Friday, December 10, 2010

Different Christmas Traditions Around the World

Recently Amazing Facts posted a blog, 20 Different Christmas Traditions from Around the World, and I thought I'd share a few of them here - but go read all 20, maybe add a new tradition into your mix this year.

In Swedenfamilies celebrate the Christmas holiday with various family-oriented traditions, beginning with attending church on the first Sunday of Advent. Children anxiously count down the days until Christmas using an Advent calendar. On Dec. 13, also known as St. Lucia's Day, Swedes celebrate the patron saint of light, in which the eldest daughter in a family dresses in a long white gown and serves coffee and treats to her family members. Many Swedish families pick out Christmas trees together one or two days before Christmas. They decorate the tree with an array of candies, glass ornaments, pinecones and figurine gnomes. A midday meal is served on Christmas Eve, in which families participate in the tradition of "dipping in the kettle," where each person dips their bread into a kettle of thin broth in remembrance of hard times when food was scarce. They follow with a smorgasbord of lutefisk and a variety of good eats.

In Russia, whether it's the solemn rituals and family togetherness, or the fact that Christmas celebrations were banned until 1992 after the 1917 Revolution, [they] hold Christmas very close to their hearts. Although Christmas celebrations are beginning to be replaced by the Festival of Winter, there are plenty of people who follow the old Russian traditions that stem from the Orthodox faith. Traditional Russian Christmases are centered on religious observation, in which families say special prayers and fast until Jan. 6 (Christmas Eve). Then, they have a bountiful 12-course meal called the "Holy Supper," which honors the Twelve Apostles. Christmas Day is celebrated on Jan. 7 and is traditionally a day for church services and a dinner that usually consists of goose and suckling pig.

Holland has many well-known Christmas traditions that center around Sinterklaas, who makes his appearance on St. Nicholas Day on Dec. 6. A red robed Sinterklaas atop a wheeled sleigh that's led by a white horse travels by ship from Spain to Amsterdam's harbor. He's greeted by the mayor and the people of Amsterdam when he arrives and he proceeds in a parade through the streets. It's tradition for Dutch families to celebrate St. Nicholas Eve at home with a feast and a letterbanket, which is a cake shaped into the first letter of the family's last name. At nighttime, children set their wooden shoes by the fireplace and fill them with hay and carrots for Sinterklaas' horse. Children tell their parents how good or bad they've behaved that year, and well-behaved kids will awake to nuts, candy and other gifts in their shoes.

Told you they were interesting and this is only a few, go check out the rest here on Amazing Facts.

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