Christmas Traditions which Cheer
Christmas is that one celebration that brings together the whole world with its spread of joy, hope, cheer and festivities. The world becomes a brighter place and everyone enters a happier state of mind. Infact, traveling around during Christmas time is one of our favorite activities. Strolling out in brightly lit avenues, passing by the gorgeous Christmas decorations, listening to delightful Christmas carols, smiling away at the cheerful Santas, gawking at splendidly ornamented Christmas trees – honestly, can it get any better?
Christmas-time gets enhanced by the heartwarming traditions that surround this festival. Since the celebration is so universal, you may be forgiven if you think that it is celebrated similarly throughout the world. Well, you may not be farther from the truth. The traditions have evolved to become as diverse as the countries on this planet. After all, isn’t that what makes the world interesting?
Let take through a journey around Western Europe and a bit of Northern Europe. Learn about the interesting, the bizarre, the inspiring customs and traditions and their origins!
Say ‘Hyvää Joulua’ in Finland!
Christmas in Finland is truly the quintessential way to celebrate this festive time! How many of you know that Finland is the home of Santa Claus? Or considered to be, atleast? Add on white landscapes, starry nights, dark skies, ice-lanterns, candy treats, mulled wine and time with the friends & family. The Perfect Setting for Christmas! For Christmas lunch, the traditional meal is a porridge containing a hidden almond. The person who gets the almond will remain lucky through the forthcoming year. Oh, and at the end of the day, they all relax in a wooden sauna to relax their body and soul!
Say ‘Froehliche Weihnachten’ in Germany!
Christmas in Germany is mostly about rituals, Christmas markets, Gingerbread (Lebkuchen) and potato salads! Here’s a fact you may not have known. The tradition of decorating Christmas Trees with colorful baubles originated from Germany! Infact, the famous author, Goethe, made it popular by including a Christmas tree is his novel, The Suffering of Young Werther, after a visit to Strasbourg. While the German Christmas meal is roast goose with potato dumplings and red cabbage, it is customary for them to include a potato salad with sausages as a part of the meal. Germany is also home to some of the world’s largest and most famous Christmas markets. These include the markets at Nuremberg, Dresden, Munich among other places.
Say ‘Felize Navidad’ in Spain!
Christmas in Spain is a very special and magical time. It is a time filled with family gatherings, celebrations, joy, and heartwarming holiday traditions. Most Spanish families create elaborate nativity scenes with the now mandatory Christmas tree. Villancicos, the Spanish Christmas carols, are hugely popular here. Children generally go around their neighborhoods singing these melodies, during Christmastime. In the south of Spain, flamenco is also a part in the rhythm.
Christmas Eve includes a hearty, and long dinner with the family. At the end of the dinner, exclusive Christmas treats such as turrón, marzipan, polvorones are served. These sweets are completed with a delicious glass of Cava. Cava is the sparkling wine akin to Champagne produced in Catalonia. Now, for the most celebrated of the Spanish Christmas customs – La Loteria de Navidad (the Spanish Lottery). The whole of Spain takes part in this lottery. People from all over the country look out to see who wins the El Gordo, the name given to the largest prize of the lottery and literally meaning “the fat one”!
Say ‘Joyeux Noël’ in France!
Christmas is called Noël in France. Most french towns and cities have ‘un marché de Noël’ (Christmas market) which are in small wooden chalet-like structure. These markets sell local arts and crafts, special Christmas foods such as le pain d’épice (gingerbread), regional delicacies, handmade artefacts and decorations. Santa Claus in France is ‘Papa Noël’. The French have even named their main meal at Christmas – Le Réveillon! The expansive spread includes seasonal favorites such as oysters with mignonette sauce, snails, foie gras, candied chestnuts and capon, a cockerel. This ends with the dessert – Bûche de Noël – a chocolate sponge cake shaped to resemble a yule log. This traditional dessert is in honor of the French tradition of burning a yule log during the festive period.
Say Italy: ‘Buon Natale’ in Italy!
Christmas in Italy is ‘Natale’ – a very family oriented holiday with some of the most special traditions and unique rituals. It lasts almost a month. Italians celebrate over many weeks, from the beginning of December to the first week of January. The main piazzas are all decorated with exquisite decorations and huge Christmas Trees. Post dinner, many Italians head to midnight Mass at their local church to celebrate. Ofcourse, Romans head directly to Vatican for Mass with the Pope. Italians also set up the Presepe (Nativity scene). This consists of small, ornately carved figurines, generally made in the region of Naples. The scenes represent the birth of Jesus. The tradition has evolved to show current celebrities and politicians as well as figurines.So, where would you like to go for Christmas?
So, where would you like to go for Christmas?