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Christmas Traditions Around the World How "Merry Christmas" is said ..... Afrikaans: Geseënde Kersfees Afrikander: Een Plesierige Kerfees African/ Eritrean/ Tigrinja: Rehus-Beal-Ledeats Albanian:Gezur Krislinjden Arabic: Milad Majid Argentine: Feliz Navidad Armenian: Shenoraavor Nor Dari yev Pari Gaghand Azeri: Tezze Iliniz Yahsi Olsun Bahasa Malaysia: Selamat Hari Natal Basque: Zorionak eta Urte Berri On! Bengali: Shuvo Naba Barsha Bohemian: Vesele Vanoce Brazilian: Feliz Natal Breton: Nedeleg laouen na bloavezh mat Bulgarian: Tchestita Koleda; Tchestito Rojdestvo Hristovo Catalan: Bon Nadal i un Bon Any Nou! Chile: Feliz Navidad Chinese: (Cantonese) Gun Tso Sun Tan'Gung Haw Sun Chinese: (Mandarin) Kung His Hsin Nien bing Chu Shen Tan (Catonese) Gun Tso Sun Tan'Gung Haw Sun Choctaw: Yukpa, Nitak Hollo Chito Columbia: Feliz Navidad y Próspero Año Nuevo Cornish: Nadelik looan na looan blethen noweth Corsian: Pace e salute Crazanian: Rot Yikji Dol La Roo Cree: Mitho Makosi Kesikansi Croatian: Sretan Bozic Czech: Prejeme Vam Vesele Vanoce a stastny Novy Rok Danish: Glædelig Jul Duri: Christmas-e- Shoma Mobarak Dutch: Vrolijk Kerstfeest en een Gelukkig Nieuwjaar! or Zalig Kerstfeast English: Merry Christmas Eskimo: (inupik) Jutdlime pivdluarit ukiortame pivdluaritlo! Esperanto: Gajan Kristnaskon Estonian: Ruumsaid juulup|hi Ethiopian: (Amharic) Melkin Yelidet Beaal Faeroese: Gledhilig jol og eydnurikt nyggjar! Farsi: Cristmas-e-shoma mobarak bashad Finnish: Hyvaa joulua Flemish: Zalig Kerstfeest en Gelukkig nieuw jaar French: Joyeux Noel Frisian: Noflike Krystdagen en in protte Lok en Seine yn it Nije Jier! Galician: Bo Nada Gaelic: Nollaig chridheil agus Bliadhna mhath ùr! German: Fröhliche Weihnachten Greek: Kala Christouyenna! Haiti: (Creole) Jwaye Nowel or to Jesus Edo Bri'cho o Rish D'Shato Brichto Hausa: Barka da Kirsimatikuma Barka da Sabuwar Shekara! Hawaiian: Mele Kalikimaka Hebrew: Mo'adim Lesimkha. Chena tova Hindi: Shub Naya Baras Hausa: Barka da Kirsimatikuma Barka da Sabuwar Shekara! Hawaian: Mele Kalikimaka ame Hauoli Makahiki Hou! Hungarian: Kellemes Karacsonyi unnepeket Icelandic: Gledileg Jol Indonesian: Selamat Hari Natal Iraqi: Idah Saidan Wa Sanah Jadidah Irish: Nollaig Shona Dhuit, or Nodlaig mhaith chugnat Iroquois: Ojenyunyat Sungwiyadeson honungradon nagwutut. Ojenyunyat osrasay. Italian: Buone Feste Natalizie Japanese: Shinnen omedeto. Kurisumasu Omedeto Jiberish: Mithag Crithagsigathmithags Korean: Sung Tan Chuk Ha Lao: souksan van Christmas Latin: Natale hilare et Annum Faustum! Latvian: Prieci'gus Ziemsve'tkus un Laimi'gu Jauno Gadu! Lausitzian:Wjesole hody a strowe nowe leto Lettish: Priecigus Ziemassvetkus Lithuanian: Linksmu Kaledu Low Saxon: Heughliche Winachten un 'n moi Nijaar Macedonian: Sreken Bozhik Maltese: IL-Milied It-tajjeb Manx: Nollick ghennal as blein vie noa Maori: Meri Kirihimete Marathi: Shub Naya Varsh Navajo: Merry Keshmish Norwegian: God Jul, or Gledelig Jul Occitan: Pulit nadal e bona annado Papiamento: Bon Pasco Papua New Guinea: Bikpela hamamas blong dispela Krismas na Nupela yia i go long yu Pennsylvania German: En frehlicher Grischtdaag un en hallich Nei Yaahr! Peru: Feliz Navidad y un Venturoso Año Nuevo Philipines: Maligayan Pasko! Polish: Wesolych Swiat Bozego Narodzenia or Boze Narodzenie Portuguese:Feliz Natal Pushto: Christmas Aao Ne-way Kaal Mo Mobarak Sha Rapa-Nui (Easter Island): Mata-Ki-Te-Rangi. Te-Pito-O-Te-Henua Rhetian: Bellas festas da nadal e bun onn Romanche: (sursilvan dialect): Legreivlas fiastas da Nadal e bien niev onn! Rumanian: Sarbatori vesele or Craciun fericit Russian: Pozdrevlyayu s prazdnikom Rozhdestva is Novim Godom Sami: Buorrit Juovllat Samoan: La Maunia Le Kilisimasi Ma Le Tausaga Fou Sardinian: Bonu nadale e prosperu annu nou Serbian: Hristos se rodi Slovakian: Sretan Bozic or Vesele vianoce Sami: Buorrit Juovllat Samoan: La Maunia Le Kilisimasi Ma Le Tausaga Fou Scots Gaelic: Nollaig chridheil huibh Serbian: Hristos se rodi. Singhalese: Subha nath thalak Vewa. Subha Aluth Awrudhak Vewa Slovak: Vesele Vianoce. A stastlivy Novy Rok Slovene: Vesele Bozicne Praznike Srecno Novo Leto or Vesel Bozic in srecno Novo leto Spanish: Feliz Navidad Swedish: God Jul and (Och) Ett Gott Nytt År Tagalog: Maligayamg Pasko. Masaganang Bagong Taon Tami: Nathar Puthu Varuda Valthukkal Trukeese: (Micronesian) Neekiriisimas annim oo iyer seefe feyiyeech! Thai: Sawadee Pee Mai or souksan wan Christmas Turkish: Noeliniz Ve Yeni Yiliniz Kutlu Olsun Ukrainian: Srozhdestvom Kristovym or Z RIZDVOM HRYSTOVYM Urdu: Naya Saal Mubarak Ho Vietnamese: Chuc Mung Giang Sinh Welsh: Nadolig Llawen Yoruba: E ku odun, e ku iye'dun! Christmas in Africa Preparation for Christmas in the Congo begins when some group is designated to prepare the annual Christmas pageant. Christmas day begins with groups of carolers walking to and fro through the village, along the roadway, by the houses of the missionaries, singing the lovely carols known the world around. Often people may be awakened by a group of carolers beginning to converge on the house of worship. They return home to make final preparation as to the clothes one must wear and also as to his offering for the Christmas service. The most important part of their Christmas worship service is the love offering, this is the gift in honor of Jesus. Then at about 8 or 9 o'clock everyone makes their way to the celebration of the birthday of Jesus. Everyone who attends the service goes forward to lay down their gift upon the raised platform near the Communion table. Not one person will attend the service without giving a gift. Now people have Christmas dinners after the service, preparing tables out in front of their home and inviting many of their intimate friends to share. Christmas in South Africa is a summer holiday. In December, the southern summer brings glorious days of sunshine that carry an irresistible invitation to the beaches, the rivers, and the shaded mountain slopes. Then the South African holiday season reaches its height. Schools are closed, and camping is the order of the day. In South Africa there is no snow, but it has many flowers, many beautiful varieties of cultivated and wild flowers being in their full pride. In the cities and towns carolers make their rounds on Christmas Eve. Church services are held on Christmas morning. Christmas Eve celebrations in larger centers include "Carols by Candlelight" and special screen and floor shows. Homes are decorated with pine branches, and all have the decorated Christmas fir in a corner, with presents for the children around. At bedtime on Christmas Eve, children may also hang up their stockings for presents from Father Christmas. Many South Africans have a Christmas dinner in the open-air lunch. For many more, it is the traditional dinner of either turkey, roast beef, mince pies, or suckling pig, yellow rice with raisins, vegetables, and plum pudding, crackers, paper hats, and all. In the afternoon, families go out into the country and usually there are games or bathing in the warm sunshine, and then home in the cool of the evening. Boxing Day is also a proclaimed public holiday usually spent in the open air. It falls on December 26 and is a day of real relaxation. In Ghana, on Africa's west coast, most churches herald the coming of Christmas by decorating the church and homes beginning with the first week in Advent, four weeks before Christmas. This season happens to coincide with the cocoa harvest, so it is a time of wealth. Everyone returns home from wherever they might be such as farms or mines. On the eve of Christmas, children march up and down the streets singing Christmas Carols and shouting "Christ is coming, Christ is coming! He is near!" in their language. In the evening, people flock to churches which have been decorated with Christmas evergreens or palm trees massed with candles. Hymns are sung and Nativity plays are presented. On Christmas Day, children and older people, representing the angels in the fields outside Bethlehem, go from house to house singing. Another church service is held where they dress in their native attire or Western costumes. Later on there is a feast of rice and yam paste called fufu with stew or okra soup, porridge and meats. Families eat together or with close neighbors, and presents are given. On the west coast of Africa, in Liberia, most homes have an oil palm for a Christmas tree, which is decorated with bells. On Christmas morning, people are woken up by carols. Presents such as cotton cloth, soap, sweets, pencils, and books are exchanged. Also in the morning a church service is held in which the Christmas scene is enacted and hymns and carols are sung. Dinner is eaten outdoors with everyone sitting in a circle to share the meal of rice, beef and biscuits. Games are played in the afternoon, and at night fireworks light up the sky. Christmas in Mexico Mexicans share many traditions with the Spanish. Their main Christmas celebration is called La Posada, which is a religious procession that reenacts the search for shelter by Joseph and Mary before the birth of Jesus. During the procession, the celebrants go from house to house carrying the images of Mary and Joseph looking for shelter. Santa Claus is not predominant, but the bright red suit is represented in the traditional flower of the season. This flower is the poinsettia, which has a brilliant red star-shaped bloom. It is believed that a young boy walking to the church to see the nativity scene showing the birth of Jesus had realized on the way that he had no gift to offer the Christ child so he gathered up some plain green branches as he walked in he was laughed at but upon placing the branches near the manger they started to bloom a bright red poinsettia flower on each branch. The Mexican children receive gifts. On Christmas day they are blindfolded and taken to try and break a decorated clay piñata that dangles and swings at the end of a rope. Once the piñata has been broken, the children clamber to recover the candy that was inside the piñata. Those children who have been good also on January 6th receive a gift from the Three Wise Men. Mexicans attend a midnight mass service which is called la Misa Del Gallo or "the rooster's mass," and at the mass they sing lullabies to Jesus. Christmas in Russia In Russia the religious festival of Christmas is being replaced by the Festival of Winter but there are some traditions that are still kept up in some parts of the country. In the traditional Russian Christmas, special prayers are said and people fast, sometimes for 39 days, until January 6th Christmas Eve, when the first evening star in appears in the sky. Then begins a twelve course supper in honor of each of the twelve apostles - fish, beet soup or Borsch, cabbage stuffed with millet, cooked dried fruit and much more. Hay is spread on the floors and tables to encourage horse feed to grow in the coming year and people make clucking noises to encourage their hens to lay eggs. On Christmas Day, hymns and carols are sung. People gather in churches which have been decorated with the usual Christmas trees or Yelka, flowers and colored lights. Christmas dinner includes a variety of different meats - goose and suckling pig are favorites. Babushka is a traditional Christmas figure who distributes presents to children. Her name means grandmother and the legend is told that she declined to go with the wise men to see Jesus because of the cold weather. However, she regretted not going and set off to try and catch up, filling her basket with presents. She never found Jesus, and that is why she visits each house, leaving toys for good children. The role of Father Christmas was played by Dedushka Moroz or Grandfather Christmas. Christmas in Italy The Christmas season in Italy goes for three weeks, starting 8 days before Christmas known as the Novena. During this period, children go from house to house reciting Christmas poems and singing. In some parts shepherds bring musical instruments into the villages, play and sing Christmas songs. In the week before Christmas children go from house to house dressed as shepherds, playing pipes, singing and reciting Christmas poems. They are given money to buy presents. A strict feast is observed for 24 hours before Christmas Eve, and is followed by a celebration meal, in which a light Milanese cake called panettone features as well as chocolate. Presents and empty boxes, are drawn from the Urn of Fate - lucky dip, which always contains one gift per person. By twilight, candles are lighted around the family crib known as the Presepio, prayers are said, and children recite poems. At noon on Christmas Day the pope gives his blessing to crowds gathered in the huge Vatican square. In Italy the children wait until Epiphany, January 6, for their presents. According to tradition, the presents are delivered by a kind ugly witch called Befana on a broomstick. It was said that she was told by the three kings that the baby Jesus was born, she was busy and delayed visiting the baby. She missed the Star lost her way and has been flying around ever since, leaving presents at every house with children in case he is there. She slides down chimneys, and fills stockings and shoes with good things for good children and it is said leaves coal for children who are not so good On christmas Eve the dinner is called cenone which is a traditional dish of eel. Christmas lunch is Tortellini in Brodo which is filled pasta parcels in broth, also served is cappone which is boiled capon, or roasts are served in central Italy. Another famous cake is pandoro which originated from Verona. Christmas in Japan Only 1 per cent of Japanese people believe in Christ. Even so, most Japanese people decorate their stores and homes with evergreens during Christmas. They enjoy giving each other gifts, and this is the part they celebrate. They have a Buddhist monk called Hotei-osho who acts like Santa Claus. He brings presents to each house and leaves them for the children. Some think he has eyes in the back of his head, so children try to behave like he is nearby. Among the Christian Japanese Christmas is not a day for the family. They do not have turkey or plum pudding, rather than that the day is spent doing nice things for others especially those who are sick in hospitals. Christmas for those in Sunday schools is the happiest day of the year. On Christmas Eve or Christmas night, the children put on programs that last for hours, they sing, they recite and they put on a drama of the day Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Most children may not like Hotei-osho so they may receive their presents from Santa who goes around with a red-nosed reindeer. Christmas in Ethiopia The Ethiopian Christmas known as Ganna is celebrated on January 7th. This celebration takes place in ancient churches carved from solid volcanic rock and also in modern churches that are designed in three concentric circles. Men and boys sit separately from girls and women. Also the choir sings from the outside circle. People receive candles as they enter the church. After lighting the candles everyone walks around the church three times, then stands throughout the mass, which may last up to three hours. Food served at Christmas usually includes injera, a sourdough pancake like bread. Injera serves as both plate and fork. Doro wat, a spicy chicken stew might be the main meal. A piece of the injera is used to scoop up the wat. Baskets decorated beautifully are used to serve the wat. Gift giving is a very small part of Christmas celebration. Children usually receive very simple presents such as clothing. In Ethiopia Christmas day is January 7, so on Christmas Eve the city is crowded with pilgrims from all parts of the country. They remain outdoors all night, praying and chanting. In the morning, a colorful procession makes its way to a nearby hilltop where a service is held. Three young men march at the head of the crowd, lashing whips from left to right to keep the people in line. Those who worship are fed with bread and wine that has been blessed by priests. After the service is over the rest of the day is spent dancing, playing sport and feasting. 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. Christmas in Czech Republic Celebrations for Christmas begin with the visit of St. Nicholas on December 6th and end with the visit of the Three Kings. In Czech Republic, St. Nicholas is called Svaty Mikalas and is believed to climb to earth down from heaven on a golden rope along with his companions: an angel and a whip-carrying devil. In Czech Republic, a girl can tell her future, it is said that according to tradition, by putting a cherry twig in water on December 4th. If the twig blossoms before Christmas Eve, the girl will marry sometime during the year. The famous King Wenceslas of the Christmas Carol was a real King in this country. His goodness and his beliefs in Christianity infuriated his mother, and his brother murdered him on the Church steps. Before he died he asked for God's mercy for his brother's evil act. He became the patron saint of Czech Republic. Christmas is a quiet and peaceful religious time here. They fast for one day, and have baked carp for Christmas dinner. St Nicholas visits, and brings good children gifts, and for those children who are bad, the devil is said to come with switches. At midnight, most families go to Holy Mass or Pasterka as it is known. On Christmas Day, the churches are filled with evergreens and Christmas Trees. Celebrations go on for three days. Czechs eat a soup made of cod roe and tempt each other with tales of a mythical golden pig. Christmas in Ireland Christmas in Ireland lasts from Christmas Eve to the feast of the Epiphany on January 6, which is referred to as Little Christmas. Ireland's Christmas is more religious than a time of fun. Lighted candles are placed in windows on Christmas Eve, as a guide that Joseph and Mary might be looking for shelter. The candles are usually red in color, and decorated with sprigs of holly. Irish women bake a seed cake for each person in the house. They also make three puddings, one for each day of the Epiphany such as Christmas, New Year's Day and the Twelfth Night. After the Christmas evening meal, bread and milk are left out and the door unlatched as a symbol of hospitality. St Stephen's Day, the day after Christmas, is almost as important, with football matches and meetings going on. For children, the Wren Boys Procession is their big event. Boys go from door to door with a fake wren on a stick, singing, with violins, accordions, harmonicas and horns to accompany them. The reason for the ceremony is to ask for money 'for the starving wren', that is, for their own pockets. Children often put out Christmas sacks instead of stockings. It is tradition to leave mince pies and a bottle of Guinness out as a snack for Santa. Christmas in Philippines The only Asian nation in which Christianity is the religion chosen by the people. Christmas celebrations start nine days before Christmas with a mass known as Misa de Gallo. At this mass the story behind the birth of Christ is read from the Bible. The Panunuluyan pageant is held each Eve. A couple is chosen to re-enact Joseph and Mary's search for shelter. Mass is held hourly on Christmas Day so that everyone can attend. Religious services include pastore, or play, based on myth of the birth of the Christ Child. The pastore closes with a star from the upper part of the church sliding down a wire and coming to rest over the church's Nativity scene. Christmas celebrations may have evolved from old tribal customs mixed with other influences. Serenading cumbancheros, or strolling minstrels, end their performances by singing Maligayang Pasko to the tune of "Happy Birthday". Carolyn Mathews, Texas As part of my people's traditions, the children also go around their neighborhood and sing carols to each household. Sometimes, they get money, sometimes they get fed. The money they get, they use to buy gifts for themselves or loved ones. We also have the unique tradition of making 3-D "parols" or star lanterns made from thin strips of bamboo and covered in colored thin plastic film to symbolize the guiding star that the three wise men followed to find Jesus Christ; it is also the Filipinos' way of inviting the spirit of Christ into their home- it is to mentally reverse the notion of "no room at the inn". The star symbolize the willingness of each home to "house" the baby Jesus. Also, most Filipino grandparents gather their grandchildren on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, after church and they toss coins in the middle as extra gifts and wishes of prosperity for the new year. In more affluent households, it is traditional to serve all kinds of food as a form of Thanksgiving to all that Jesus Christ embodied with the traditional lechon or roast suckling pig and pansit (noodles) as centerpieces. Christmas time is also the best time to enjoy all kinds of fireworks. We also have the noche buena or the meal served at midnight. Traditionally, it is for after the family comes back from the midnight mass. Christmas in Ukraine Sviata Vechera OR "Holy Supper" is the central tradition of the beautiful Christmas Eve celebrations in Ukrainian homes. The dinner table sometimes has a few wisps of hay on the embroidered table cloth as a reminder of the manger in Bethlehem. When the children see the first Star in the eastern evening sky, which symbolizes the trek of the Three Wise Men, the Sviata Vechera may begin. In farming communities the head of the household now brings in a sheaf of wheat called the didukh which represents the importance of the ancient and rich wheat crops of Ukraine, the staff of life through the centuries. Didukh means literally "grandfather spirit" so it symbolizes the family's ancestors. In city homes a few stalks of golden wheat in a vase are often used to decorate the table. A prayer is said and the father says the traditional Christmas greeting, "Khristos rodyvsya!" which translated is Christ is born!, which is answered by the family with "Slavite Yoho!" which translated is Let Us Glorify Him!. In some families the Old Slavic form Khristos razhdayetsya is used. At the end of the Sviata Vechera the family often sings Kolyadky which is a Ukrainian Christmas Carols. In many communities the old Ukrainian tradition of caroling is carried on by groups of young people and members of organizations and churches calling at homes and collecting donations. The favorite Ukrainian carol is Boh predvichny meaning God Eternal which has a very beautiful melody and lyrics. Some Ukrainian carols are unusual because they mention Ukraine while others are ancient pagan songs of a thousand years ago which have been converted into Christian carols. Christmas is a joyous day which opens for Ukrainian families with attendance at Church. Ukrainian Churches offer services starting before midnight on Christmas Eve and on Christmas morning. Christmas supper, without Lenten restrictions, does not have as many traditions connected with it as Sviata Vechera. The old tradition in Ukraine of giving gifts to children on St. Nicholas Day, December 19th, has generally been replaced by the Christmas date. The traditional Christmas customs of Ukraine add color and significance to the winter festival of Christmas, and Ukrainian Christmas on January 7th is usually a peaceful and quiet event. This celebration reminds us of the baby in a Bethlehem manger whose birthday we celebrate. But whether Christmas is celebrated on December 25th or on January 7th the message is the same: "Peace on Earth! Good will towards men! In the Ukraine, Father Frost visits all the children in a sleigh pulled by only three reindeer. He brings along a little girl named Snowflake Girl. She wears a silver blue costume trimmed with white fur and a crown shaped like a snowflake. Christmas in Poland Traditionally, Advent is an important season in the Polish year, with special church services, known as Roraty, being held every morning at 6am. The four Sundays of Advent are said to represent the 4,000 years of waiting for Christ. During Advent and, in some homes, on Christmas Eve, bees wax or plain wax is poured on water, and fortunes are told from the shapes which emerge. Special tasks carried out during Advent are the baking of the Christmas piernik or honey cake, and the making of Christmas decorations. Pierniki are made in a great variety of shapes, including hearts, animals and St Nicholas figures. Traditional decorations include the pajaki, which are handmade mobiles, stars and decorated egg shells. Pajaki are traditional decorations, rather lots of bomb lets, colorful paper chains and lots of electric lights. Beautifully lit Christmas trees are placed in all public arenas, outside churches and in homes. Traditionally the trees are decorated with shiny apples, gift walnuts, beautifully wrapped chocolate shapes and many homemade decorations and candles. On the top of the tree is a star or a glittering top piece. In many homes, sparklers are hung on the branches of the trees giving it a magical air. Sometimes the trees are left standing until February 2nd, the feast day of St Mary of the Candle of Lightning. During Advent, the Gwiadorze or star carriers or carol singers, used to begin wandering through the towns and villages and this would continue until Epiphany. Some of the Gwiadorze sang carols, others recited verses or put on Szopke or puppet show, or herody or nativity scenes. The last two customs are developments from traditional manger scenes or Jaselka or crib. Christmas Eve, Wigilia, is an important part of the Polish Christmas, in fact, the most important rituals are celebrated on this day. A traditional food found in Poland is Oplatek which is a piece of bread pressed with a holy picture on the surface. Oplatek is more symbolic than real food. We celebrate with at least 12 different vegetarian dishes like: mushroom soup, carp, cabbage with pea, stuffed dumplings, and shells macaroni with poppy "makielki". In some homes - some hay is put under the tablecloth (it is connected with Christ's manger). People once carried these oplatek from house to house and wish their neighbors a Merry Christmas. Nowadays, the bread is mostly shared with members of the family and immediate neighbors. As each person shares the bread, they would have to do two things: forgive any hurts that have occurred over the past year and to wish the person all the happiness in the coming year. Christmas in France On Christmas Eve, children leave their shoes by the fireplace to be filled with gifts from Pere Noel. In the morning they also find that sweets, fruit, nuts and small toys have been hung on the tree. In cathedral squares, the story of Christ's birth is re-enacted by both players and puppets. Nearly every French home at Christmastime displays a Nativity scene or crèche, which serves as the focus for the Christmas celebration. The crèche is often peopled with little clay figures called santons or "little saints." In addition to the usual Holy Family, shepherds, and Magi, the craftsmen also produce figures in the form of local dignitaries and characters. The craftsmanship involved in creating the gaily colored santons is quite astounding and the molds have been passed from generation to generation since the seventeenth century. Throughout December the figures are sold at annual Christmas fairs in Marseille and Aix. The Christmas tree has never been particularly popular in France, and though the use of the Yule log has faded, the French make a traditional Yule log-shaped cake called the buche de Nol, which means "Christmas Log." The cake, among other food in great abundance is served at the grand feast of the season, which is called le reveillon. Le reveillon is a very late supper held after midnight mass on Christmas Eve. The menu for the meal varies according to regional culinary tradition. In Alsace, goose is the main course, in Burgundy it is turkey with chestnuts, and the Parisians feast upon oysters and pat de foie gras. Le Revellion may consist of poultry, ham, salads, cake, fruit and wine. In Southern France, a log is burned in people's homes from Christmas Eve until New Years Day. A long time ago, part of the log was used to make the wedge for the plough as good luck for the coming harvest. The traditional Christmas is a chocolate log. In France families once had a Three Kings Cake with a bean hidden in it. Whoever found the bean in their slice was made King, or Queen, for the day. In France the children go out to look for the Kings, taking gifts of hay for the camels. Another name for this day is Twelfth Day. It is the last of the Twelve Days of Christmas, which used to be one long holiday. It was the last night of the Feast of Fools before the Lord of Misrule had to give up his crown and become themselves once again. In France it is a time for the whole family to come together at Christmas time to holiday and worship. On the eve of Christmas beautifully lit churches and cathedrals, ring out Christmas carols with the church bells. Once dinner is over and the family has retired to bed, they leave a fire burning and food and drink on the table in case the Virgin Mary calls in. Children leave their shoes or wooden clogs called sabots in the hearth for the Christ Child or Pere Noel to fill. In the north of France, children are given gifts on December 6, which is St. Nicholas' Day, instead of Christmas Day. The adults give each others presents on New Year's Day. French children set out their shoes in hopes that le petit Jesus will fill them during the night with small gifts. Christmas in Germany Christmas preparations often begin on the eve of December 6th. People often set aside special evenings for baking spiced cakes and cookies, and making gifts and decorations. Little dolls of fruit are traditional Christmas toys. Children leave letters on their windowsills for Christkind, a winged figure dressed in white robes and a golden crown who distributes gifts. Sometimes the letters are decorated with glue and sprinkled with sugar to make them sparkle. Germans make beautiful gingerbread houses and cookies. The German Christmas tree pastry, Christbaumgeback, is a white dough that can be molded into shapes and baked for tree decorations. In parts of Germany, people believe that the Christ Child sends a messenger in Christmas Eve. He appears as an angel in a white robe and crown, bearing gifts. The angel is called Christkind. There is also a Christmas Eve figure called Weihnachtsmann or Christmas Man, he looks like Santa Claus and also brings gifts. Some homes in Germany have several Christmas trees, and in all towns across Germany, they can be seen glittering and glowing. In Germany they hang up advent wreaths of Holly with four red candles in the center. They light one candle each Sunday and last on Christmas Eve. Children count the days until Christmas using an Advent calendar. They open one window each day and find a Christmas picture inside. In Germany the traditional visitor is the Christkindl who is the Christ Child's messenger. She is a beautiful fair-haired girl with a shining crown of candles who visits each house with a basket of presents. In some homes a room is locked up before Christmas. On Christmas Eve the children go to bed but are woken up at midnight by their parents and taken down to the locked room. The door is opened and they see the tree all lit up, with piles of parcels on little tables. In Germany boys dress up as kings and carry a star round the village, singing carols. The German Christmas traditions are not quite like that. 1. Christmas preparations start before Dec. 1st, 2. December 6 is Nikolaustag, St. Claus day, you leave out a shoe or boot outside the door Dec.5 and the next morning you find presents (if you were a good kid) or a rod (if you were bad) 3. The Adventskranz (advent wreath) is not hung up but placed on a table lying flat, how could you light the candles otherwise... 4. catholic boys and girls dress up as kings for three kings day (jan. 6) they sing carols and collect money for donations to different projects that"s just a couple of things... Christmas in Netherlands In the Netherlands the Dutch eagerly await December 5th for it is on this day that they celebrate the coming of Sinterklaas Avond or St. Nicholas eve, whose legends of generosity and kindness are well known. On December 6th they celebrate with family doings, after which everyone settles down to prepare for Christmas Day on December 25th and secondly for December 26th or New Year and Three Kings Day on January 6th. Each has its on celebration. In the Netherlands St. Nicholas is known as Sinterklaas. Dutch children are told that he sails from Spain on his feast day, December 5. They fill their shoes with hay and sugar for his horse and awake to find them filled with gifts such as nuts and candy. Sometimes Sinterklaas appears in person in the children's homes, bearing a striking resemblance to the children's father or an uncle. He questions the children about their behavior during the past year. In the past he carried a birch rod, but these days he is more kindly. The people of Twente in east Holland hold a special Advent ceremony in which special horns are blown to chase away evil spirits and to announce the birth of Christ. Horns are homemade out of one-year-old saplings and are three or four feet long. Blown over wells, they sound a deep tone, similar to a foghorn. Christmas in Romania Carols form an important part of the Romanian folklore. Romanian carols are not simple songs (a sort of invocation in verse sung by children and lads, on the evening of Winters Holidays) with religions origin, but wide windows through which we are allowed once in a year to go by the immaculate snow-towards the evergreen Heaven and to eye-touch God at least for an instant , in order to give us the power to surpass the life's obstacles. Carols put people in the mood for a perfect communion with the simple and healing greatness of Jesus' Birth. The carol singers walk in the streets of the villages and towns holding in their hands a star made of board and paper with biblical scenes painted in water colors and they sing: "Do you receive the pretty star, Pretty and so very bright? It Haseko we did in the sky Just like God thought it would be right, Stand it could be seen on high, Just like we did in the sky" On the first Christmas day, children walk in the streets of snow covered towns and villages, when holding in their hands a star made of board and paper with a biblical scenes painted in water colors or an icon showing Virgin Mary and baby Jesus, they sing somewhat of a question: "Do you receive the pretty star, Pretty and so bright? It has appeared on the earth Just like God through it would be right And it could be seen on high, Just like we did, in the sky. Five days before Christmas with a very sharp knife the pig is cut. This custom is called "Ignatius" from Saint Ignatius (celebrated on December the 20th). Straws are put in his snout and then it is covered with burning straws and then is it singed. The pig is nicely washed and covered with a piece of cloth for ten minutes. The housewife comes and incense the pig and then the husband comes and makes the sign of the cross on the pig's head saying to the family gathered around: "Let's eat the pig!" After the pig is cut there is a feast called the pig's funeral feast or alms. At the feast the whole family friends and neighbors take part. All eat the rid or the skin of the bacon and they also eat small pieces of fried pork they drink wine or plum brandy. Christmas in Yugoslavia (THIS INFORMATION WAS SENT MANY MANY YEARS AGO TO ME AND I HAVE SEEN IN MANY MANY MANY BOOKS ON CHRISTMAS AROUND THE WORLD AS WHAT WAS ONCE TRADITION AND NOW MAY HAVE BEEN LOST.) In Yugoslavia, children celebrate the second Sunday before Christmas as Mother's Day. The children creep in and tie her feet to a chair and shout, "Mother's Day, Mother's Day, what will you pay to get away?" She then gives them presents. Children play the same trick on their father the week after. Those Yugoslavs who live in the country fear bad luck if their Christmas log burns out and so someone has to stand over the log all Christmas night to ensure it stays lit up. A Christmas cake called chestnitsa, contains a gold or silver coin and is said that whomever gets it can expect lots of good luck. The Yugoslavs eat roast pig as their Christmas dish and it must be carved a particular way, according to old customs. Every household has a Christmas crib. According to old customs they go on an expedition to the forests to gather moss with which to line the crib. Also families would have an old-fashioned music box that plays Christmas carols. Christmas in Sweden Christmas begins in Sweden with the Saint Lucia ceremony. Before dawn on the morning of 13 December, the youngest daughter from each family puts on a white robe with a red sash. She wears a crown of evergreens with tall-lighted candles attached to it. She wakes her parents, and serves them with coffee and Lucia buns. The other children accompany her. The boys dressed as star boys in long white shirts and pointed hats. The custom goes back to Lucia, a Christian virgin martyred for her beliefs at Syracuse in the fourth century. The Saint Lucia ceremony is fairly recent, but it represents the traditional thanksgiving for the return of the sun. Often she is followed by star boys, who wear pointed hats, and carry star wands. Candle-lit processions to Church feature Scandinavian Christmases, where, in the home, it is mother who always lights the candles on Christmas Eve. Christmas trees are usually found in Swedish homes two days before Christmas. Decoration may include candles, apples, Swedish flags, small gnomes wearing red tasseled caps, straw ornaments. The houses may filled with red tulips and smell like pepparkakor, which is a heart-star, or goat-shaped gingerbread biscuit. Swedish Julafton, or Christmas Eve dinner may be a smorgasbord, or buffet with julskinka, or Christmas ham, pickled pigs feet,lutfisk, or dried codfish, and many different kinds of sweets. Risgryngrot a special rice porridge, has hidden in it an almond which as tradition has it the person who finds the almond in his or her bowl will marry in the coming year. Christmas trees are usually brought into Swedish homes one or two days before Christmas. Decorations include: candles, apples, Swedish flags, small gnomes and tasseled caps, and straw ornaments. The house may be filled with red tulips and the smell of pepparkakor - a heart-star, or goat-shaped gingerbread biscuits. After Christmas Eve dinner, a friend or family member dresses up as tomte or Christmas gnome. The tomte, unlike Santa Claus is supposed to live under the floorboards of the house or barn and ride a straw goat. The make-believe tomte, wearing a white beard and dressed in red robes, distributes gifts from his sack. Many are given with funny rhyme that hints at the contents. Swedes eat lye-treated codfish and welcome the Christmas elves and the julbok which is the Christmas goat, who is responsible for the distributing of the presents. In Sweden Jultomten, a little brownie helps Santa Claus give gifts to the children who have been good. On Christmas morning, churches are lit up entirely by candles for the Christmas service. The Julbock (Christmas Goat) has nothing to do with the Tomte (Santa Claus)... He doesn't ride it. When Sweden was changing from goat to Santa they came together but that was more than 20 years ago. So it use to but no longer. And it was originally to honor the goats that Tor (an old God) used to pull his carriage. Today basically no one knows why we have them. Sadly and the Tomte doesn't live under a barn anymore. Now it is like in America, he lives at the North Pole. In the old days the tomte took care of the farm and lived there but then he had nothing to do with Christmas (then it was the goat). He was mean and hard to work with but he made sure there would be food on the table and looked after all the animals, IF the people on the farm took care of him and behaved well. No Christmas. Balls of Glass are in our trees as well as Tinsels now but most of all: You've forgotten about the most Christmassy in Sweden Donald duck at TV at 15.00 on Christmas Eve. Has been shown on TV since 1960-somethink. At Christmas dinner, a plum pudding is served with little treasures hidden inside that bring their finders good luck. Britain was the first country to hang up mistletoe. Christmas in Greece St. Nicholas is important in Greece as the patron saint of sailors. According to Greek tradition, his clothes are drenched with brine, his beard drips with seawater, and his face is covered with perspiration because he has been working hard against the waves to reach sinking ships and rescue them from the angry sea. Greek ships never leave port without some sort of St. Nicholas icon on board. On Christmas Eve small boys to the beating of drums and the tinkling of triangles usually sing carols. They go from house to house and are given dried figs, almonds, walnuts and lots of sweets or sometimes small gifts. After 40 days of fasting, the Christmas feast is looked forward to with great anticipation by adults and children alike. Pigs are slaughtered and on almost every table are loaves of christopsomo or "Christ Bread". This bread is made in large sweet loaves of various shapes and the crusts are engraved and decorated in some way that reflects the family's profession. Christmas trees are not commonly used in Greece. In almost every home the main symbol of the season is a shallow wooden bowl with a piece of wire is suspended across the rim; from that hangs a sprig of basil wrapped around a wooden cross. A small amount of water is kept in the bowl to keep the basil alive and fresh. Once a day, a family member, usually the mother, dips the cross and basil into some holy water and uses it to sprinkle water in each room of the house. This ritual is believed to keep the Killantzaroi away from the house. There is a tradition kallikantzeri, where the mischievous goblins appear from the earth during the 12 days of Christmas. At Christmas very few presents are given to each other. Instead, small gifts are given to hospitals and orphanages. Priests sometimes go from house to house sprinkling holy water around to get rid of the bad spirits who may be hiding in people's houses. In most Greek homes an evergreen tree is decorated with tinsel and a star placed on top. Gifts are exchanged on January 1st, St Basil's Day. On Christmas Eve, groups of people gather around the holiday table. Figs, dried on rooftops are served with the spicy golden Chrisopsomo bread. As people are they greet one another by saying Hronia polla or many happy years. The table filled with food may include such dishes as kourambiethes, a Greek nut cookie. Christmas in England The English enjoy beautiful Christmas music. They love to decorate Christmas Trees and hang up evergreen branches. One England's customs is mummering. In the Middle Ages, people called mummers put on masks and acted out Christmas plays. These plays are still performed in towns and villages. The English gift giver is called Father Christmas. He wears a long red or green robe, and leaves presents in stockings on Christmas Eve. However, the gifts are not usually opened until the following afternoon. Christmas in England began in AD 596, when St Augustine landed on her shores with monks who wanted to bring Christianity to the Anglo Saxons. Father Christmas delivers them during the night before Christmas. The Children leave an empty stocking or pillowcase hanging at the end of the bed. In the morning they hope it will be full of presents. In England the day after Christmas is called Boxing Day because boys used to go round collecting money in clay boxes. When the boxes were full, they broke them open. In England Christmas dinner was usually eaten at Midday on December 25, during daylight. In England, the only thing that people ate on the day before the feast was Frumenty, which is, was a kind of porridge made from corn. Over the years the recipe changed. Eggs, fruit, spice, lumps of meat and dried plums were added. The whole mixture was wrapped in a cloth and boiled. This is how plum pudding began. In England 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. In England also they elect Boy Bishops in commemoration of St. Nicholas compassion for children. These mock bishops were allowed to do the duties of the ecclesiastic except deliver the Mass. One point I would like to raise is on how Christmas is celebrated in England. As an English family living in rural England we have the pleasure of a traditional English Christmas with all the trimmings each year. You mention the Christmas trees and evergreen branches the christmas trees are a tradition we adopted from Germany during Victoria's reign and the branches are mistletoe and holly for symbolic reasons. As Christmas is a religious festival many people here still attend midnight mass on Christmas eve and this is usually seen as the start of festivities. Again the reason presents are not opened until afternoon is that we wait until after morning service / morning mass. Your description of the gluttonous amounts consumed by the average person at Christmas dinner is very sparse, typically there are 2 roasted meats 1 being either goose (traditional) or turkey (american) covered in bacon and stuffed with sausagemeat, the other meat being a gammon. A variety of seasonal vegetables but essential are roast potatoes and brussel sprouts and always kilted sausages (also called sausages in blankets). For dessert Christmas pudding with brandy butter or brandy custard / cream, the pudding is so rich in alcohol that it is usually ignited before serving. Mince pies not only contain dried fruit but also suet and brandy. Christmas cake is also eaten and is traditionally made a couple of months (end of September) before Christmas and matured by regularly feeding it brandy. Incidentally boxing day derives its name from the practice of opening the alms boxes in church and distributing the money collected amongst the poor in the parish. Christmas in Greenland In Greenland there is a lot of visiting of families, drinking coffee and eating cakes, as well as giving of brightly wrapped presents which might consist of a model sledge, a pair of tusks, or even a sealskin mitt. Everyone in the village gets a gift and children go from hut to hut, singing songs. Christmas trees are imported and decorated with candles as well as bright ornaments. There is dancing most of the night. After the coffee, cakes and carols everyone is given Mattak which is whale skin with a strip of blubber inside is given to everyone. The taste of it is much like coconut, but is tough to chew and is usually just swallowed. Another food that is eaten is Kiviak which consists of raw flesh of an auk which has been buried whole in sealskin for several months until they have reached an advanced stage of decomposition. This is the one night of which the women are waited on by the men. There are games played including one in which an object is passed from hand to hand round a long table under the cloth. Christmas in Brazil Brazilians are a mix of different ethnic people, and as a former Portuguese colony, they have many Christmas customs which originate from this heritage. One tradition is to create a nativity scene or Presépio. The word originates from the Hebrew word "presepium" which means the bed of straw upon which Jesus first slept in Bethlehem. The Presépio is common in northeastern Brazil. Nowadays presépios are set up in December and displayed in churches, homes, and stores. Papai Noel or Father Noel is the gift-bringer in Brazil. According to legend, he lives in Greenland. When he arrives in Brazil, he usually wears silk clothing due to the summer heat. A huge Christmas dinner includes turkey, ham, colored rice, and wonderful vegetables and fruit dishes. Devout Catholics often attend Midnight Mass or Missa do Galo. The mass has this name because the rooster announces the coming day and the Missa do Galo finishes at 1 AM on Christmas morning! On December 25th, Catholics go to church, but the masses are mostly late afternoon, because people enjoy sleeping late after the dinner called Ceia de Natal or going to the beach. Decorations include fresh flowers picked from the garden. Fireworks go off in the skies over the cites and huge Christmas "trees" of electric lights can be seen against the night skies in major cities such as Brasilia, San Paolo, and Rio de Janeiro. In Brazil there is folk dancing and singing and the festivities go on until January 6th, which the Brazilians refer to as Three Kings Day. January 6th is supposed to be the day when three wise men visited Jesus to bring him gifts. Christmas in Turkey IN TURKEY IT IS FORBIDDEN TO PRACTICE CHRISTIANITY BUT THERE IS ONE SMALL TOWN AS LISTED BELOW WHO DOES STILL CELEBRATE. In the Turkish town of Demre, Santa Claus or St Nicholas birth is celebrated every year during the three-day festival held in early December. Born in the nearby town of Patara, St Nicholas is remembered not only as a famous Turkish archbishop, but also for his kindness to children. - from Seray Savaskan *****Please note that I have received many different opinions on this so I will inlcude all comments from these people above or below.****** I write you this email from Turkey-Istanbul. I work as a professional Tour guide.I have been to Patara and Myra where st.Nicholas was born and lived. These towns are in Turkey and I dýd not see in your web smt related with Turkey.You have mentioned about russia,greece and russia but only ASIA MINOR??? I would appreciate more if you have written These towns are today in Turkish Republic. - from Hakan Kutlu First of all, Turkey is a [supposedly] secular country, and therefore, Christmas, a religious holiday is not tolerated. Second of all, there can be no such entity as an Archbishop of Turkey, as your text indicates. An Archbishop is a Christian term, and Christianity is NOT allowed in the country. Third and most important of all, is that during his lifetime, expecially at the time of his birth, Nicholas was born in Myra, or the Lycia region of Anatolia. The traditional name of the city was changed to whatever the modern Turks chose, as part of their ethnic cleansing in their larger program, after 1922, of their ongoing attempt to purge the remnant of the Ottoman Empire, of all Christians. This period of BLACK history known as the Armenian Genocide. The ottomans' need to change the names of cities was necessary to erase their guilt at having attempted to exterminate an entire race of people, namely the Armenians, but also Greeks and Bulgarians, and other Christians. Therefore your name of the very historically important city is erroneous. Nevertheless, Nicholas, was Bishop, not Archbishop of Myra, in the 4th century, before any such thing as a Turk was even conceived of. on the website is VERY incorrect ... It is NOT ILLEGAL to practice Christianity in TURKEY ... Christmas in Syria In Syria on December 6, a special Mass is held in churches in honor of Saint Nicholas Thaumaturgus, who legend has said was a kind and generous man not dissimilar to Saint Nicholas after who Santa Claus is modelled. On Christmas Eve everyone in the family, carries a lit candle, to stand around an unlit bonfire outside their house. The youngest child usually the son of the family reads the Christmas story, after which the bonfire is lit. The way the flames spread shows the luck of the house in the coming year. When the fire burns, psalms are sung, and when it sinks, everyone leaps over the embers making wishes. Early on Christmas morning everyone goes to Mass. At this Mass another bonfire is lit in the middle of the floor. While the wood is blazing, ancient hymns are sung and the celebrant carries a figure of the Christ Child around the building. After this the celebrant then touches the nearest person in a "touch of peace". This touch is passed from one to another until everyone has received it. Christmas dinner is chicken, oranges, nuts and pastries. But it is on New Year's Day that children receive presents. They are brought their gifts by the youngest of the camels that carried the Three Wise Men to Bethlehem. The children leave water and hay outside the house of the camel. In the morning the water and hay are gone, replaced by presents. Christmas in the Holy Land Christmas in the Holy Land where Christ is believed to have been born is often full of travelers come to celebrate Christmas. Here in a grotto there is a 14-pointed Silver Star on the floor is where the birthplace is supposed to have been. There are three Christmas Eves in the Holy Land. One on the 24th December celebrated by the Protestant and Catholic Churches. The second for the Greek Orthodox, Coptic (Egyptian) and Syrian churches. The third is the Armenian Church. At times, all three services are going on at the same time, but, in different parts of the church, as well as in different languages. For lunch they eat turkey, spiced with pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg and stuffed with rice, meat,, pine nuts and almonds. Early in the evening, members of the Protestant church groups would go around singing carols. On Christmas morning children would open their presents before breakfast. After breakfast Protestant people would go to church, and visit friends to wish them a happy Christmas. The Catholic Church priests would come a bless water from which all members of the family would take a sip. The member of the Greek Orthodox Church Epiphany is very important. They have a special church service at which a cross was dipped into water to bless it. People would take the water home with them drink three sips before eating anything.
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