Why do people have to kiss when they meet under the mistletoe? Let’s learn the most famous Christmas traditions together.
Christmas traditions around the world are so different and unpredictable.
For example, Swedish Christmas traditions include erecting a statue of a large Goat made of straw and setting it on fire. The Goat is usually guarded, that’s why people have to dress as Santa Clauses and elves to ignite it.
Christmas traditions in France are mostly famous for Christmas Cuisine, especially Christmas Buche de Noel Cake (“Bûche de Noël”).
The traditional Christmas desserts in France will never be complete without it. The Christmas meal in France is called, “le Reveillon”. It’s a large meal with soup or some other appetizer, followed by an unusual cake (it is called ‘A Christmas Log’ in English) and a cheese platter. The also prefer goose and other exotic poultry. The meal is usually accompanied by wine.
German Christmas traditions are widely known for the 6th of December – it’s Nikolaustag (St. Claus Day). On the eve of Nikolaustag children leave a boot or a shoe outside their bedroom door. In the morning, they get candies or small toys in them. “Bad” children got a golden birch in the shoe.
In Germany, in the 16th-century people decorated indoor and outdoor trees with apples, roses, candies, and paper toys. A fir tree decorated with apples symbolized the Paradise Tree in the Garden of Eden.
Martin Luther was the first to decorate trees with light. Stars shining through the branches of fir trees in the forest inspired him to create this effect on small home fir trees. He used usual candles to do it.
The first Christmas tree appeared in England with the help of Prince Albert – Queen Victoria’s husband. He got it from his native in Germany. Pennsylvania Germans brought this tradition to America in the end of the 19th century.
There is a legend about a kindly nobleman who lost all his fortune after a tragic death of his wife. He had two young and beautiful daughters. They couldn’t get married because they were poor
However, generous St. Nicholas heard the girls’ prayers and helped them. Anonymously, he rode his horse to the girl’s house and threw three pouches filled with gold coins into the chimney. The pouches accidentally fell into the stockings. They were put next to the fireplace to get dried.
Druid priests used the Mistletoe in their rituals 200 years before Christ was born. They honored the plant because it had no roots yet it always remained green no matter how cold the winter was.
Celtic people believed that mistletoe produced some magical powers – it could be used as an antidote and helped to get rid and stay protected from the evil spirits, it could heal the wounds and make you healthier. This plant has always been a symbol of peace. The Roman tradition said, that if enemies meeting under the mistletoe had to lay down the weapons and embrace each other.
Scandanavians associated mistletoe with the goddess of love – Frigga. Kissing under the mistletoe was a sign of constant luck and happiness all the following year.
Christmas around the world
It’s one of the greatest celebrations of the Christian faith. Not only Christians like to celebrate Christmas. It has spread everywhere and developed lots of Christmas traditions around the world. The dates of Christmas celebration vary in different parts of the world. It can be celebrated for a week or for the whole month. Let’s get a general glimpse on some Christmas holiday traditions all around the world.
It’s 6th of December and it’s time for Saint-Nicholas to be celebrated. This celebration is a lot different from usual Christmas. People in Belgium call Santa Claus “de Kerstman” or “Père Noël”. He is the one to give presents on Christmas morning.
Christmas foods around the world can be very different. For example, Belgians prepare a special Christmas sweet bread called, “Cou Gn Olle”. Its shape should remind the body of the newborn Jesus.
French people call it “Noël”. They get a Christmas tree and decorate it with red ribbons and real white candles. They even decorate the trees in the garden or in the street with lights and traditional candles.
Father Christmas’ name in France is “Père Noël”. French people spend Christmas celebration with a rich family meal and wine. The don’t send as many Christmas cards as Americans do. They usually send cards to wish good luck in the New Year. The meal usually starts with for is grass (pate made from goose liver. Seafood goes next (lobsters and oysters). The indoor decorations are minimal.
Germans absolutely adore decorations. They put electric candles in the windows with colorful plastic and paper pictures. They also make the so-called ‘Adventskranz’ – wreaths made of leaves and four candles. This way they mark the 4 week period before Christmas.
Father Christmas also has got a special name there – “Der Weihnachtsmann”. He brings presents in the afternoon after all the Christians visit the church. All the family members find their presents under the traditional fir tree.
Christmas here usually starts with presents hidden under a fir tree in the morning. Then there’s a lunch with family. Turkey or chicken is usually served. Then everyone has tea and invites friends for a barbecue. The family gets together with friends and a nice delicious meal with wine or beer!
Christmas around the world home parties is truly different. Christmas was not popular in times of the Soviet Union. The Russians celebrated the New Year – the night when ‘Father Frost’ carries his huge sack with presents for children. Christmas became popularized after the fall of Communism. It’s celebrated now on January 7th. The Russian Orthodox church decided to use the ‘Julian’ calendar to note the religious celebrations. Russian New Year and Christmas foods include Olivier salad, sparkling wine with baked chicken or turkey.
The New Year Tree is crucial for the Russians. All the presents, sweets, and toys are kept there during the celebration. It’s usually a very tall fir tree up to the ceiling.