Holiday Traditions Around The World
|December 28, 2011||Filled under Holidays, Life in General|
With Christmas just behind us, and New Year’s Eve just ahead, we thought it would be an appropriate time to talk about Christmas traditions! Now, everybody has their own beliefs and feelings about this time of year and specifically the holiday of Christmas, and we respect that. However, the most popular one, or perhaps well-known, if that of Christmas. In North America anyway.
So, to honor some traditions from around the world, we thought we’d write a few down here. In Sweden the traditions begin with the feast of St. Lucia. ”The feast of St. Lucia, on December 13, is the beginning of Sweden’s Christmas season. The festival celebrates the patron saint of light, during the darkest month in Scandinavia. Young children attire themselves in white and each town picks a girl to represent Saint Lucia (or Saint Lucy). During the public procession and the service that follows, the elected Lucia wears a crown of candles and leads proceedings.
Candle light continues to play an important role during Christmas. Candle-lit windows are a common scene in the smaller sleepy hamlets of Sweden and the Christmas Mass is traditionally begun with a candle procession to church. On Christmas eve the gnome Jultomten and his steed, the Yule goat Julbock (see left), bring gifts to children. These Swedish folk figures are slowly losing ground to Santa Claus, but still retain some of their old charm. A popular Swedish custom for singles is supping on Risgrynsgrot (rice pudding). Finding an almond in your pudding is akin to catching the bouquet.”
In Germany “Christmas Eve is the most important time of the Christmas season for families. Some even say it is a magical night when animals can speak. The wonderful tradition of the Christmas tree, which started in Germany, is the heart of the celebration. Grown-ups decorate the evergreen tree with beautiful ornaments of colored glass and carved wood, silver stars, and strings of lights. A golden angel is placed at the very top of the tree.
Under the Christmas tree, the family arranges a manger scene to depict the stable that Jesus was born in. Parents may also pile presents from the Christ Child beneath the Christmas tree’s richly decorated boughs. Just after dark, a bell rings, and the excited children run into the room to see the beautiful lighted tree in all its glory. The family members exchange gifts, recite poems, and sing Christmas carols. “Silent Night, Holy Night” is an old German favorite. Then everyone enjoys a Christmas feast of roast goose, turkey, or duck.
In some parts of Germany, families still follow an old tradition. The children leave their shoes outside the front door. These shoes are filled with carrots and hay to feed St. Nicholas’ horse as he rides by. If the children were good all year, St. Nicholas leaves apples, nuts, and candy for them.
On Christmas Day the white candle of the Advent wreath is lit. This day is quietly focused on family. They attend church together, and then they eat a delicious Christmas dinner together.
But for the following Twelve Days of Christmas, people in some parts of Germany beat drums to drive off spirits. On Twelfth Night, or Epiphany, on January 6, boys dress up like the Three Kings who visited Baby Jesus in the manger so long ago. They carry a star on a pole and go through the town singing Christmas carols. Then the family puts away its Christmas decorations for another year, until December comes around again.”
In England, “The day after Christmas is called Boxing Day. This day has nothing to do with fighting. Long ago, people filled church alms boxes with donations for the poor. Then on December 26, the boxes were distributed. Now people often use this day to give small gifts of money to the mail carrier, news vendor, and others who have helped them during the year.
Beginning on Boxing Day, families can enjoy stage performances called pantomimes. This activity originally meant a play without words, or actors who mimed or entertained without speaking. Pantomime now refers to all kinds of plays performed during the Christmas season. Such familiar children’s stories as “Cinderella” and “Peter Pan” delight young and old alike. In some towns, masked and costumed performers called mummers present plays or sing carols in the streets.”
These are just a handful of the many MANY traditions that are held at this time of year! We hope that, whatever you did, and however you celebrated, that you enjoyed your time with family and friends and that you were able to enjoy it and be grateful for all the good things in your life!
We at Super-Fun Trampolines are grateful for you, our friends fans and readers every day! We want to wish you ALL the best for a healthy, happy and prosperous New Year!
Remember, stay safe and have fun!