Christmas is coming closer and everywhere you can already see signs of the most wonderful time of the year. Holiday lights are hung, Christmas markets pop up and spread the smell of punch and gingerbread and people are busy with buying presents. But Christmas is not celebrated everywhere the same – each country has its own traditions that make the holiday season special.
In Slovakia, on the 4th December they celebrate the St. Barbara Day. On this day, young girls put cherry branches into the water. When they blossom on Christmas Eve, it means that they will have luck in love next year.
World famous is certainly the 6th December. In many European countries it is celebrates as the day of Saint Nicholas. On the eve of that day, children place their shoes on the window sill or in front of the door and find chocolate, nuts and fruit in them the next day. If they were naughty, though, they will find only coals.
Especially in Sweden, the 13th December is very important. On this day, the Saint Lucia is celebrated. In the past, this day was considered to be the shortest of the year and therefore a sort of was celebrated. Early in the morning the youngest or oldest girl of the family puts on a white dress with a red ribbon and wears a garland of lights on the head. While singing the traditional Saint Lucia song, she brings their family members coffee, “Glogg” (a type of mulled wine) and “Lussekatter” (a bun with saffron) to the bed.
In Mexico, the Christmas celebrations begin on 15th December with the “Posadas”. The Posadas are nine days that represent the search for shelter of Mary and Joseph from Nazareth to Bethlehem. The first day is celebrated with smashing a “piñata” (a figure made of papier-mâché filled with sweets) and drinking “Ponche” (like a hot punch).
Those who thought that the whole world celebrates Christmas on the 24th December were totally wrong. In Georgia, Macedonia, Ethiopia and Egypt they celebrate it on the 7th January. Even Santa Claus does not bring all the gifts. In the Basque Country, a char burner called “Olentzero” brings the presents, in Portugal it is the “Menino Jesus” (Baby Jesus) and in Chile it is “Pasquero Viejo” (old shepherd) who gives the presents to the people.
As you can see, Christmas has many faces, but always a same core remains – to bring joy to the people, to celebrate together and to spend time with the loved ones.
Ps: Do not forget to place your shoes by the window or in front of the door tonight, perhaps Saint Nicholas brings you candy this year … or coals! 😉