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Holiday traditions around the world.


Aisling Ink
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I found this small article on the web, I found it very interesting as I love folklore and I can confirm the bit about the italian Befana.

 

So I was wondering, since this is an international forum and all, if somepony has some folkish tale to share about their own winter traditions.

 

Here is the article if you wanna read it:

 

Holiday Traditions from around the world

 

Germany
There is so much celebrating that it has to begin on December 6th, St. Nicholas Day. As in many other European countries, on the eve of Dec. 6th children place a shoe or boot by the fireplace. During the night, St. Nicholas, the patron saint of children, hops from house to house carrying a book of sins in which all of the misdeeds of the children are written. If they have been good, he fills the shoe or boot with delicious holiday edibles. If they have not been good, their shoe is filled with twigs.
Italy

On Christmas Eve, Italian children hang their stockings by the chimney where it remains empty until Jan. 6, the Befana day (also known as the Epiphany,) when the befana (during the night) fills it with sweets or coal, depending on whether the children were good or naughty. (The Befana is an old woman (witch) that flies on a broom; she is considered nice and kind.)

 

Spain

Christmas dinner is never eaten until after midnight. Christmas Day is spent at church, at feasts and in more merry-making. It is not Santa who comes to Spain bearing gifts, but the Three Wise Men.

 

Mexico

On Christmas Eve, small children dressed as shepherds stand on either side of the nativity scene while members of the company kneel and sing a litany, after which the Christ Child is lulled to sleep with the cradle song, "El Rorro" (Babe in Arms). At midnight the birth of Christ is announced with fireworks, ringing bells and blowing whistles. Devout worshipers surge into churches to attend the famous "Misa de Gallo" or "Mass of the Rooster." Following Mass, families return home for a tremendous dinner of traditional Mexican foods. Christmas Day has no special celebration though many have adopted the American style Christmas with a Christmas tree and Santa Claus.

 

France

Family celebrations begin with the decoration of the Christmas tree a few days before Christmas; candles and lights, tinsel and many colored stars are attached to it. On Christmas Eve when the children are asleep, little toys, candies and fruits are hung on the branches of the tree as a supplement to the gifts Santa Claus has left in the shoes before the fireplace. Puppet shows are also given every year for Christmas. At midnight everyone attends the Christmas mass. When the family returns home after midnight mass, there is a late supper known as "le réveillon." Ordinarily, young children do not attend midnight mass with their parents, but go to bed early to dream of their Christmas gifts. Before going to bed, they put their shoes by the fireside for a gift from "le père de Noël" or "le petit Jésus."

 

Japan

The Nativity scene is given a corner in every Christian house. They also have turkey for Christmas dinner, Christmas trees, evergreens and mistletoe in their stores and homes and even Hoeiosho, the Japanese equivalent of Santa Claus, who is a Buddhist monk bearing gifts for the children. The family members exchange gifts and send cards with the true heart of giving. Japan’s Christmas traditions for Japanese Christians are to spend the day for worship, and charity for the poor and sick. The children perform plays re-enacting the Nativity scene on Christmas Eve. Unique Christmas traditions of Japan are Christmas Cakes, Fried Chicken, and Daiku.

 

China

Christians in China celebrate by lighting their houses with beautiful paper lanterns and decorating their Christmas trees, which they call "Trees of Light," with paper chains, paper flowers, and paper lanterns. Chinese children hang muslin stockings and await a visit from Santa Claus, whom they call Dun Che Lao Ren (dwyn-chuh-lau-oh-run) which means "Christmas Old Man."

Edited by Aisling Ink
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the germany one sounds an awfull lot like "sinterklaas" we have here in the netherlands :P

didn't even know the germans celebrated that too.

 

 

I honestly didn't know either but, funnily enough, I found out a few days ago that in a village near mine (in north Italy) they have the same german celebration while in all the other villages we celebrate Saint Lucy on the 13 December. So weird.

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I've heard a few traditions. One includes "The Candle in the Window" and goes as follows ~ 

 

"The placing of a lighted candle in the window of a house on Christmas eve is still practised today. It has a number of purposes but primarily it was an symbol of welcome to Mary and Joseph as they travelled looking for shelter. 

The candle also indicated a safe place for priests to perform mass as, during Penal Times this was not allowed. 


A further element of the tradition is that the candle should be lit by the youngest member of the household and only be extinguished by a girl bearing the name 'Mary'."

Edited by Okeen
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In Ireland, I've seen a few traditions. One includes "The Candle in the Window" and goes as follows ~ 

 

"The placing of a lighted candle in the window of a house on Christmas eve is still practised today. It has a number of purposes but primarily it was an symbol of welcome to Mary and Joseph as they travelled looking for shelter. 

 

The candle also indicated a safe place for priests to perform mass as, during Penal Times this was not allowed. 

 

A further element of the tradition is that the candle should be lit by the youngest member of the household and only be extinguished by a girl bearing the name 'Mary'." (I'm still not entirely sure if this is only practiced in Ireland..)

 

The other traditional Gaelic salutation for Christmas is 

'Nollaig Shona Duit'

which is pronounced as 'null-ig hun-a dit'. 

 

That sounds like a wonderful tradition! Although I shall probably go and read something about Mary and Joseph D:

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Germany There is so much celebrating that it has to begin on December 6th, St. Nicholas Day. As in many other European countries, on the eve of Dec. 6th children place a shoe or boot by the fireplace. During the night, St. Nicholas, the patron saint of children, hops from house to house carrying a book of sins in which all of the misdeeds of the children are written. If they have been good, he fills the shoe or boot with delicious holiday edibles. If they have not been good, their shoe is filled with twigs.

 

Even though St. Nicholas Day is still celebrated, it's not as important as Christmas itself. It's part of what we call "Vorweihnachtszeit", the time before Christmas. In many towns, men dress up as St. Nicholas - or "Nikolaus", as we mostly call him - and his companion, "Knecht Ruprecht", to visit families, but mostly schools and churches, that day.

 

I always placed my shoes in front of the apartment door, unfortunately kid's shoes are damn small... And many kids here get more than just candy... And I never heard of someone whose parents were actually that mean to put twigs (or coals) in their shoes. :lol:

 

And then there's Christmas itself. Here we get our presents traditionally on the evening of Christmas Eve and they're brought by the "Christkind", the Christ(mas)child... you can't really translate that, I think. But Santa Claus has become quite popular in the last few years. Damn you, Coca-Cola...

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Even though St. Nicholas Day is still celebrated, it's not as important as Christmas itself. It's part of what we call "Vorweihnachtszeit", the time before Christmas. In many towns, men dress up as St. Nicholas - or "Nikolaus", as we mostly call him - and his companion, "Knecht Ruprecht", to visit families, but mostly schools and churches, that day.

 

I always placed my shoes in front of the apartment door, unfortunately kid's shoes are damn small... And many kids here get more than just candy... And I never heard of someone whose parents were actually that mean to put twigs (or coals) in their shoes. :lol:

 

And then there's Christmas itself. Here we get our presents traditionally on the evening of Christmas Eve and they're brought by the "Christkind", the Christ(mas)child... you can't really translate that, I think. But Santa Claus has become quite popular in the last few years. Damn you, Coca-Cola...

 

 

Oh I see, well I guess the same happened here in Italy as well. Like my grandparents from south Italy believed that presents were brought by Jesus (as a child). But I was raised mainly with Saint Lucy and Santa  Claus, la Befana (which is probably the most italian figure in our wintry folklore) is not too important anymore...It is rather sad for things to become so similar all over the world when there are so many great and different tales from all countries.

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the germany one sounds an awfull lot like "sinterklaas" we have here in the netherlands :P

didn't even know the germans celebrated that too.

Duitsers die sint vieren. Moet niet gekker worden XD

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Serbian Christmas is a few weeks later, because we use the Julian calendar. Also, 3 weeks before Christmas we have Detinjci, it's like a holiday when parents tie all the children with a rope, and children have to give them gifts in order to be untied. 2 weeks before Christmas we have Materice where the children tie their mother and get gifts from her. 1 week before Christmas we have Oci which is the same, except the father is the target.

 

We also don't use Christmas trees, we have badnjaks. That is like a bigger oak branch which we decorate with candies.

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Russian Orthodox uses the Julian calendar so the religious Christmas celebration is in January. But in the Soviet era when religious celebration was effectively banned, they started having huge celebrations on New Year's.  Then the USSR collapsed and Western influence seeped in, and many people celebrate on December 25th too.  Any excuse to have another party, right?  Russia's version of Santa Claus is Ded Moroz (Old Man Frost) and his granddaughter Snegurochka (the Snow Maiden).

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Serbian Christmas is a few weeks later, because we use the Julian calendar. Also, 3 weeks before Christmas we have Detinjci, it's like a holiday when parents tie all the children with a rope, and children have to give them gifts in order to be untied. 2 weeks before Christmas we have Materice where the children tie their mother and get gifts from her. 1 week before Christmas we have Oci which is the same, except the father is the target.

 

We also don't use Christmas trees, we have badnjaks. That is like a bigger oak branch which we decorate with candies.

 

That sure sounds weird D: I wonder if the whole tradition was born because parents never got presents from their kids or something xD

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That sure sounds weird D: I wonder if the whole tradition was born because parents never got presents from their kids or something xD

No, it's to symbolise family and unity, and those presents (that kids give) are usually small stuff, like candy or something. But when parents give it's like a videogame or something like that. It's a very old tradition actually.

 

 

Russia's version of Santa Claus is Ded Moroz

Serbian version is Deda Mraz for new year, and Bozhich Bata for Christmas :P

Edited by Drazha
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My Dad's side of the family are Italian immigrants and one tradition they brought with them was a traditional Christmas meal with 7 different seafood dishes each of them representing the different sacriments of the Catholic church. This is done every Christmas eve in the case of my family, since there are a few of the young ones who don't like alot of the seafood and its popular among the adults as well my aunt also makes Ma's Chicken as well which is chicken breasts pounded out flat and dipped in bread crumbs made from homemade Italian bread, garlic, oregano and pecorino parmigean cheese. Alot of other traditional foods are there as well like Biscotti's which are these hard cookies with almonds in them, lemon cookies, buttercream cookies, Pinalada (cookies and nuts dipped in honey), chocolate meatballs (choclate cookies with nuts and choclate chips in the middle topped with vanilla icing) Tiramisu, Cannoli's and a few other things.

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