Christmas is a world-famous festival that is celebrated with much fanfare. The birthday of Jesus Christ is observed by people all across the world. There is the use of glittering lights, decoration with attractive flowers, and practice of sending gifts to loved ones – these are the major Christmas traditions across the world. But again the nitty-gritty details of traditions change from one country to another.
Read below and know about the varied ways Christmas is celebrated across the world:
The Christmas tradition in Sweden starts with Saint Lucia Day on 13th December. This day honours Saint Lucy or Lucia who was a 3rd Century martyr. She used to bring food for the Christians hiding in the catacombs using a candle-lit wreath to walk the road. Once her feast once accorded with the winter solstice and that’s why her feast day has become known as the Christmas festival of light. The most notable Swedish Christmas tradition is that the eldest girl in the family portrays as St. Lucia by putting on a white robe and a crown full of candles. Then she serves buns, coffee, cookies, and wine to her family members personifying St. Lucia. Another famous Christmas tradition here is to serve risgryngrot– a special rice porridge with one almond in it. It is believed that the person who finds the almond gets married in the coming year.
The festive begins here from 16th December. From 16th December to 24th December, kids perform “Posada” for which the outside portion of the house is decorated with paper lanterns, mosses, and evergreens. Each night a different family or household the Posada party and on 24th December a manger and figures of shepherds are put on the board. After that, they go to the Church and post that everyone engages in fireworks to kick start Christmas. Three Kings Cake or “Rosca de Reyes” is the traditional Mexican Christmas food here. This cake has a baby Jesus hidden inside it. Whoever gets that Jesus is believed to be the “Godparent” of Jesus for that year.
The oldest Italian Christmas tradition is that kids go out for carol singing and play songs on shepherd pipes wearing shepherd hats and sandals. On 24th December, there is no meat on the menu. People enjoy only seafood and then go to Midnight Mass service. After returning from the church people enjoy Italian Christmas cake – “Panettone”. The Italian Christmas food includes “the feast of the 7 fishes” and the fishes are – eel, baccala, calamari, clams, and sardines. Italians also bring Yule Logs which they burn through the holidays. Kids think that there is a lady named Befana who brings gifts for them so they keep their stockings up by the fireplace.
The English Christmas tradition is to decorate their homes with mistletoe, evergreens, holly, and ivy. Carol singers visit homes after twilight and ring the doorbells and sing famous carol songs. These carolers get little pies filled with nuts and dry fruits in return. On Christmas Eve, people gather to bake cookies, wrap presents, and hang stockings over the fireplace. Everyone gathers around the Christmas tree and tell their favourite stories. After this story session, kids write letters to Father Christmas expressing their wishes. The paper with wishes written on them is then thrown to the fireplace so that they burn and go up the chimney. Kids believe that once they sleep the Father Christmas comes to fill their stockings with candies and gifts.
On Christmas day, everyone gathers for a midday feast and a colourful Christmas cracker is kept beside the plate. This cracker is a paper-covered tube whose end tabs need to be pulled. With a loud crack, a paper hat will come out that everyone has to wear for the dinner party. There will also be a riddle that everyone has to read out loud. The popular Christmas food items are- turkey with chestnut filling, roast beef, Brussels sprouts, plum pudding, etc.
In Austria a beast-like demon, Krampus wanders around the city streets intimidating kids. Krampus punishes the naughty kids. Young men actually dress up as Krampus and frighten the kids with clattering chains and bells.
One of the weirdest decorations is found in the homes of Ukraine. Generally, people use seasonal flowers and lights to deck up for this special festival but in Ukraine, people use decorations that mimic the natural spider webs. Isn’t that strange? There was a poor widow who couldn’t afford to decorate a Christmas tree for her kids. So, the spider in her home ended up spinning beautiful webs all over the tree for the happiness of the children. Please note that spider webs are lucky in their culture.
Christmas is celebrated here since the 16th century. One of the weirdest traditions is that they have to hide a pickle somewhere within the branches of the Christmas tree. Whichever kid finds it has to be given a special gift.
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