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As cheerful as it sounds, the beauty of Christmas lies in the unique ways people celebrate it around the world. How fascinating are the traditions, people are following since the old times?
Here are some diverse Christmas traditions, we came across.
Hope you enjoy them!
6. The Netherlands “Zalig Kerstfeest”
For most children in The Netherlands, the most important day is 5th December, when Sinterklaas (St. Nicholas) and his servants called ‘Zwarte Pieten’ (‘Black Peters’) bring them their presents! Dutch tradition says that St. Nicholas lives in Madrid, Spain and every year he chooses a different harbour to arrive in Holland.
On Christmas Eve night, Dutch Children believe that Santa Claus, (‘Christmas man’ / ‘Kerstman’) comes from Lapland in Finland to deliver more presents!
Christmas Day is known as ‘Eerste Kerstdag’ (first Christmas day) and the day after Christmas is called ‘Tweede Kerstdag’ (second Christmas day). On the second day people tend to visit their families. The traditional way to eat with the family is called ‘gourmetten’, which is a little stove that is put on the table and where everyone prepares their own meal while seated.
7. Czech Republic “Veselé Vánoce”
The main Christmas celebrations are on Christmas Eve. The Czech traditional Christmas dinner often consists of fish soup (made of carp), and fried carp with potato salad.
Ježíšek ‘Little Jesus’ (the Czech version of Christkind) brings presents during the Christmas Eve dinner and leaves them under the Christmas Tree. Czech children have their dinner in a different from where the tree is located. When they hear the bell ring, that means that Ježíšek had been and has left their presents under the tree.
There’s a superstition in the Czech Republic that says if you throw a shoe over your shoulder on Christmas day, if the toe points towards the door, you will be married soon!
8. Finland “Hyvää joulua”
Finnish people believe that Santa Claus or Father Christmas lives in the north part of Finland called Korvatunturi (or Lapland), north of the Arctic Circle.
The main Christmas meal is eaten in the early evening. The course may include s lutefish, a leg of a pork with mashed potatoes, casseroles, cured salmon and turkey. Desert is baked rice pudding/porridge eaten with spiced plum jam. One almond is hidden in the pudding and whoever finds it will be lucky for the next year.
After the meal, Joulupukki (Santa) might visit the house!
A good Christmas sauna is always a great way to end the day.
9. Poland “Wesołych Świąt”
For Polish people, Advent is the beginning of Christmas time.
Wigilia (Christmas Eve) is a very important and busy day. Traditionally, no food is eaten until the first star is seen in the sky and after the children spot it it is time for the main meal, which is called “Kolacja wigilijna”.
On the table there are 12 dishes, meat free. Everyone has to eat or at least try some of each dish.
Presents are brought by Święty Mikołaj but in some parts of Poland there are different present bringers like “Dziadek Mróz” (Ded Moroz) or “Gwiazdor”, the Starman. The starman is not always all-good, if someone was bad, he can give him “rózga”, a birch-rod that should be used on bad person!
Christmas Eve is finished by going to Church for a Midnight Mass service.
It is said that carp’s scales bring luck and fortune and some are kept for the whole year (e.g. in wallets). Traditionally, some older ladies put them in their bras during the supper and give them to the guest on the next day for good luck.
10. Bulgaria “Vesela Koleda”
Although Bulgaria is an Orthodox country, Christmas there is celebrated on 25th of December instead of 7th of January.
Christmas Eve is usually celebrated with a traditional dinner. The meal should be vegan and must have an odd number of dishes in it (salt, pepper and sugar can count as separate dishes!).
There’s a special round and decorated loaf of bread called ‘pita’ which has a coin baked in it. If you find it, you’re meant to have good luck for the next year! The bread is normally cut by the oldest person at the meal and they hand it around the table.
Walnuts are very important. If your walnut is delicious you will have a good year, but if it’s spoiled, empty or has a small nut you’ll have a bad year!
It’s traditional that the table is left with all the food on it until the morning of Christmas Day. Some people think their ancestors might like something to eat during the night!
Around Midnight Koledari can visit your home who deliver the good news of Christ’s birth, sing Christmas songs, and say blessings about the house and its owners. After the singing, the head of the house will give the Koledari food to thank them for singing.
Dyado Koleda (Grandpa Christmas), comes at night and leaves the presents under the Christmas tree. He might also have a some food at night especially if there are some cookies left.
On Christmas Day families have another big meal, but this time there will be meat, normally some kind of pork.
An old traditional says that an oak, elm or pear tree known as a “budnik” should be burnt at night and if the fire is great and there are lot of sparks, the year will be fertile and healthy.
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Joy. Happiness. Love.