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Christmas is a public holiday in Singapore that is widely celebrated. The famous Singaporean shopping belt Orchard Road , as well as the Marina Bay area will feature lights and other decorations from early November till early January the part is November 14, all the way until January 5, The Christmas light-up and decorated shopping malls along Orchard Road often attract numerous visitors, locals and tourists alike. Other than the light-up, other activities such as caroling, concerts and parades can also be experienced in Orchard Road.

In addition, companies in Singapore usually arrange gift exchange programs on the last working day before Christmas. Christmas is not a national holiday but is becoming increasingly popular in Vietnam. Vietnamese may be more accepting of corporate influence because for many, Christmas was never based on personal values to begin with. Instead, it's a time to go out on the town, shop, and take pictures with friends in front of colorful displays, especially on December Armenians usually celebrate Christmas on January 6. The reason for this unusual date emerges from ancient history. It also coincides with the Epiphany.

When the Gregorian calendar was implemented in , the Armenians rejected the reformed calendar and remained following the Julian Calendar. Since the Julian calendar is thirteen days ahead of the Gregorian Calendar, when the Armenians of Jerusalem celebrate Christmas on January 6 according to the Julian calendar the Gregorian calendar counts the day as January Traditionally, Armenians fast during the week leading up to Christmas avoiding all meat, eggs, and dairy products.

Christmas Eve is particularly rich in traditions. Dessert includes dried fruits and nuts, including rojik , which consists of whole shelled walnuts threaded on a string and encased in grape jelly, bastukh a paper-like confection of grape jelly, cornstarch, and flour , etc. This lighter menu is designed to ease the stomach off the week-long fast and prepare it for the rather more substantial Christmas Day dinner. Children take presents of fruits, nuts, and other candies to older relatives.

Christmas in the Armenian tradition is a purely religious affair. Assyrians colloquially call Christmas Eda Zora, meaning "little holiday. In Iraq, for instance, on Christmas Eve, Assyrian families congregate outside of their house and hold lighted candles while a child reads aloud the nativity story. Then they all sing psalms over a bonfire made of thorn bushes. Folklore says that if the thorns burn to ashes, the family will have good luck. After the fire has been reduced to ashes, the family members will jump three times over the ashes and make a wish.

He blesses one person with a touch. That person touches the next person and the touch passes around until all have felt the touch of peace. These two dishes are only made twice a year: Traditional desserts eaten after the main course include Killeche, a date and walnut-stuffed cookie, and Kadeh, another stuffed pastry. After the feast is finished, Assyrians will visit the houses of family and friends to exchange Christmas greetings, saying, " Eedokhon breekha, " meaning "May your feast be blessed. Although Christmas is celebrated in a much more religious fashion, in recent years, families put up a small Christmas tree in the house.

Christmas is an official holiday in Lebanon. Lebanese celebrate Christmas on December 25, except for Armenian Lebanese who celebrate Christmas on January 6 which is also an official holiday in Lebanon. Lebanese families come together and butcher a sheep for a Christmas Eve feast, in honor of the birth of The Shepherd Jesus Christ. On that night the head of the house passes around a piece of coal representing the sins before Christ. Christmas is observed widely on December Governments recognizing the holiday include those of: In the Canadian provinces where English is the predominant language, Christmas traditions are largely similar to those of the United States, with some lingering influences from the United Kingdom and newer traditions brought by immigrants from other European countries.

Mince pies , plum pudding , and Christmas cake are traditionally served as Christmas dinner desserts, following the traditional meal of roast turkey, stuffing, potatoes, and winter vegetables. Christmas table crackers are not uncommon and, in some parts of Newfoundland and Nova Scotia , Christmas traditions include mummers. North American influences on Christmas are evident in the hanging of stockings on Christmas Eve, to be filled by Santa Claus. As Canada is a cold, dark country in winter, lights are often put up in public places and on commercial and residential buildings in November and December.

The Royal Christmas Message from the Canadian monarch is televised nationwide in Canada, the occasion being an observance which unites Canadians with citizens of the other Commonwealth countries worldwide. The observation of Boxing Day on the day following Christmas Day is a tradition practiced in Canada, as it is in many other Anglophone countries, although not in the United States.

In Canada, Boxing Day is a day or the beginning of a few days of deeply discounted sale prices at retail stores which attract large numbers of shoppers in search of bargains. Christmas is a statutory holiday in Mexico and workers can have the day off with pay. Mexico's Christmas is filled with over 30 traditions found only within Mexican Christmas. Since the s, Mexican society has embraced a new concept linking several celebrations around Christmas season into what is known as the Guadalupe-Reyes Marathon.

At midnight on Christmas, many families place the figure of baby Jesus in their nacimientos Nativity scenes , as the symbolic representation of Christmas as a whole. Santa Claus or Santa Clos, as he's known in Mexico [54] is who brings the children their gifts, but traditionally the Three Wise Men will fill the children's shoes with candies, oranges, tangerines, nuts, and sugar cane, and sometimes money or gold.

Christmas is a widely celebrated festive holiday in the United States, [55] and Christmas Day is officially recognized as a federal holiday by the US Government. The Christmas and holiday season begins around the end of November with a major shopping kickoff on Black Friday , the day after the U. Many schools and businesses are closed during the period between Christmas and the New Year's Day holiday, which is a time commonly used to spend time with family and close friends, return unwanted gifts at stores, and shop after-Christmas sales.

Most decorations are taken down by New Years or Epiphany. Other observances considered part of the season and potentially included in non-denominational holiday greetings like "Happy Holidays" include Hanukkah , Yule , Epiphany, Kwanzaa , and winter solstice celebrations. The interior and exterior of houses are decorated during the weeks leading up to Christmas Eve. Christmas tree farms in the United States and Canada provide families with trees for their homes, many opting for artificial ones , but some for real ones.

The Christmas tree usually stands centrally in the home, decorated with ornaments, tinsel, and lights, with an angel or a star symbolizing the Star of Bethlehem at the top. Christmas Eve is popularly described as " the night before Christmas " in the poem actually titled " A Visit from St.

Better known as Santa Claus , he is said to visit homes while children are sleeping during the night before Christmas morning. The fireplaces in many homes have been replaced by electric fireplaces , but the yule log has remained a tradition. Christmas stockings are hung on the mantelpiece for Santa Claus to fill with little gifts "stocking stuffers".

Christmas traditions - Wikipedia

It is tradition throughout the United States for children to leave a glass of milk and plate of Christmas cookies for Santa Claus nearby. Presents the family will exchange are wrapped and placed near the tree, including presents to be given to pets. Grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, siblings and occasionally guests from out of town are entertained in the home or else visited. Wrapped presents are most commonly opened on the morning of Christmas Day; however, some families choose to open all or some of their presents on Christmas Eve, depending on evolving family traditions, logistics, and the age of the children involved; for example, adults might open their presents on Christmas Eve and minor children on Christmas morning, or everyone might open their gifts on Christmas morning.

Others follow the tradition of opening family-exchanged gifts on Christmas Eve night, followed by opening of the presents Santa brought on Christmas morning. Children are normally allowed to play with their new toys and games afterwards. The traditional Christmas dinner usually features either roasted turkey with stuffing sometimes called dressing , ham , or roast beef. Potatoes, squash, roasted vegetables and cranberry sauce are served along with tonics and sherries.

A variety of sweet pastry and egg nog sprinkled with cinnamon and nutmeg are served in the United States. Certain dishes such as casseroles and desserts are prepared with a family recipe usually kept a secret [ citation needed ]. Sometimes, families also partake in a religious tradition, such as the consumption of a Christmas wafer in Christian families of European ancestry. Fruits, nuts, cheeses and chocolates are enjoyed as snacks. Candlelight services are held earlier in the evening for families with children. A re-enactment of the Nativity of Jesus called a Nativity play is another tradition.

Christmas-related tourist attractions, such as the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree and elaborate animated department store Christmas windows in New York City are heavily visited by tourists from all over the world. Christmas music can be heard in the background. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir is one whose annual carol singing is well-recognized; another example is the Boys choir heard singing " Christmas Time Is Here ", [61] a song featured in the animated television special A Charlie Brown Christmas. Christmas symphony orchestra and choral presentation such as Handel's Messiah and performances of The Nutcracker ballet are attended.

Local radio stations may temporarily switch format to play exclusively Christmas music, some going to an all-Christmas format as early as mid-October. News broadcasts and talk shows feature Christmas-themed segments, emphasizing fellowship and goodwill among neighbors. Of particular note is the observance of Christmas for military families of soldiers and sailors serving abroad, on both sides of the Canada—U. The Los Angeles Lakers have made it a tradition, since they relocated from Minneapolis prior to the NBA season , to have a home game on Christmas.

As of , the NBA now schedules five games on Christmas, usually including classic rivalry games as well as a rematch of the previous season's NBA Finals. Christmas for El Salvador still carries a strong meaning that brings families together. Despite the business on the streets and the red, green and white colors flooding the environment, Salvadoran people try to honor what they consider to be the true meaning of Christmas, the birth of Jesus.

In El Salvador children celebrate Christmas by playing with firecrackers , fountains, such as the small volcancitos "little volcanos" and sparklers, estrellitas "little stars". Teenagers and young adults display bigger fireworks or Roman Candles. Families also have parties in which they dance and eat.

Santa Claus is known for appearing in TV and print ads, but people ask children if they already wrote a letter to little baby Jesus. Traditional Salvadoran Christmas dishes are sauteed turkey sandwiches in a baguette with lettuce and radishes, Salvadoran Tamales , and sweet bread for dessert. Drinks include hot chocolate , pineapple juice, Salvadoran horchata , Cherry Salvadoran horchata, and coffee. On Christmas in Guatemala, people dress up in an ornamental hat, called a Puritina , and dance in a line.

As with much of the country's culture, the celebration includes Spanish and Mayan elements. Christmas Day on December 25 is a national holiday in Brazil. Despite the warm tropical summer weather, some incongruences such as decorations with themes of winter and snow are not uncommon. In some cities like Guarapuava , there are decoration contests, when judges go to houses to look at the decorations, inside or outside of the house, and decide the most beautiful house.

Christmas Eve is the most important day. Unlike in the North American and Anglo-Saxon tradition, Christmas takes action mainly near midnight, usually with big family dinners, opening of gifts and the celebration of the "Missa do Galo" the rooster's mass in churches throughout the nation. Many Brazilians decorate their homes with a Christmas Tree, there is no rule, the parents can decorate it by themselves as a surprise to the kids, or they can do it together.

In addition to the Christmas tree, many families set up a Nativity scene as the main decoration. Nativity scenes are very popular in Brazil, and can be seen everywhere including churches and popular places around the town. Like many other countries, Christmas dinner in Brazil is normally served late in the evening on Christmas Eve around 10 or 11 p.

The meal often includes farofa stuffing, assortments of fruit, fried cod, and roast turkey with a dessert called " rabanada ". Along with their meals, Brazilians typically drink champagne, wine, and fruit punch. Typically after they eat, many Brazilians attend a Midnight Mass service or watch the Pope's television broadcast celebration of "Midnight Mass in Rome" with family and friends. Christmas is a public holiday in Colombia and is primarily a religious celebration. In many cities, and even in small rural towns, neighborhoods get together and decorate their whole neighborhood or street, turning streets into virtual "tunnels of light.

Activities such as musical events and firework displays are planned by cities and held during this time. Individually launched fireworks were a common item during the Christmas season in Colombia, often going on at any time of the day in many cities. However, a recent ban has decreased the individual use of fireworks, and now only cities or towns are able to hold firework displays. December 16 is the first day of the Christmas Novena , a devotion consisting of prayer said on nine successive days, the last one held on Christmas Eve.

The Novena is promoted by the Catholic Church as a staple of Christmas, and is very similar to the posadas celebrated in Mexico. It is a call for an understanding of the religious meaning of Christmas, and a way to counter the commercialism of the Christmas season. Individual traditions concerning the Novena may vary, but most families set up a "pesebre" manger scene , sing religious Christmas carols called villancicos accompanied by tambourines, bells, and other simple percussion instruments, and read verses from the Bible as well as an interpretation which may change from year to year.

Novenas serve as beautiful religious gatherings as well as learning environments for young children since kids have a central and active role in the celebration of the Novenas they read prayers, sing, and play instruments guided by their family. From December 16 to 24, games called "aguinaldos" [66] are played after having made a "pinky promise" deciding the prize for the winner and the punishment for the loser.

Churches offer dawn and nightly masses during the nine days of the novena, culminating with the Misa de Gallo Rooster's Mass on Christmas Eve at midnight. Christmas Eve is the most important day of Christmas in Colombia. Families and friends get together to pray the last Novena and wait until midnight to open the presents, parties are held until sunrise on Christmas Day , kids stay up late playing with their new presents, and fireworks fill the skies.

Families gather around meals, music, and singing. Because Christmas Eve is the most important day, little occurs on December Families join Christmas Day mass although it is not nearly as festive as Christmas Eve. The day commemorates the innocent infants called the innocent ones who were said to have been killed by King Herod in fear of the power of the newborn baby, Jesus. January 6, the day of the Revelation of the Magi Epiphany , is called "Reyes Magos" from The Three Magi , used to be a day of gift giving, but is celebrated less now since gifts are given mostly around Christmas Eve today.

Christmas traditions

Some families still give presents, and it is also the day when godparents give Christmas presents. In Venezuela, Christmas is celebrated as a religious occasion. The unofficial start of the Christmas festivities is after the celebrations of " Feria de la Chinita ", the second half of November. This event takes place in the Zulia Region, specifically in Maracaibo the regional capital.

After this, other cities join in the festivities and many activities take place including musical events and firework displays. In many cities, small rural towns and neighborhoods get together for the "patinatas" night festivals where children go and play with skateboards, roller blades and bicycles. These events are usually sponsored by the local church, where neighbors organize themselves and sell typical Christmas food, hot chocolate, hallaca , cookies, etc. Also still in some neighborhoods there is the " Parranda " where people go from one house to house with music and Christmas songs.

The singers stops at neighbors' houses to get some food and drinks. The presents are sent by Baby Jesus at midnight, and most people have a party, which goes on until sunrise. It is a carnival featuring parading bands in colorful costumes, singing, dancing, and decorations. Bahamian Christmas foods include black cake, imported apples, pepper pot, pickled onions and ham. Drinks like ginger-beer, sorrel, mauby, and sweet potato fly are served on Christmas. Cuba had a long tradition of celebrating Christmas. Families used to gather at the dining table, and used to go to mass after dinner.

The Communist Regime led by Fidel Castro abolished the paid Christmas holiday in , citing that workers were needed to continue the sugar harvest. Radio stations play Christmas carols as early as October, reggae style and some international. Jamaicans paint their houses and hang new curtains for Christmas. Pepper lights, the local name for Christmas lights, go up even on trees. Junkanoo or John Canoe is a traditional Christmas celebration in Jamaica, influenced by African ancestors.

This includes street dancing and a great parade through the streets with Jamaicans dressed in colorful masquerade costumes in which masks are worn. The traditional Jamaican Christmas meal includes ackee , saltfish, breadfruit, fried plantains, boiled bananas, freshly squeezed fruit juice and tea for breakfast; chicken, curried goat , stewed oxtail, rice and gungo peas for dinner. For dessert, sorrel drink and a Jamaican rum fruitcake along with red wine are served in many homes. In countries of Central Europe for this purpose, roughly defined as the German-speaking countries of Germany, Austria and Switzerland as well as the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary and possibly other places the main celebration date for the general public is Christmas Eve December The day is usually a fasting day; in some places children are told they'll see a golden pig if they hold fast until after dinner.

When the evening comes preparation of Christmas Dinner starts. Traditions concerning dinner vary from region to region, for example, in Poland, Czech Republic, and Slovakia, the prevailing meal is fried carp with potato salad and fish or cabbage soup. However, in some places the tradition is porridge with mushrooms a modest dish , and elsewhere the dinner is exceptionally rich, with up to 12 dishes.

This in fact reveals that when Christmas comes around all the kids get presents from neighbours and house guest. Even the house pet got a little something to gnaw on. After the dinner comes the time for gifts. Children usually find their gifts under the Christmas Tree, with name stickers. An interesting example of complicated history of the region is the "fight" between Christmas beings. During communism, when countries of Central Europe were under Soviet influence, communist authorities strongly pushed Russian traditional Ded Moroz "Grandfather Frost" in the place of Little Jesus won. Now Santa Claus is attacking, by means of advertising and Hollywood film production.

Many people, Christians as well as people with just a Christian background, go to Roman Catholic midnight mass celebration. Other common attributes of Christmas in Central Europe include Christmas trees, mistletoe, Christmas garlands, and Bethlehem cribs. In many areas of Central Europe, St.

He visits families earlier, on the dawn of St. Nicholas Day on December 6, and for the well-behaved children he has presents and candy-bags to put into their well polished shoes that were set in the windows the previous evening. Although he neither parks his sleigh on rooftops nor climbs chimneys, his visits are usually accompanied by a diabolic-looking servant named Krampusz in Austria, Slovenia, and Croatia: Actually all children get both gifts and golden birches Hungarian: In some German-speaking communities, in the German-speaking Europe; particularly in Catholic regions of western and southern Germany, Switzerland, Austria, South Tyrol and Liechtenstein, as well as in other Catholic regions of Central Europe, the Christkind literally "Christ child" brings the presents on the evening of December 24 Holy Evening or Heiliger Abend.

However, he rings a bell just before he leaves in order to let children know that the Christmas tree and the presents are ready. It is a tradition to lavishly decorate a Christmas tree in the days directly before Christmas or on the morning of Christmas Eve. On late Christmas Eve, after the bell rings, the tree is shown to the children and presents are exchanged. In Protestant churches , there is a service in the late afternoon intended to immediately precede the Christmas Eve meal and the exchanging of gifts.

This service, called Christvesper , consists most often of scriptural readings, the Christmas Gospel from Luke 2, a Krippenspiel nativity play , favourite Christmas carols and festive music for organ and choirs. In some regions the tradition of Quempas singing is still popular.

Some Lutheran churches also celebrate a candlelight service at midnight besides the Christmas Vespers in the afternoon or early evening. The crib is a very important part of the celebrations in Catholic areas especially Bavaria. In the largely Catholic Austria, Christmas markets are a long-standing tradition. In Vienna , for instance, the market is held in the large square in front of City Hall. Innsbruck opens its romantic Christmas market in the narrow medieval square at the foot of the Golden Roof.

In Salzburg , the Christmas market takes over the square in front of the Cathedral with its picturesque stalls, while the tree vendors occupy Residenzplatz on the side of the huge Cathedral. However almost every small town has its own Christmas market.

The Origins of 12 Christmas Traditions

In Austria, Christmas trees play a very important part of Christmas celebrations. Every town sets up its own huge tree on the main square all decorated with candles, ornaments and candies and frequently there will be an extra one, adorned with bread crumbs, for the birds. In families the tree is decorated with gold and silver ornaments or stars made out of straw, sweets and candy wrapped in tinfoil, gilded nuts, etc.

The feast of St Nicholas marks the beginning of Christmas in Austria. Austrian Christmas tradition has it that it is the Christ Child himself who decorates the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve and brings the children their Christmas presents, and it is to him that their letters and wish lists are addressed in the weeks before Christmas. The Christmas Eve dinner is the main event of the night often served with fried carp. The famous sachertorte and different kinds of chocolates are served as dessert.

Swedish Christmas vs American Christmas Traditions

The Austrians also have special crescent shaped cookies served during Christmas time. In Germany Christmas traditions vary by region. Nikolaus still puts goodies in children's shoes on that day. Nicholas visits children in kindergarten, schools or at public events.

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They have to recite a short poem or sing a song in order to get sweets or a small gift. His duty is to punish those children who haven't behaved during the year. Usually he doesn't have much to do. He merely stands near St. Nicholas as a warning to be good and polite. The Sorbs , a minority in Saxony and parts of Brandenbuerg with a language similar to Polish, have some specific traditions. It provides smaller presents like sweets, similar to the Nikolaus and provides blessings, stays however silent.

Sweden: ‘God Jul!’

Christmas letters may be addressed e. After privatization, Deutsche Post kept the tradition of dedicated Christmas offices, one in each state, answering letters and requests from children. Currently the actual Christmas gift-giving German: This tradition was introduced by Reformator , Martin Luther , as he as of the opinion that one should put the emphasis on Christ's birth and not on a saint's day and do away with the connotation that gifts have to be earned by good behavior. The gifts should be seen as a symbol for the gift of God's grace in Christ.

Gifts may be brought by the Weihnachtsmann translation, "Christmas man" , who resembles either St.

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Nicholas or the American Santa Claus , or by Christkindl , a sprite-like child who may or may not represent the baby Jesus. After the gifts are opened the children often stay up as late as they like, often till the early hours of the morning. The Christmas Tree is first put up and decorated on the morning of the 24th.

The gifts are then placed under the tree. Christmas services in the church serve as well to exchange greetings with neighbors and friends. After an evening meal one of the parents usually goes into the room where the tree is standing, lights the candles and rings a little bell. Then the children are allowed to go into the candlelit room. In many families it is still a custom to sing Christmas songs around the tree before opening up the presents.

Some families attend a midnight church service "Christmette" after the evening meal and gift-giving. The culinary feast either takes place at supper on Christmas Eve or on the first day of Christmas. Traditions vary from region to region; carp is eaten in many parts of the country. Another simple meal which some families favor, especially in regions where Christmas Eve still has the character of a fast day , is vegetable or pea soup. In some regions, especially in Schleswig-Holstein where Danish influence is noticeable, a roasted duck or goose filled with plums, apples and raisins is family tradition.

In other regions, especially in Mecklenburg and Pomerania , many families prefer kale with boiled potatoes, special sausages and ham. Many families have developed new traditions for themselves and eat such meals as meat fondue or raclette. In almost all families in all parts of Germany you find a wide variety of Christmas cookies baked according to recipes typical for the family and the region. Fish soup and breaded roasted carp with special homemade potato salad are a traditional dish for the dinner. The gifts are surreptitiously placed under the Christmas tree usually a spruce or pine and lately fir , usually just before or during dinner.

That happens at the end of their Christmas dinner. Other Czech and Slovak Christmas traditions involve predictions for the future. Apples are always cut crosswise: Girls throw shoes over their shoulders — if the toe points to the door, the girl will get married soon.


Another tradition requires pouring some molten lead into water and guessing a message from its shapes. Although the role of gift-giver on Christmas Day itself is assigned to the Christ Child, on the night before St. The day is otherwise a fast-day. In the evening Christmas Eve, in Hungarian: This is the most intimate moment of Christmas, featuring warmly lit Christmas tree and candles, soft Christmas music, family singing of Christmas or religious songs and gift pack openings.

There is also a popular folk custom during December and especially on Christmas Eve, in which children or adults present the birth of Jesus. The custom is called 'playing Bethlehem' Hungarian: A Christmas crib and a church are used as the scene. The actors go from house to house, and they receive gifts for their performance. In the largely Roman Catholic Poland, Christmas Eve begins with a day of fasting and then a night of feasting. The traditional Christmas meal is known as Wigilia "The Vigil " , and being invited to attend a Wigilia dinner with a family is considered a high honour.

On that evening, children watch the sky anxiously hoping to be the first to cry out, "The star has come! According to tradition, bits of hay are spread beneath the tablecloth as a reminder that Christ was born in a manger. Others partake in the practice of placing money under the table cloth for each guest, in order to wish for prosperity in the coming year. The dinner contains twelve dishes, one for each Apostle.

In many homes, an extra place setting is set. The empty setting is symbolically left at the table for a lonely wanderer who may be in need of food, an angel, the Baby Jesus or the Holy Spirit should appear to share the feast. Before eating, everyone exchanges Christmas greetings with each other. A tradition exists among some families to serve twelve different dishes at Wigilia symbolizing the Twelve Apostles , or perhaps, an odd number of dishes for good luck usually five, seven, or nine.

Some practice the superstition that an even number of people must be seated around the table. A traditional Wigilia supper in Poland includes fried carp and barszcz beetroot soup with uszka translated as "little ears", also known as meatless ravioli. Universal Polish Christmas foods are pierogi as well as some herring dishes, herring fillets, herring in aspic and for dessert, makowiec or noodles with poppy seed.

Often, there is a compote of dry fruits for a drink. Dishes beside fish are usually cabbage -, forest mushroom- like boletus and poppyseed -based, with herring being very important. After supper the Star Man arrives attended by the Star Boys. They are dressed as Wise Men or animals or other figures.

The Star Man examines the children in their catechism and rewards them with small presents if they do well, even if they need a bit of coaching. The Star Boys sing carols and are given a treat for their help. The feast begins with the appearance of the first star. The meal is followed by the exchange of gifts. The remainder of the evening is given to stories and songs around the Christmas tree. In some areas of the country, children are taught that "The Little Star" brings the gifts.

As presents are unwrapped, carollers may walk from house to house receiving treats along the way. Christmas Eve ends with Pasterka , the Midnight Mass at the local church. The tradition commemorates the arrival of the Three Wise Men to Bethlehem and their paying of respect and bearing witness to the new born Messiah. The custom of Christmas night liturgy was introduced in the Christian churches after the second half of the 5th century. In Poland that custom arrived together with the coming of Christianity. According to scripture, the Christmas Day masses are interchangeable allowing for greater flexibility in choosing the religious services by individual parishioners.

Celebrations begin with the decoration of the Christmas tree during daytime on December 24, and in the evening Christmas Eve, in Romanian: The singing of carols is a very important part of Romanian Christmas festivities. On the first day of Christmas, many carolers walk through the streets of the towns and villages, holding a star made of cardboard and paper on which are depicted various scenes from the Bible.

Romanian tradition has the smallest children going from house to house, singing carols and reciting poems and legends during the whole Christmas season. The leader of the group carries with him a star made of wood, covered with metal foil and decorated with bells and coloured ribbons. An image of the Nativity is painted on the star's centre, and this piece of handiwork is attached to the end of a broom or other long stick.

Romanian food served during the holidays is a hearty multi-coursed meal, most of which consists of pork organs, muscle, and fat. This is mainly a symbolic gesture for St. Since the s, the Christmas customs of the Eastern Slavic countries have included a similar character known as Ded Moroz "Grandfather Frost". According to legend, he travels in a magical sanki — a decorated sleigh drawn by reindeer or three white horses.

With his young, blond assistant Snegurochka the "Snow Maiden", said to be his granddaughter at his side, he visits homes and gives gifts to good children not true for former Yugoslavian countries. He only delivers presents to children while they are asleep, and unlike Santa, he does not travel down chimneys, coming instead to the front door of children's homes. It is traditional for children to leave food for Ded Moroz. This Ded Moroz in Russia, Ded Moroz is not identified nor in any way associated with Saint Nicholas of Myra feast day , December 6 , who is very widely revered in Eastern Europe for his clerical and charitable works as a bishop.

In all likelihood, Ded Moroz is actually in Slavic tradition like Santa Claus, any connection to the original saint having long since disappeared. On calendars in Georgia , Christmas Georgian: It is traditional in Georgia to go on Alilo a modified pronunciation of Alleluia , a mass walk in the streets, dressed in special clothing to celebrate and congratulate each other.

Most members of the Alilo march are children and they are given sweets by the adults. The Alilo carols vary across the provinces of Georgia. In most songs these words are used: A local variant of the Christmas tree, called Chichilaki , is made of soft wooden material with curled branches. Sometimes it is hazelnut branch which is carved into a Tree of Life -like shape and decorated with fruits and sweets.

The Western custom of a Christmas tree nadzvis khe is also popular and has been imported through Russia. The Georgian equivalent of "Santa Claus" is known as tovlis papa or tovlis babua in western Georgian dialects , literally meaning a "Grandfather snow", and is traditionally portrayed with long white beard, dressed in national costume " chokha " and wearing a fur cloak "nabadi". As in some other Eastern Orthodox countries, and due to the day difference between the newer Gregorian, and older Julian Calendars, Christmas is celebrated on January 7. Unlike its Western counterparts, Christmas is mainly a religious event in Russia.

The family will then return home for the traditional Christmas Eve " Holy Supper ", which consists of 12 dishes, one to honor each of the Twelve Apostles. Since Christmas has become a national holiday in Russia , as part of the ten-day holiday at the start of every new year. During the Soviet period, religious celebrations were discouraged by the officially atheist state.

Christmas tree and related celebrations were gradually eradicated after the October Revolution. In , in a surprising turn of state politics, the Christmas tradition was adopted as part of the secular New Year celebration. Many of these were brought to Russia by Peter the Great after his Western travels in the late 17th century. Sviata Vecheria or "Holy Supper" is the central tradition of the Christmas Eve celebrations in Ukrainian homes and takes place in most parts of the country on January 6. In Western Ukraine, especially in Carpathian Ruthenia , due to historical multi-culturism, Christmas can be observed twice—on December 25 and January 7, often irrespective of whether the family belongs to Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church , the Roman Catholic Church, one of the Ukrainian Orthodox Churches , or one of the Protestant denominations.

The Western Ukrainian tradition of two Christmas celebrations, since , are also celebrated nationwide as well. When the children see the first star in the eastern evening sky, which symbolizes the trek of the Three Wise Men, the Sviata Vechera may begin. In farming communities the head of the household now brings in a sheaf of wheat called the didukh which represents the importance of the ancient and rich wheat crops of Ukraine, the staff of life through the centuries. Didukh means literally "grandfather spirit" so it symbolizes the family's ancestors.

In city homes a few stalks of golden wheat in a vase are often used to decorate the table. The dinner table sometimes has a few wisps of hay on the embroidered table cloth as a reminder of the manger in Bethlehem. A prayer is said and the father says the traditional Christmas greeting, "Chrystos rodyvsya! In many communities the old Ukrainian tradition of caroling is carried on by groups of young people and members of organizations and churches calling at homes and collecting donations.

Traditionally, Christmas Day opens for Ukrainian families with attendance in church services Mass, worship service or Divine Liturgy. Ukrainian churches offer services starting before midnight on Christmas Eve and on Christmas morning. Christmas supper, without Lenten restrictions, does not have as many traditions connected with it as Sviata Vechera.

The old tradition in Ukraine of giving gifts to children on St. Nicholas Day, December 19, has generally been replaced by the Christmas date and it is the Father Frost who visits all the children in a sleigh pulled by only three reindeer. In Western Ukraine the St.

Nicholas Day is marked there on December 6. In much of Northern Europe Christmas is celebrated on December 24 and is referred to as Jul see Yule , while December 25 is a relaxed day for visiting relatives. The Norse believed that the sun was a great wheel of fire that rolled towards and then away from the earth.

Danes celebrate on December 24, which is referred to as Juleaften literally "Yule evening". Also caramelized potatoes is an important part of the Dane's Christmas dinner. For dessert rice pudding is traditionally served — composed largely of whipped cream and accompanied by lashings of black cherry sauce. The rice pudding also contains chopped peeled almonds, and a single whole peeled almond.

Whoever finds the whole almond will have good luck for the coming year, and the lucky finder is entitled to a small gift, Mandelgave. After the meal is complete, the family gathers around the Christmas tree and sings Christmas songs and hymns while holding hands and dancing in circles, and may even tour the house, still holding hands and singing.

When the singing is complete, traditions vary. In some traditions, the family will select one child to hand out the presents. All children take turns handing out presents in other traditions. Alternatively "Santa Claus", the Julemanden , will appear at the door in full costume with a large sack of presents over his shoulder. He will then distribute the presents, with the assistance of any children present, to their recipients.

He should be offered suitable drink to keep him warm and cheerful on his onward journey, but do not expect loquacity — utterances are normally limited to loud and hearty laughs. The Danish are somewhat famous for their Julefrokost, literally meaning "Christmas lunch", which includes various traditional Danish dishes, potentially accompanied by beer and Snaps. These Julefrokoster are popular and held within families, as well as by companies and other social groups.

They would traditionally have taken place leading up to Christmas, but due to time constraints and stress during the Christmas month they are nowadays commonly held during November and January as well. Several television stations produce their own, most, but not all of which are targeted at child viewers.

Some of the television advent calendars become extremely popular and go on to be reprised in subsequent years. In Denmark, Santa Claus is known as Julemanden literally "the Yule Man" and is said to arrive in a sleigh drawn by reindeer, with presents for the children. He is assisted with his Yuletide chores by elves known as julenisser or simply nisser , who are traditionally believed to live in attics, barns or similar places.

In some traditions, to maintain the favour and protection of these nisser, children leave out saucers of milk or rice pudding or other treats for them and are delighted to find the food gone on Christmas morning. Each year on this day, the President of Estonia declares the Christmas Peace and attends a Christmas service. The tradition was initiated by the order of Queen Christina of Sweden in the 17th century. For dessert, Estonians eat gingerbread piparkoogid and marzipan.

Estonians leave the leftover food from Christmas dinner on the table overnight, in hopes that the spirits of family, friends, and loved ones will visit and also have something to eat. It is also customary to visit graveyards and leave candles for the deceased. Christmas is an extensively prepared celebration centering on the family and home, although it has a religious dimension also. The Christmas season starts from December or even in late November, when shops began advertising potential Christmas gifts. Christmas decorations and songs become more prominent as Christmas nears, and children count days to Christmas with Advent calendars.

Schools and some other places have the day before Christmas Eve aatonaatto , December 23 as a holiday, but at the latest on the Christmas Eve jouluaatto , December 24 , shops close early and stay closed until December Stephen's Day" are mandatory public holidays in Finland [86] Schools continue holidays up to the New Year. It is a custom in many towns and cities. The most famous one of these declarations is on the Old Great Square of Turku , the former capital of Finland, at noon on Christmas Eve.

It is broadcast on Finnish radio since and television, and nowadays also in some foreign countries. The declaration ceremony begins with the hymn Jumala ompi linnamme Martin Luther 's A Mighty Fortress Is Our God by a band of the Finnish Navy and a male choir and continues with the Declaration of Christmas Peace read from a parchment roll, in both Finnish and Swedish, the country's two official languages:. The ceremony ends with trumpets playing the Finnish national anthem Maamme and Porilaisten marssi , with the crowd usually singing when the band plays Maamme.

Recently, there is also a declaration of Christmas peace for forest animals in many cities and municipalities, so there is no hunting during Christmas. Finnish people clean their homes well before Christmas and prepare special treats for the festive season. A sheaf of grain, nuts and seeds are tied on a pole, which is placed in the garden for the birds to feed on. Spruce trees are cut or bought from a market and taken to homes on or a few days before Christmas Eve and are decorated.

Candles are lit on the Christmas tree, which is traditionally decorated using apples and other fruit, candies, paper flags, cotton and tinsel, in addition to Christmas ornaments such as stars or baubles. Actual candles are no longer used, being replaced by incandescent or LED lamps. A star symbolizing the Star of Bethlehem is placed at the top of the tree. Just before the Christmas festivities begin, people usually take a Christmas sauna.

The tradition is very old; unlike on normal days, when one would go to the sauna in the evening, on Christmas Eve it is done before sunset. This tradition is based on a preth century belief that the spirits of the dead return and have a sauna at the usual sauna hours. The most traditional dish of the Finnish Christmas dinner is probably Christmas Ham , roast suckling pig or a roasted fresh ham, but some may prefer alternatives like turkey.

Several sorts of casseroles , like rutabaga, carrot and potato casserole are traditional, and are almost always exclusively served on Christmas. Other traditional Christmas dishes include boiled codfish soaked beforehand in a lye solution for a week to soften it served snowy white and fluffy, pickled herring and vegetables.

Prune jam pastries, plum or mixed fruit soup, rice porridge with cinnamon, sugar and cold milk, and sweets like chocolate are popular desserts. Christmas gifts are usually exchanged after Christmas Eve dinner. Christmas Day services begin early at six in the morning and people visit families and reunions are arranged on this day.

Stephen 's Day is traditionally set aside for driving around the village tapaninajot , to counterbalance the solemn and family-oriented part of Christmas. Traditionally, one candle is lit each Sunday until four candles are lit on the 24th. After the meal is finished, they open gifts and spend the evening together. In Iceland people over the Yule holidays most often eat Most popular dishes are smoked lamb, ptarmigan and turkey.

Pork is also very popular. Thirteen days before December 24 the Yule Lads children will leave their shoes by the window so that the Yule Lads can leave small gifts in their shoes. Each of the Yule Lads is known for a different kind of mischief for example slamming doors, stealing meat, stealing milk or eating the candles. The Yule Lads traditionally wear early Icelandic wool clothing but are now known for the more recognizable red and white suit. Each home typically sets up a Christmas tree indoors in the living room with most decorating it on December In addition to the decorations, presents are put underneath the tree.

It is also a tradition in many homes to boil skate on the 23rd. During the holiday season, it is traditional for families to work together to bake small cookies to serve or give to guests. Most common are thin gingerbread cookies which are decorated in many different colors of glaze. At the night of the former and morning of the latter Icelanders shoot up fireworks blowing the old year away and welcoming the new one.

Thirteen days after the 24th Icelanders say goodbye to the Yule Lads and other mystical creatures such as elves and trolls. There are bonfires held throughout the country while the elves, Yule Lads, and Icelanders dance together before saying goodbye until the next Christmas. The major day of celebration in Norway, as in most of Northern Europe, is December Although it is legally a regular workday until Church bells chime in the Christmas holiday between In some families the Christmas story from Luke 2 will be read from the old family Bible.

The main Christmas meal is served in the evening. Many people also eat " lutefisk " or fresh, poached cod. Rice porridge is also popular but most commonly served as an early lunch rather than for the main Christmas dinner , an almond is often hidden in the porridge, and the person who finds it wins a treat or small gift. In some parts of Norway it is common to place porridge outside in a barn, outhouse or even in the forest to please "Nissen".

In many families, where the parents grew up with different traditions, two different main dishes are served to please everyone. If children are present and they have behaved well the last year , "Julenissen" Santa Claus pays a visit, otherwise gifts are stored under the Christmas tree. For a lot of Norwegians, especially families, television is an important part of the earlier hours of Christmas Eve.

Attending one of the many stage productions of Putti Plutti Pott and Santa's Beard is also a very popular tradition. December 25 is a very quiet and relaxed day. Church services are well attended. The old tradition of a very early morning service before breakfast has been replaced in most areas by a service in the later morning. Afterward many families get together for a large festive meal.

December 26 is also a day of many festivities. Cinemas, night clubs and bars are full, and there are lots of private gatherings and parties, where all kinds of traditional Christmas cookies and sweets are enjoyed. Fatty, tasty dinners are also part of it. During this time children in some parts of Norway dress up as "nisser" and go "Julebukk" — "Christmas goat" — in their neighbourhoods and sing Christmas carols to receive treats, much the same way as in the American Halloween. January 6 13th day of Christmas is commonly regarded as the end of Christmas, while some end Christmas on the 20th day, and some even at Candlemas.

The Yule season was a time for feasting, drinking, gift-giving, and gatherings, but also the season of awareness and fear of the forces of the dark. Swedish Christmas celebrations begin with the first of Advent. Saint Lucy's Day locally known as Luciadagen which is the first major Christmas celebration before Christmas itself. The eldest daughter arising early and wearing her Lucy garb of white robe, red sash, and a wire crown covered with whortleberry-twigs with nine lighted candles fastened in it awakens the family, singing "Santa Lucia", serving them coffee and saffron buns St.

Lucia buns , thus ushering in the Christmas season. Schools elect a Lucia and her maids among the students and a national Lucia is elected on national television from regional winners. The regional Lucias will visit shopping malls, old people's homes and churches, singing and handing out pepparkakor gingerbread cookies.

Boys take part in the procession as well, playing different roles associated with Christmas. Electric candles and glowing stars are placed in almost every window in the month of December in Sweden. Although December 25 juldagen is a Swedish public holiday , December 24 is the day when Santa Claus Jultomte or simply Tomte brings the presents. Although not a public holiday, Christmas Eve is a de facto holiday in the sense that most workplaces are closed, and those who work, for instance in shops or care homes, get extra wages as a compensation.

Public holidays in Sweden for further explanation of this concept. Add orange peels from 1 or 2 oranges , 3 to 4 cinnamon sticks, 1 tablespoon of whole cloves and 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract. If you want to get fancy you can add cranberries and some ginger. Bring the contents to a boil and then reduce the heat so it is left to simmer. Better yet, make oranges with cloves. Remember the less fortunate this Christmas. Another idea is to put together a shoebox filled with gifts for a needy child. Play Christmas games at the family holiday party.

For example, you can play Christmas Movie trivia and come up with questions for your favorite holiday movies. Here are some examples:. You can also sing a line from a Christmas song and have all the others try to guess what song it is, or play Christmas Bingo. Once your tree is all decked out, turn off the light and sit on the couch, just admiring the tree. Leave out cookies and milk for Santa Claus. When the ice melts, the reindeer can eat the carrots. Many families make an annual pilgrimage to the theatre to see it or, at least, they watch on it TV.

Stick to the Holiday recipes that your family knows and loves. Have a Christmas toast with home-made eggnog. As radio psychologist Dr. Hang up the Christmas Stockings. Fill them with simple stocking stuffers. Here are some ideas:. Put together a Christmas Village — a decorative, miniature-scale village often set up during the Christmas season. Add a new house or shop each year.

Throw a holiday party for a good cause. You can charge an entrance fee or have a box where people can donate whatever they want. You can take turns and have each person sitting around the dinner table read a small part. This Hub Page explains what to give for Christmas to families that are struggling financially. Make a list of your favorite Christmas quotes and post them up all around the house, or set aside a specific bulletin board for your quotes.

Record your favorite Christmas traditions for future generations of your family to follow. Take out your camera, start snapping pictures, and place them in a scrap book. Make sure to add notes. Create a new holiday tradition. One idea is to research what people from other countries do and adopt a foreign holiday tradition! Before opening gifts on Christmas Day, the Danish join hands with their family members and they form a chain around the Christmas tree.

Then, they walk around the tree in a ring, singing Christmas songs. You could consider adopting it. In addition, I discovered this year that the British have something called Christmas Crackers. A cracker is a small cardboard tube wrapped in decorative paper. The crackers can be placed next to each plate for Christmas dinner. They can also be placed in stockings, or they can even be used to decorate the Christmas tree. Make Christmas ornaments with your family and hang them up on your tree. Do something kind for an elderly neighbor, such as taking them Christmas shopping or helping them to hang up their Christmas lights.

The chain continued for hours. It started at 7: NORAD has placed Santa cams, high-speed digital cameras, at several locations around the world in order to capture images and videos of Santa and his reindeer as they make their journey around the world. Holiday Gifts for Self-Improvement Enthusiasts. Did you enjoy this article? Marelisa Fabrega is a lawyer and entrepreneur. You can learn more about her here.