All the people do not give and receive gifts at Christmas in Yemen.

    The occasion of Christmas in Yemen is marked by good food and long prayer services. To spend your vacation this season, you can come to Yemen on 25th December.

  33. Christmas Celebrations in Philippines
    Since Philippines is one of the major Catholic countries in Asia, Christmas in Philippines is a great time for the country. The Christmas in Philippines is celebrated over a long period of time and comprises one of the largest holidays in its calendar.
    Christmas in Philippines is celebrated by a number of ethnic groups in a diversity of ways which the tourist will greatly enjoy along his Philippines Tours. Among them the first in importance and popularity are the Christmas parties celebrated in the urban areas of the nation which is principally held in the second week of December. It is accompanied by a range of activities like the Kris Kringle, dancing and music, plays as well as parlor games in schools. The Philippines Christmas is initiated by the traditional Misa de Gallo which are nine day masses held in the dawn starting from 16th of December.

    The Filipino families after the masses are completed also partake in the traditional delicacies associated with Christmas for breakfast or directly after mass when they are also sold by vendors. Some of them are bibingka which is rice flour with the mixture of an egg based cake, puto bumbong, essentially a purple sticky rice delicacy, tsokolate or thick Spanish cocoa and salabat which is hot ginger tea. There are also a lot of celebrations on Christmas Eve when there is Holiday in Philippines which the tourist must enjoy along his Philippines Travel.

    After the midnight mass there is a Christmas Eve feast with Chocolate drinks and Christmas Ham as well as the exchange of various presents during this time. Catholic devotees in the numerous schools and provinces also celebrate the occasion by enacting the journey of Joseph and the Blessed Virgin Mary searching for lodging for the birth of Christ. This is part of a street pageant which is performed after darkness accompanied by folksongs and other local introductions and thus integrating the Christmas celebrations with the local culture.

    Finally Philippines Christmas is celebrated within the family after midnight with Misa de Aguinaldo or the midnight mass celebrating the holy occasion of the birth of Christ. Facts about Philippines also indicate the tradition where the family meets up with their elders of the extended family in order to pay their respects. Christmas carols and feasts along with giving gifts are the primary components of the celebration of Christmas in Philippines.

  34. Christmas Celebrations in Greece
    Christmas in Greece is one of the popular festivals in Greece among the local people. It is the time when the Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.
    This festival is celebrated worldwide in December. Christmas in Greece holds a lot of significance among the locals.

    Christmas in Greece goes back to the time of St. Nicholas, who was known as the patron saint of sailors. According to Greek tradition, his clothes were soaked with brine, his beard drenched with saltwater, and his face was covered with perspiration because he had been fighting the storms and waves to reach sinking ships and rescue drowning men from the sea. Even today there is an old custom where many ships never leave port without a St. Nicholas icon carried in the boat.

    Christmas Festival in Greece is in fact one of the most popular festival. Previously this festival was not considered much of a holiday as compared with Easter. Over the years this festival has become increasingly popular. The houses and streets are decorated with lights. If you get an opportunity to visit Athens you will see the largest Christmas tree in Europe. The tree towers above the constitution square. Besides there are quite a number of stage shows which features the most celebrated Greek entertainers.

    During this time of the year a common feeling of brotherhood is spread all over Greece. Most of these families have been sharing this custom for centuries. It is a festive time when people celebrate the event with their friends and family. Guests are invited for dinner and a variety of scrumptious dishes are prepared. The guests are served with roasted lamb and pork with loaves of bread which are integral parts of Christmas dinner in Greece.

    During this time of the year people sing and dance to the tunes of the carol. Many children travel from one house to another singing ‘Kalanda’. These children are presented with sweets and coins. On the eve of Christmas people exchange presents which are either kept beneath the Christmas tree or hung on the artificial branches. On Christmas day these presents are opened. At the end of the day the families gather for a community dinner.

    Besides, there are quite a number of other rituals to keep the bad spirits away. There are a number of beliefs among the common people connected with these spirits. These creatures are believed to be species of goblins and appear during the 12-day period following Christmas to the Epiphany.Christmas in Greece is a celebration time when people shed off their grievances and make up for their past act of unkindness.

  35. Christmas Celebrations in Netherlands
    Christmas in Netherlands is one of the most cherished festivals. To the busy Netherlands citizens, Christmas in Netherlands brings a golden opportunity to spend an enjoyable vacation with near and dear ones.
    The Dutch eagerly wait for 5th December. It is the day on which they celebrate the coming of Sinterklaas Avond or St. Nicholas eve. They celebrate with family doings on December 6th and after that everyone is ready to prepare for Netherlands Christmas on December 25th and then for December 26th or New Year and Three Kings Day on January 6th.

    In the Netherlands St. Nicholas, known as Sinterklaas, is acknowledged for his kindness and generosity. Dutch children are told that on 5th December, on his feast day, he sails from Spain. They fill their shoes with hay and sugar for his horse and awake to find them showered with gifts such as nuts and candy. Sometimes Sinterklaas appears in person in the children's homes, showing a remarkable resemblance to the children's father or uncle. The people of Twente in East Netherlands celebrate a special Advent ceremony. Special horns are driven to chase away the evil spirits and to announce the birth of Christ.

    The colonial flavor of the typical Dutch tradition, Dutch culture, venerable rituals and conventions of the Scandinavian heritage are clearly shown in the celebration of Christmas in Netherlands. Elegant and stylish decoration, sweet music, gorgeous colors and lively parties make Netherland the most sought after destination during the Christmas time. Celebration of Christmas in Netherlands is incomplete without laying the Christmas table with traditional recipes.

    Come to Netherlands Tours and enjoy the grand celebration of Christmas in Netherlands.

  36. Christmas Celebrations in Jamaica
    Christmas In Jamaica is a very special occasion in Jamaica. For most Jamaicans, Christmas is purely a religious holiday. All the residents of the island irrespective of their community, religion and financial background spontaneously participate in the festival.
    If you are planning a visit to Jamaica during Christmas, there are several ways to celebrate Christmas in Jamaica. For several years Christmas has been one of the most important Festivals in Jamaica.

    Jamaica Christmas has become one of the famous events in Jamaica as it attracts a large number of visitors from all over the world. If you are planning Jamaica Tours in December then arrange it in a way that you can celebrate Christmas in Jamaica. During Christmas there are many things to do in Jamaica. Jamaica Christmas season begins with the lighting of the Christmas tree. Along with the tree the streets, buildings and squares in the city are all decorated with colored lights, big stars and various glittering decorations. Before Christmas Day, city dwellers greet each other a 'Merry Christmas'. Radio stations play 'Christmas carols' all day.

    Decorating the Christmas tree with lights and balls, bells stars, tinsels, gifts, little toy Santa Clauses and many other decorations is one of the most desired things to do before Christmas. As is in other countries of the world, Jamaicans too clean their houses, decorate the exterior and interior of their houses and do refurbishments. With Christmas round the corner people start shopping. Gifts, chocolates, greetings cards and clothes are popular buys during the eve of Christmas in Jamaica.

    After all these, people spend the New Year in Jamaica quietly with their family and friends at home. Women make a special Christmas meal and cakes for their children and the rest of their family. Christmas meal in Jamaica include lots of fruits, meat, sorrel and rum punch. Jamaican red wines and rum fruit cakes are the most popular traditional food that you must taste at the time of Christmas in Jamaica.

  37. Christmas Celebrations in Indonesia
    Christmas in Indonesia is the time to celebrate and pray to Lord Jesus. To celebrate Christmas in Indonesia, many tourists and travelers from various corners of the world come to Indonesia. Indonesia is predominantly a Christian nation. About 5% of the population is Christian.
    The people of Indonesia love to celebrate Christmas. Indonesia festivals and events are celebrated with much pomp and gaiety by locals as well as foreigners.

    One month prior to Christmas in Indonesia people of Indonesia start shopping for Christmas. Caswell's and the other western-oriented supermarket chains stock turkeys, cranberry sauce and other Christmas goodies for the occasion. People throng to these stores in advance because these stores have limited stock.

    To arrange for the perfect Christmas dinner people visit three or four different supermarkets in order to get all the ingredients, as one supermarket hardly has it all.

    Tropical pine trees can be purchased in Indonesia. The plastic variations are available in major department stores. Many department stores carry a wide selection of Christmas cards and decorations.

    Gifts under the tree or filled stockings on Christmas morning are popular in every Christian household. Special lunches with friends, progressive dinners, pictures with Santa, gift exchanges, Christmas parties, special musical performances and many other activities are held on this special day. Christmas party with a gift exchange is how major multi national companies celebrate it in Indonesia.

    There are scores of needy organizations that collect charitable donations on this day. Children go to an orphanage and deliver gifts or donations. The expatriate community organizes many holiday activities for their members. They even organize charity functions that benefit some of the less fortunate in the city. Women's groups organize Christmas bazaars that usually take place in November. This gives expatriates a chance to shop for Christmas presents before going on leave as well as raise funds to be donated to charity.

  38. Christmas Celebrations in Costa Rica
    Christmas in Costa Rica is very popular among local people as well travelers. During this time the weather remains very good. The cold weather will in fact help you to take the full pleasure of the Christmas festival in Costa Rica.
    Travelers who plan their trip here during the Christmas in Costa Rica will find the cities and streets all lit up and that unmistakable festive environment.

    Christmas in Costa Rica is the most colorful in San Jose. This is mainly because it is the capital of Costa Rica. The way Christmas in Costa Rica is celebrated is different from other parts of the world. The Christmas celebration in Costa Rica has its own style and that is why no travelers wants to miss a chance of seeing it.

    Christmas in Costa Rica mean Cypress tree. This is the most common tree that is used to deck homes, shops and other places. The scent of the tree immediately reminds one that Christmas is here. Another tree that has a special place in the life of the people of this country is then tree that is present bin the compound of the Children's National Hospital. The best part of the tree that is also in tune with the theme of the Christmas is that it provides to the children who are admitted here.

    Thus your Christmas in Costa Rica will be a very different and you will remember that experience for a long time. The people here also use the traditional items like lights and balls to decorated their houses during this time.

    Christmas festival in Costa Rica mean that you will be able to take a look at the Portal. It is one of the main parts of the celebration. The portal is a complete enactment of the birth of Jesus that includes the models of little Jesus, Mary, Joseph and the three wise men, namely Melchor, Gaspar and Baltazar. Thus the importance of this part in the festivities can be easily understood.

    The fact that gifts are brought by bay Jesus and not by Santa separates the Christmas in Costa Rica from that celebrated in other parts of the world. This is a uniqueness of Christmas Celebration that can be seen here. The night when the gifts are distributed in known as “la Noche Buena” that is the Good Night. This is the reason that it is one of the popular holidays in Costa Rica.

  39. Bulgarians celebrate Christmas on December 25, though this is somewhat unexpected because Bulgaria is an Orthodox country. The traditional Eastern Orthodox celebration of Christmas lands on January 7. Bulgaria's Orthodox Church follows the Gregorian calendar, which means its religious observances are in keeping with those in the West. If you're in Bulgaria during the winter season, you will see cities like Sofia bedecked in Christmas lights. The Sofia Christmas Market is the ideal place for travelers to go during the month of December to experience Bulgarian Christmas cheer.
    Bulgarian Christmas Eve
    Bulgaria's Christmas Eve is celebrated with a meal consisting of an odd number of dishes which follows the forty-day Advent fast. This vegetarian meal includes grains, vegetables, fruits, and nuts. Walnuts, in particular, are found on the Bulgarian Christmas Eve table. These nuts are cracked in order to predict success or failure for the coming year. Another special aspect of the the Bulgarian Christmas Eve meal is the round loaf of bread, into which a coin is baked. The person who finds the coin will be rewarded with good fortune.

    The Christmas Eve dinner table may not be cleared until the next morning to provide sustenance for the ghosts of ancestors who may come back to visit before Christmas morning.

    One belief that is central to Bulgarian culture is the legend that the Virgin Mary bore Christ on Christmas Eve, but only announced his birth the day after, on Christmas Day. Legend also says that Mary was in labor from December 20th until the birth of Christ. December 20th is the Day of St. Ignat, or Ignazhden.
    Bulgarian Christmas Customs
    The vegetarian fast having ended, everyone enjoys an enormous dinner on Christmas Day, with a main dish of some type of meat (often pork).

    Koledari, or Christmas carolers, go from house to house through villages. These groups of carolers are typically made up of young men dressed in traditional costumes which vary from region to region. Some preparation goes into the koledari's performances, which begin at midnight on Christmas Eve. This tradition is said to protect against evil spirits. The koledari are rewarded with food in return for their services.

  40. In terms of its traditions, Switzerland is basically four different countries. There are German, French and Italian areas. Gifts may be given either on Christmas Eve or New Year's Day, and they are brought by the Christkindli or St. Nicholas or even Father Christmas with his wife Lucy. Both the manger and the Christmas tree hold sway. Carols drift on the air in four languages. Switzerland has maintained its careful neutrality by absorbing the best of all nations.

    A tinkling of a silver bell heralds the arrival of Christkindli - a white clad angel, with a face veil held in place by a jeweled crown. The tree candles are lit as she enters each house and hands out presents from the basket held by her child helpers.

    The week before Christmas, children dress up and visit homes with small gifts. Bell ringing has become a tradition, and each village competes with the next when calling people to midnight mass. After the service, families gather to share huge homemade doughnuts called ringli and hot chocolate.

    In Switzerland, the Chlausjagen Festival or Feast of St. Nichohlas is celebrated at dusk on 6 December with a procession of "lifeltrager' wearing gigantic illuminated lanterns in the shape of a Bishop's mitre on their heads.

    The Swiss wait for the Christ child called Christkindli, to arrive with gifts for all in his reindeer-drawn sleigh.

  41. 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.

  42. Christmas in Malta

    A Maltese Christmas traditionally is centered on the crib or presepju. The child's version of the church crib is called grolta. Everywhere had at least one crib, varying in size and detail. The crib figures are called pasturi and represent Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, the shepherds, angels, villagers and animals such as cows, donkeys and sheep. The Cribs are surrounded by lights and plants.

    Midnight mass on Christmas Eve is the climax of all religious activities. The whole family attends and everyone wears new clothes. The mass begins with choirs singing carols in Maltese.
    The highlight of the mass is the reading of a story of the nativity by a ten-year-old boy. After Mass it is customary to greet Il-Milied It-Taijeb which is Happy Christmas, to all who attend.

  43. 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 with homemade wood and straw baubles, 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 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.