The Christmas holiday is marked in the world by special and different traditions depending on the particularity of each community or nation. Starting from the religious significance of the moment, the birth of Jesus, in the modern world are preserved both ancient customs and variants more adapted to the present. In most houses, however, you can find Christmas trees or ornaments, rich meals and gifts. Here are some Christmas traditions from all around the world:
In Norway, the country where people hide their Christmas brooms, you will find one of the most unorthodox traditions on Christmas Eve. It is an old tradition when people believed that witches and evil spirits go out on Christmas Eve and look for brooms to fly with. Even today, people hide their brooms in the safest place in the house so that they cannot be stolen.
Since the first Sunday of Advent, Christmas fairs have invaded city markets, which last throughout the holiday season. The Advent wreath, contains green branches that celebrate nature and either four candles, which will be lit successively every Sunday of Advent. Or 24 bags of sweets and goodies that will be tasted daily in the family.
Christmas Eve is the most important holiday, when the family gathers for dinner and to go to church together at the Christmas Eve Mass. Gifts are offered on the 25th or in the evening of the 24th of December, but not “for Santa Claus”, but “for Christ-Kind”. In some families it is customary to sing carols at Christmas, but for most Germans Christmas – “Weihnachten” (“solemn night”), is a time of deep reflection and analysis.
Both Christmas and New Year are extremely rich holidays in traditions and superstitions, but also in traditional dishes. Christmas bread, for example, is marked with the shape of the hand by pressing the dough with the palm of the hand before baking. This symbolizes the fact that Jesus blessed the bread on the holy day of Christmas. Bakeries also prepare oval pies, which are given for Christmas. Among the traditional sweets we find “Melomakaronas” – a pie syruped with honey – and “Kourabiedes” – a pie covered with sugar flakes.
Santa Claus is symbolized by Saint Basil, the philanthropist of Asia Minor, who distributes gifts and sweets to children. But since there is no custom of the decorated Christmas tree, the gifts are left on the table.
The Americans decorate their houses with light garlands and the children hang some special socks from the fireplace. In them, they receive the gifts from Santa Claus. He comes through the sky with the sleigh pulled by nine reindeer and descends through the chimney.
In general, Americans eat beef steak, and appetizers necessarily contain smoked salmon, prepared in different ways. Interestingly, the White House serves “Presidential Cake,” made from a two-century-old recipe from Abraham Lincoln’s time — a unique tradition in the world.
In the western part of America, the traditional “eggnog” drink is served, prepared from brandy, rum, eggs and milk.
Bethlehem, the city where Jesus was born, is the center of the Christmas holidays. On the eve, tourists and locals invade the churches and follow the traditional religious procession. This is started by the parade of policemen, on Arabian horses, followed by a man carrying a huge cross, and other scenes from the history of the Christian religion.
Most Spaniards go to the Misa del Gallo, so named because a rooster is said to have sung on the night Jesus was born. Most families eat Christmas Eve before leaving for work. The traditional dish of the Spaniards is called Pavo Trufado de Navidad – turkey stuffed with truffles. In Galicia seafood of all kinds is eaten, from lobster to shellfish. After the service, people walk the streets carrying torches, playing guitar or drums. It’s a night in which the majority of people don’t sleep.
Thirteen Santa Clauses are coming to Iceland. 13 days before Christmas. The first Santa bypasses every house and then puts sweets in the children’s boots while they sleep. If they were good, the children receive sweets, fruits, and if they were bad, they receive a potato. The next day, the second Santa comes to the city and so on until December 25. January 6 is also called the “Thirteenth”. It is considered by Icelanders the last day of Christmas because on this day the last Santa Claus returns to his house.
In Italy, Christmas begins eight days in advance and is known as the Novena. The children go from house to house and recite poems or sing, but they only receive the gifts on January 6th. In many churches there are life-size cribs with baby Jesus and life-size magicians. In Italy there is a custom that, before Santa Claus,” Befana” comes. She is riding on her broom and carefully checks who was good and who was not. She slips on the chimneys and leaves the presents next to the decorated Christmas tree.