Christmas is a wonderful time of year and is celebrated all over the world as a time of sharing, giving and love. Christmas Customs and Traditions may vary around the world but the sentiments are the same. Many Christmas customs and Traditions began long before the birth of Jesus and came from earlier festivals held in mid-winter when days were at their shortest, it was believed that the celebrations would give strength back to the sun and hasten the arrival of Spring. For example the Romans celebrated the Festival of Saturnalia around the 25th December and they decorated their homes with evergreens at this time to remind them of Saturn, their Harvest God and it was a time of feasting and parties. In the northern countries of Europe was the festival of the Yule, great logs were burnt and danced around while they called for Winter to end. Although Christmas is a Christian Holiday, many other faiths celebrate the secular aspects of the holiday season, such as decorating their houses, the giving of gifts and putting up of Christmas trees. It is the feeling of love that ties the people of the world together at this time. The Jewish festival of Hanukkah, the festival of light, is celebrated around this time. Hanukkah last for eight days and starts on the 25th of Kivlev. The Jewish calandar is lunar and the month of Kivlev is roundabout the same time as December. Hanukkah is also a time for the giving and receiving of gifts and the bringing together of families. In Africa and African culture the seven day festival of Kwanzaa is celebrated. Kwanzaa begins on the 26th of December and lasts up to 1st January. During Kwanzaa coloured candles are lit each night in a holder called a kinara, similar to the menorah in the Jewish , Hanukah, and again the theme of Kwanzza is unity and bringing together of people.
As people travel more widely these days and settle in other countries they bring their own customs and traditions with them which are then adopted and used in the new countries. We are not losing our customs but are enjoying new ones that we will pass on. Christmas cards are sent world wide, Christmas trees are decorated in most lands. Candles light up houses and bring a special warmth all over the world. Churches are filled with people celebrating midnight mass and carols are sung in all the tongues of the earth., and whether it is Father Christmas, Santa Claus, Weihnachtsmann, Sinterklass, Saint Nicolaus, Dun Che Lao Ren, Julemanden, Pere Noel or Tomte, he certainly puts a lot of smiles on the faces of children everywhere, so a very big THANK YOU whoever you are.
Christmas Customs and Traditions in the U.K. As in most places, the lead up to Christmas is the busiest time of the year. Shops are packed with people looking for gifts and butchers and greengrocers shops are bursting at the seams with all the special things that we all ‘need’ to have for the feastive season. At the begining of December children start the big count down by opening the Advent calendars, which normally contain a small chocolate behind each day’s window. Christmas cards are written to just about everyone we know and letters to Father Christmas are written and sent with their wishes for special presents and promises that they will be good, ALL year next year, and that they are sure that they have been ‘quite ‘ good this year. The children are also kept busy in school learning lines for the Nativity play normally put on and practising for carol concerts which they hope all their family will attend! After all the baking has been done and all the presents are wrapped and the last shop has shut it is CHRISTMAS EVE!!! Hurray! excited children hang up their stockings, the bigger the better! and are then ushered up to bed because if Father Christmas sees that they are still awake NO presents, so for once off they go leaving their parents to enjoy a well earned drink in front of the lit up Christmas tree and put their feet up before the hectic, early start that tomorrow will surely bring. The main day arrives and still tired parents are awoken to the squeals and screams of their offspring opening their presents at the end of the beds. Cooking the Christmas dinner normally begins even before breakfast. Huge turkeys are stuffed into ovens and heaps of vegetables are prepared, and Christmas puddings are steaming away for hours, there is enough to feed the five thousand, just in case anyone ‘ drops in’ unexpectedly. Adults exchange gifts at a more reasonable hour and wrapping paper fills every bin available. Christmas dinner is normally early afternoon, either before or just after the Queen’s speech at three o’clock. After a’ heaving table full of food’ mum is back in the kitchen warming mince pies and making sandwiches of cold turkey and pickle. It is lots of work but Oh so worth it!! Boxing Day is a quieter affair watching old films on the T.V or visiting relatives and mainly recovering from the activities of the last month, only another eleven months before we do it all again.
German and Austrian Christmas customs and traditions. Many of the Christmas traditions that are enjoyed throughout Europe stem from Germany such as the all important Christmas tree – Tannenbaum – that takes pride of place in our living rooms and which we take great care to decorate with trinkets, baubles, tinsel and lights. From Austria we have the most well known of all Christmas Carols, Silent Night, without which Christmas would not be complete. In German and Austrian households the Christmas season begins with the start of Advent at which time the Advent wreath is made from pine branches and then decorated before adding the four candles, usually three white and one red. A candle is lit each week until the last one at Christmas. A lot of baking goes on throughout the lead up to Christmas, Stollen, Lebkuchen biscuits and an array of biscuits made with spices or ground nuts. Beautifully ornate gingerbread houses are baked and decorated with sweets and icing.. In towns and cities throughout Germany and Austria there have long been the special Weinhachtsmarkt, Christmas Markets, at which the decorated wooden stalls sell a great variety of gifts, foods, and novelties to the sounds of Christmas music and the smell of grilled bratwurst and the spicy aroma of Gluhwein which is served to keep out the cold on a snowy winter evening. The 6th of December sees the arrival of Sankt Nicolaus with his friend the ‘Krampus’. Sankt Nicolaus brings sweets, fruits and nuts for children who have been good and fills their shoes with these goodies but if they have not been exactly ‘good’ then the Krampus will leave a bunch of twigs to remind them to try harder! Children open the windows of their Adventskalender each day looking forward to Christmas Eve and the coming of the Christkindl who will bring presents for all good children. Traditionally the door of the main living room will remain locked until after the family meal of Christmas Eve when a bell will sound heralding the arrival of the Christkind. Children excitedly go and see what has been going on behind locked doors, there is the Christmas tree and presents which they can now open.
Dutch Christmas Customs and Traditions. In Holland the day the children most look forward to is St.Nicolaus Day when Sinterklaas will reward them for being good all year! or they will receive a rod from his companion Zwarte Peit -Black Peter. Sinterklaas arrives by boat from Madrid, where he lives, dressed in his red bishop’s robes trimmed with white fur and travels into the city or town leading a great procession on his white horse. Sinterklaas arrives in a different city each year so that as many children as possible will get to see him although he will also be helped by friends dressed in the same clothes as himself . On the night of the 5th December children leave their shoes or boots out to be filled with presents. Many people hold parties on St.Nicholaus Eve and special biscuits and cakes are baked in honour of the occasion. On the 6th December there is the exchanging of gifts, these are often disguised so that the contents are not known until they are opened, larger presents will be hidden and can only be found with the aid of clues. Christmas Day is a much quieter affair with families attending mass and singing carols. Children hope that maybe the Christmas Man from Lapland will also bring them something on this day.
French Christmas Customs and Traditi0ns. Although there are some small differences in the various regions of France, the main traditions are the same and as in many countries they have their own special Christmas Cake the Buche de Noel, a rich chocolate cake baked in the shape of a yule log. The yule log was traditionally burnt in the hearth from Christmas Eve to New Year to ensure a good harvest and good luck in the coming year. Although the Christmas tree is not quite as popular in France as in other countries, French homes are still decorated and the pride of place is taken by the Nativity Scene -crèche- revolving around the crib, to which figures are added during the lead up to Christmas. Many of these figures are very ornate and are sold in Christmas shops and markets around France. On Christmas Eve after Midnight mass there is a great family meal called Le Reveillon. This late meal will vary with the regions of France, but will all be very lavish. On Christmas Eve French children will leave their shoes out in the hope of having them filled by Pere Noel by the time they wake up on Christmas morning, he will also have been busy decorating the tree with sweets, fruits, nuts and little gifts during the night. La fête de Saint Nicolas on the 6th December heralds the start of the Christmas season for children in Northern France, while in Lyons La Fête de lumières (The festival of lights.) on the 8th December has candles burning to honour Our Lady in every window. France is, of course, famous for its food and it does not disappoint us at Christmas time, with a huge array of candied fruits, biscuits, cakes and breads. Meats and regional dishes vary around the country and are all showcased for the festive season
Italian Christmas Customs and Traditions. The Christmas season in Italy revolves around the Christian aspect of the festival. Italy has many unique customs and traditions and although in these modern times when customs from other countries are also adopted Italy still holds dear these special customs. The Christmas season begins on the 8th December with the feast of the Immaculate Conception, beautiful ‘Presepe’ -Cribs- are set up in churches and homes around Italy and it is around these that will be the focus of Christmas. The main feastival begins on the 24th December and will last until 6th January, Epiphany. These dates go back to the Roman times which started with Saturnalia a winter solstice festival and ended with the Roman New Year the Calands. Today the Holy season is started with the firing of a canon from the Castle of St.Angelo in Rome. In the lead up to Christmas children will go from house to house singing carols and poems, homes of Carpenters will be visited to honour St.Joseph. In the week before Christmas they dress up as shepherds and receive money for singing so that they can buy presents. Unlike other countries children do not make wish lists for Father Christmas, but instead theym write letters of love to their parents which are read out after the meal on Christmas Eve. Prior to the meal of Christmas Eve, the Cenone, people fast strictly for 24 hours, the meal will be quite lavish and will vary from region to region. On Christmas day, at noon, the Pope will read out his Christmas blessing to those gathered in St.Peters Square. Children do not receive their presents at Christmas but have to wait until the 6th January when the witch, La Befana fills their stockings, although Bobbo Natale will also help in this task. The story behind La Befana is that she was too late when she went to visit Jesus in the manger and therefore she now visits all the houses where there are children just in case Jesus should be there. Another tradition in Italy is the Urn of Fate, this is a decorative bowl in which there are presents for all the family, when everyone is gathered together they all draw out their respective gift
Polish Christmas Customs and Traditions. Christmas, or Wigilia, is a very important time of the year and has many ancient traditions still observed today. Days before Christmas begins Polish women will start to clean their homes completely, it is believed that if your home is dirty at Wigilia then it will remain dirty all through the coming year. Like many other countries 6th December, St.Nicholaus brings’ Mikolaj’ filling up the shoes of children with sweets, fruits and small gifts. The Christmas tree is traditionally decorated on Wigilia Day with the children. The tree is decorated using fruits, sweets and nuts wrapped in colourful foil paper, and homemade decorations. There is a strict 24 hour fast before the meal on Christmas Eve which can not begin until the first star appears in the sky. Before the meal can begin the head of the family will break the Oplatek, a wafer prepared from flour and water and, today, sold in religious shops, although formerly distributed through the parish. Once broken the Oplatek is shared out with all the members of the family. A polish Christmas Eve meal will always consist of 12 dishes, although none of them will contain meat. The Twelve dishes represent the twelve apostles and there is always an extra place set at the dinner table in case the Holy Spirit or a stranger drops by and joins them. The main dish will be fried carp, other dishes will consist of borscht, Uszka, fish soup, potato salad and fried dumplings, the family will then attend midnight mass – Pasterka, mass of the shepherds . On Christmas day everyone sits down and rests there is no cooking only prepared food that may need heating up is eaten. The 26th December is known as Holy Szczepan, or St. Stephen’s Day, this day is known as the second holidayand is spent visiting family, the evening will see carol singers visiting from house to house.
Norweigian Christmas customs and traditions. The Christmas season starts early in Norway and November sees the begining of the party season both for adults and children alike. At the end of November in the cities, there are the City ceremonies of the lights complete with parades. Four weeks before Christmas Norweigians make their advent wreaths with the four candles, one to be lit each week until all four are lit on Christmas Day. Children start to open their Christmas calendars, containing small sweets or chocolates. Advent is also the start of the Christmas concerts. On the 23rd December – Little Christmas Eve – the family get together to decorate the house and the Christmas tree with white lights and often hand-made decorations made out of paper or straw. Fruits, nuts, home-baked ginger biscuits and sweets are also used as tree ornaments. Small paper bowls filled with sweets are placed around. At around 4pm the church bells will ring out on Christmas Eve signalling the start of Christmas, shops and Businesses close and the first church service of Christmas begins. Christmas Eve Dinner is a rich meal consisting of Ribs, Ham, Lutefisk (dried Cod), sausage, a variety of vegatables and cranberry sauce all accompanied by a warming glass of Glogg. After dinner Julenisse comes to the house to hand out the presents to the children but not until they have sung a carol to him. The family then exchange gifts and spend the evening singing carols and playing games. Christmas Day is the first day of Christmas in Norway, and there follows the 20 days of Juletid. The day is spent going to mass and then visiting family. The extended family come together for a festive meal later on in the day. 26th December or Andre Juledag is also a public holiday and from now until New Year is spent quietly relaxing. New Years Eve sees parties, barbaques and fireworks as people come together to see in the New Year. The 20th day of Christmas, and the last, is 13th January and this is the day when all the decorations and Christmas trees are taken done put away and the trees chopped up for firewood .
Swedish Christmas Customs and Traditions. As the Christmas season begins in Sweden it is dark, cold and blanketed in snow which makes it all the more cosy inside. Children begin to open their Advent calendars from the first of December, behind the windows they are rewarded with small sweets and chocolates. Advent wreaths are made with four candles one for each of the four Sundays of Advent. The first Sunday of Advent is the day most Swedes go to church and is a start to the celebrations. On the 13th December, St.Lucia’s Day, the eldest daughter of the household gets up before dawn and dresses in a long white dress and wears a crown with candles (nowadays battery operated lights for safety reasons!) she will bring coffee and buns to her parents and the rest of the household in bed., often a younger siste or brother will lend a hand. The Christmas tree is normally only brought into the house a day of two before Christmas and often the whole family will go out together to choose it. The tree is decorated with traditional decorations, shiny red paper-mache apples, small straw goats (Julbokar), white tree lights, small swedish flags, pine cones, glass ornaments, wrapped sweets and little gnomes wearing long pointed red hats. The Christmas Eve dinner is a wonderful smorgesbord of food including Lutefisk, Hams, sausages, potato and beetroot salads, herring salad, Jellied pig’s feet, pumpernickel bread, and a variety of sweets including rice pudding which contains one almond, it is said that whoever finds the almond will marry in the coming year. After dinner the Christmas tree lights are lit in readiness for the Jultomten or Tomte, the Christmas gnome, who arrives on his sleigh pulled by the Julbokar, Christmas Goat, who will bring the presents. After the opening of the presents, the family hold hands and dance around the tree singing a special song, this is also a custom that is observed in Norway. Attending mass on Christmas day is done very early in the morning and all the windows have candles shining out. Tradition has it that the first one to reach the church will have the best harvest the following year. The spirit of Christmas continues until 14th January, St.Knut’s Day, on this day the trees and decorations are taken down and the children are allowed to eat all the goodies that have survived on the tree. The day is often turned into a great occasion with the youngsters dressing up as “old Knut” and playing practical jokes.
Finnish Christmas Customs and Traditions. Finland is, of course, the home of Father Christmas, all children know that he lives in Rovaniemi, Finland which is very close to Lapland . Lapland is full of Reindeers so Father Christmas has no trouble finding some to pull his sleigh. The children of Finland are very lucky as they are first on the list for getting their presents on Christmas Eve. As in the other Scandinavian countries, the 13th December, St.Lucia’s Day is celebrated. For days before Christmas houses are cleaned in readiness for the celebrations and Christmas Eve breakfast is hot creamy rice pudding to keep out the cold. After breakfast the children will go with their father to pick a tree while their mother finishes off any shopping still needing to be done. All the shops close at midday. Often families will go to the sauna and then put on clean clothes ready for dinner which is served in the evening. Joulupukki, Father Christmas, calls by either just before or just after dinner with his elves and distributes his presents, children sing songs to him before he leaves to see to the other children around the world. Sadly Father is normally missing as he has his Christmas chores to do around this time!. Dinner will include Luskfish (cod soaked in Lye), hams, mashed potatoes, vegetables, plum tarts and berry puddings. Families also visit the cemetery during the evening to leave a lighted candle for those who are no longer able to join them. Christmas Day starts early with Christmas church services often starting at around 6am. The rest of the day is spent at home with the immediate family. On the 26th Visits are made to relatives and friends. Star boys will travel around the towns singing carols.
Danish Christmas Customs and Traditions. Preparing for Christmas in Denmark begins with the arrival of Advent. First there is the Advent Wreath made traditionally from spruce twigs and decorated with berries and ribbons and the four candles . One candle is lit the first Sunday of Advent, two the second and so on. Children start to open their advent calendars and the advent candle, which is marked into 24 sections down its length, is lit at the breakfast table each morning. Outdoor Christmas trees are lit up with strings of white lights and the interiors of the houses are slowly decorated through December, many of the decorations will be hand-made by the family getting together for a day set aside for exactly this task. One of the main features of the decorations are the ‘Nisser’, these are mischievious little elves who, through the year live in the lofts of barns and help out on farms but at this time of the year they like to play practical jokes not just in Sweden but all over Scandinavia. The Nisse wears A red hat and socks, grey clothes and white shoes and to stop his pranks must be fed bowls of rice pudding, so many bowls are left outside to appease them around Denmark. Birds. too, are not forgotten at this time and wheat sheaths and seeds are left in the gardens for them. Windows are lit up with candles giving off a welcoming glow to passers-by. Baking is a family affair and although Mother may already have the dough ready in the fridge everyone has to help out with rolling, cutting, shaping and of course the all important tasting! Heaps of biscuits must be made, butter cookies, gingerbread, vanilla biscuits and peppernoder no-one must go without and guests always leave with a plate full of these delicious biscuits. Children will also help out with the making of sweets made from mazipan, nuts and fruits, these will be used to decorated the tree as well. Outside the Town Hall in Copenhagen a tree is erected and adorned with lights each year, this is the biggest Christmas tree in the world and is cut and brought from Gribskov outside Hillerød in Northen Zealand. The Christmas trees inside the homes, although a little smaller, are nonetheless just as beautiful but are not put up until Christmas Eve, Juleaften. The night before Christmas Eve, known as little Christmas Eve, lille Juleaften, is spent doing all the last minute things that need doing and is the busiest day. All the baking and preparations for the Christmas Eve dinner are done today. At four O’Clock on Christmas Eve the church bells ring out signalling the start of Christmas. The family attend the candlelit mass before the evening meal which is traditionally roast goose or duck, stuffed with apples, served with red cabbage and roast potatoes. Steaming, hot rice pudding, with the one almond ( whoever finds this will marry next year), and red fruit sauce are served for dessert. After dinner the Julemand, Father Christmas, arrives with the presents. The family sing carols and dance around the Christmas tree holding hands and when this is finished the children are at long last allowed to open their presents. Christmas Day is quieter, only the children will get up early to play with their presents. The day is spent as a family at home. The 26th is often spent visiting relatives and friends.
Spanish Christmas Customs and Traditions. Christmas in Spain, Navidad, is a deeply religious festive celebration and begins on the 8th December with the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. This begins a week-long observance of the feast. This day is celebrated each year outside the Gothic cathedral in Seville with a ceremony called los Seises or the “dance of six, which is actually performed by 10 young men. It is a beautiful dance with exact movements and gestures. Homes and churches throughout Spain are decorated with evergreen, Lamps, flags and the all important nacimientos, cribs, in public places these often include life-sized figures. Nacimientos also include figures of the three wise men, much beloved by Spanish children, as they bring the presents on the 6th January, Epiphany. Market stalls in the towns groan under the displays of fruits, flowers, marzipans, sweets and gifts. On Christmas Eve, La Noche Buena, when the first star shows in the sky, oil lamps are lit throughout Spain and placed in the windows or on balconies along with the candles already burning there. In the town squares and in front of the churches there are bonfires burning and plays, called Las Pastores depict the shepherds coming to visit the baby Jesus. In the streets there are dancers dancing the Jota, a special Christmas dance, there is musical accompaniment with castanets and guitars. People play on swings, set up especially for this time, it is believed that by swinging they will ecourage the sun to swing higher in the sky. The church bells ring out for Midnight mass, “La Misa Del Gallo” (Rooster’s Mass) and families gather together to attend. There has been a strict 24 hour fast leading up to midnight mass and afterwards hurry home to enjoy the family feast. The dinner usually consists of Almond soup, “Pavo Trufado de Navidad” (Christmas turkey with truffles), or another roast meat, red cabbage and pumpkin. Another traditional Christmas treat is turron, an almond delicacy. The festivities go on long into the night, the Spanish say that “Esta noche es Noche-Buena, Y no es noche de dormir” (Tonight is the blessed night,and it is not meant for sleeping.) Christmas day is a quiet day spent with immediate family and family reunions, small gifts may also be exchanged today. On the eve of January the 6th, Epiphany, children believe that the Three Wise Men wander around the country on their donkeys. They leave straw in their shoes for the animals and hope that in the morning, when the straw has gone it will be replaced with presents for them. During the day there will be parades where sweets and cakes will be handed out to the children .
Portuguese Christmas Customs and Traditions. The focus of the Christmas celebrations in Portugal is the crib which depicts the birth of Jesus, which often contains elaborate figures of the holy family and the shepherds and the three wise men. Many families attend the Midnight Mass (called “Missa do Galo”) after which they will return home for the Christmas Eve dinner, “Ceia de Natal”. , this normally consists of cod fish, potatoes and cabbage, there will also be a wonderful selection of cakes, biscuits and sweets on offer. In the morning there is the Christmas feast named “Consoda”, there is always an extra place set for ‘alminhas a penar’ (“the souls of the dead”), this is believed to bring them good luck over the coming year. On the eve of the Epiphany, the 6th of January, children will fill their shoes with straw and carrots for the horses of the Three Wise Men in the hope that this will tempt the animals to them and then the straw will be replaced with presents.
Hungarian Christmas Customs and Traditions, In Hungary Advent signals the begining of Christmas with the advent wreaths with the four candles to be lit on the four Sundays of advent. On the eve of St.Nicolaus on the 6th of December the children will leave out their shoes to be filled with fruit, nuts and small gifts from’Mikulás’. Christmas is a two-day holiday and is, in the main a family festival. The Christmas tree is not decorated until Holy Evening, Christmas Eve.The main Christmas meal, which is also eaten on Christmas eve, consists of fish and cabbage and a special kind of poppy bread called ‘Beigli’. The children believe that the angels bring and decorate the tree and the gifts. After the meal the angels will ring the bell signalling that the children may come to see what they have left for them. Midnight mass is very popular and is attended by the whole family after their evenings celebrations. Christmas day is usually spent quietly with the family.
Chinese Christmas Customs and Traditions. There is only a small percent of Chinese who are Christians and therefore celebrate Christmas. Christmas is called Sheng Dan Jieh, which means Holy Birth Festival. Families put up Christmas trees, normally artificial and are called “Trees of light”, and decorate them with paper lanterns and paper chains. Chinese children will hang up stockings for “Dun Che Lao Ren”, the Christmas Old Man” or ” Lan Khoong-Khoong”, “Nice Old Father” on Christmas Eve. The season of Christmas is ushered in with fireworks and entertainers and people enjoy it with feasting and parties. On Christmas Eve many people have parties or have a festive dinner at home or at a restaurant. Midnight mass is also becoming popular
Christmas Customs and Traditions of the U.S.A. The U.S.A. is a melting pot of nationalities and therefore has a wealth of traditions that it has made its own. Homes, Churches, Malls and cities are filled with decorations, Christmas trees and Christmas lights. In the U.S.A. it is Santa Claus that brings the presents to all good children on Christmas morning, the name Santa Claus originates from St.Nicolaus and the Dutch word Sinterklaas, who was a bishop and wore red robes trimmed with white fur. Santa Claus will be seen in all the major shops and malls giving children the chance ton have a word with him personnally to let him know that they have been very good and what they would like for Christmas. Celebrations around America vary greatly with the regions but the sentiments of families coming together and the giving and receiving of gifts are the same. Christmas carols feature greatly at this time. America has produced many great Christmas films which are watched and enjoyed by children all over the world. In Washington D.C., a huge, spectacular tree is lit ceremoniously when the President presses a button and turns on the tree’s lights. American homes are decorated with holly and mistletoe and the trees are trimmed with lights, baubles, candy canes and strings of popcorn, the outside of the houses are often decorated with lights and illuminated figures are often seen around the gardens. Christmas Eve sees many families going to Midnight mass which begins the Christmas celebrations. Christmas morning children excitedly open their presents before the family Christmas dinner. Christmas dinner normally consists of Roast Turkey or Goose, served with vegetables, cranberry sauce followed by plum pudding and brandy sauce with mince pies. In Arizona they follow the tradition of Mexico called Las Posadas in which they play out the parts of Joseph and Mary looking for somewhere to stay. They will visit the homes of their neighbours and friends to admire their Nativity scenes and in New Mexico paper lanterns will light the way for the Christ Child. In Hawaii Santa arrives in a boat and Christmas dinner may be eaten outdoors, in Colorado a huge star is illuminated on top of a mountain and can be seen for many miles, In Alaska a star is tied on to a pole and carried from door to door while Herods men try to capture it, Polish Americans place hay on their kitchen floor to remind them that Jesus was born in a stable. It is this diversity that makes Christmas in the U.S.A. so interesting and unique.
Australian Christmas Customs and Traditions. Unlike Europe and a lot of America, Christmas in Australia will not be a ‘white Christmas’ as it is right in the middle of the summer. As temperatures in Sydney can hit 100 at this time of the year it is not unusual to see families eating their Christmas dinners on the beach! Bondi Beach is a popular holiday destination for the Christmas period and many people fill the camping grounds around this area. Australians will decorate their houses with palm leaves, branches and small red flowers. Bright, sweet smelling flowers will fill their homes and there will also be the traditional European Christmas wreaths. During the lead up to Christmas there are nativity plays and carol concerts to attend. The traditional Christmas dinner will usually be a Roast Turkey with roast potatoes and vegetables followed with brandy flamed plum pudding and white sauce, but it could just as easily be a ‘Barbie’ or a picnic on the beach. On Christmas Eve people from all over the city gather together to attend the ‘Carols by Candlelight’ concert, they listen and join in with, the Christmas Carols and believe Christmas would not be complete without this tradition. Like the British, the Australians celebrate Boxing Day on the 26th December and the Christmas season ends on Twelfth night with parties and dinners.
Irish Customs and Traditions. Christmas celebrations begin on the 6th December, St.Nicolas, and end on the 6th of January, Epiphany. The Christmas tree is normally put up and decorated before Advent starts, and a star or angel will sit on the top. At Christmas Eve after the evening meal, a tall candle is placed in the window sill to mlight the way for the Holy Family and the table is re-laid with bread and a jug of milk and the door left unlocked as a sign of hospitality. The churches are packed to capacity at Midnight mass, carols are sung, often accompanied by live music. It is at this mass that people who have not seen each other for a while will catch up on any news and wish each other a Happy Christmas, every member of the family will attend mass. Christmas dinner will traditionally consist of roast turkey or goose, potatoes and vegetables followed by Christmas pudding and Christmas cake. The 26th December, St.Stephan’s Day is a gtreat day in Ireland with football matches and horse racing, the races in Leopardstown, Dublin attract almost 20,000 every year. On St.Stephan’s Day there is also the procession of the wren, people carry a stick with holly on the top (at one time there would also be a wren on the stick) they then go around the houses asking for money for the poor wren. On Christmas day there is also the Forty Foot swim at Forty Foot Rock near Dublin. Other places also have their own swim but the one at Forty Foot Rock is the most well know and attracts hundred of people in the early morning jumping off the rocks into the cold waters! Not a good idea for the faint hearted. On the 6th January all the Christmas decorations are taken down it is considered bad luck to take them down before this.
I loved the hotel. The breakfast was amazing and the location is perfect. There are a number of excellent towns near by that are definitely with the visitBy: Anthony Mullis - Submitted March 3, 2016 at 9:28 am
|Travel Date: June 10, 2015 Traveled with: Families with Infants||Best for: Families with Young Kids Operator: Other|