Christmas around the world

Germay

Christmas Trees are very important in Germany. They were first used in Germany during the Middle Ages. If there are young children in the house, the trees are usually secretly decorated by the mother of the family. The Christmas tree was traditionally brought into the house on Christmas eve. In some parts of Germany, during the evening the family would read the Bible and sing Christmas songs such as O Tannenbaum, Ihr Kinderlein Kommet and Stille Nacht.

When the first Christians came to Western Europe, some tried to ban the use of Mistletoe as a decoration in Churches, but many still continued to use it! York Minster Church in the UK used to hold a special Mistletoe Service in the winter, where wrong doers in the city of York could come and be pardoned.

The custom of kissing under Mistletoe comes from England. The original custom was that a berry was picked from the sprig of Mistletoe before the person could be kissed and when all the berries had gone, there could be no more kissing!

The name mistletoe comes from two Anglo Saxon words 'Mistel' (which means dung) and 'tan' (which means) twig or stick! So you could translate Mistletoe as 'poo on a stick'!!! Not exactly romantic is it!

Mistletoe was also hung on the old English decoration the Kissing Bough.

The first postal service that ordinary people could use was started in 1840 when the first 'Penny Post' public postal deliveries began (Sit Henry Cole helped to introduce the Penny Post). Before that, only very rich people could afford to send anything in the post. The new Post Office was able to offer a Penny stamp because new railways were being built. These could carry much more post than the horse and carriage that had been used before. Also, trains could go a lot faster. Cards became even more popular in the UK when they could be posted in an unsealed envelope for one halfpenny - half the price of an ordinary letter.

francs

In its current form, it is of Cornish origin, and it was first published in Carols Ancient and Modern (1823) and Gilbert and Sandys Carols (1833), both of which were edited by William Sandys and arranged, edited and with extra lyrics written by Davies Gilbert for Hymns and Carols of God.

I got this off of The First Noel - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Whereas the devotional importance of relics and the economics associated with pilgrimages caused the remains of most saints to be divided up and spread over numerous churches in several countries, St. Nicholas is unusual in that most of his bones have been preserved in one spot: his grave crypt in Bari. Even with the allegedly continuing miracle of the manna, the archdiocese of Bari has allowed for one scientific survey of the bones. In the late 1950s, during a restoration of the chapel, it allowed a team of hand-picked scientists to photograph and measure the contents of the crypt grave.[45]

In the summer of 2005, the report of these measurements was sent to a forensic laboratory in England. The review of the data revealed that the historical St. Nicholas was barely five feet in height and had a broken nose. The facial reconstruction was produced by Dr. Caroline Wilkinson at the University of Manchester and was shown on a BBC2 TV program .

a king cake
spain

A king cake is a type of cake associated in a number of countries with the festival of Epiphany at the end of the Christmas season; in other places, it is associated with the pre-Lenten celebrations of Mardi Gras/Carnival.

A little history of Spanish Paella. It originates from a region of Spain called Valencia, which is in Eastern Spain. These days paella can be found in most Western countries, from the Americas to Europe, and it is especially popular in Spain.
italty

Free-standing sculptures of the Nativity often take the form of a "creche" or "presepe", which is a tableau or nativity scene that are usually temporary fixtures within a church, home, public place or natural setting. The scale of the figures may range from miniature to life-sized. These nativity scenes probably derived from acted tableau vivants in Rome, although Saint Francis of Assisi gave the tradition a great boost. This tradition continues to this day, with many small nativity scenes being made commercially from porcelain, plaster, plastic or cardboard for display in the home

The Nativity of Jesus has been a major subject of Christian art since the 4th century. The artistic depictions of the Nativity of Jesus are based on the narratives in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, and further elaborated by written, oral and artistic tradition. The nativity has been depicted in many different media, both pictorial and sculptural. Pictorial forms include murals, panel paintings, manuscript illuminations, stained glass windows and oil paintings. The subject of the nativity is often used for altarpieces, many of these combining both painted and sculptural elements. Other sculptural representations of the nativity include ivory miniatures, carved stone sarcophagi, architectural features such as capitals and door lintels, and free standing sculptures.

Zwarte Piet (pronounced [ˈzʋɑrtə ˈpit]; English: Black Pete or Black Peter, Luxembourgish: Schwaarze Péiter) is the companion of Saint Nicholas (Dutch: Sinterklaas, Luxembourgish: Kleeschen) in the folklore of the Low Countries. The character first appeared in his current form in an 1850 book by Jan Schenkman, and is commonly depicted as a blackamoor. Traditionally, Zwarte Piet is said to be black because he is a Moor from Spain.[1] Those portraying Zwarte Piet typically put on blackface make-up and colourful Renaissance attire, in addition to curly wigs, red lipstick, and earrings. In recent years, the character has become the subject of controversy, especially in the Netherlands.[2][3]

Netherlands
Sinter Klaas

Sinterklaas or Sint-Nicolaas is a historical figure with legendary, and folkloric origins based on Saint Nicholas. Other names for the figure include De Sint, De Goede Sint, and De Goedheiligman in Dutch; Saint-Nicolas in French; Sinteklaas in Frisian; and Kleeschen and Zinniklos in Luxembourgish.

sweden
CRAZY ELF!

The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition is a 2004 children's picture book, written by Carol Aebersold and daughter Chanda Bell and illustrated by Coë Steinwart. The book tells a Christmas-themed story, written in rhyme, that explains how Santa Claus knows who is naughty and who is nice. It describes elves visiting children between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve, after which they return to the North Pole until the next holiday season. The Elf on the Shelf comes in a keepsake box that features a hardbound picture book and a small soft toy in the form of a pixie scout elf.

Christina (18 December [O.S. 8 December] 1626 – 19 April 1689) reigned as Queen of Sweden from 1632[2] to 1654.[note 1] She was the only surviving legitimate child of King Gustav II Adolph and his wife Maria Eleonora of Brandenburg. At the age of six, Christina succeeded her father on the throne upon his death at the Battle of Lützen, but began ruling when she reached the age of 18.

Christina is remembered as one of the most educated women of the 1600s.[8] She was fond of books, manuscripts, paintings, and sculptures. With her interest in religion, philosophy, mathematics and alchemy, she attracted many scientists to Stockholm, wanting the city to become the "Athens of the North". She was intelligent, fickle and moody; she rejected what the sexual role of a woman was at the time. She caused a scandal when she decided not to marry[9] and in 1654 when she abdicated her throne and converted to Roman Catholicism. She changed her name from Kristina Augusta Wasa,[10] adopting the name Christina Alexandra.[note 2]

At the age of 28, the "Minerva of the North" moved to Rome.[12] The Pope described Christina as "a queen without a realm, a Christian without faith, and a woman without shame".[13] Notwithstanding all that, she became a leader of the theatrical and musical life and protected many Baroque artists, composers, and musicians.

Being the guest of five consecutive popes,[14] and a symbol of the Counter Reformation, she is one of the few women buried in the Vatican grotto. Her unconventional lifestyle and masculine dressing and behavior have been featured in countless novels, plays, opera and film. In all the biographies on Christina her gender and cultural identity play an important role.[15]

poland

Christmas Eve is known as Wigilia (pronounced vee-GHEE-lee-uh). The house is also cleaned and everyone gets washed and puts on their festive clothes. The main Christmas meal is eaten in the evening and is called "Kolacja wigilijna" (Christmas Eve supper). It's traditional that no food is eaten until the first star is seen in the sky! So children look at the night sky to spot the first star!

Presents are brought by "Święty Mikołaj" (St Nicholas/Santa Claus), but in some parts of Poland there are different present bringers (because during the 19th century the borders of Poland were different, so people had different traditions). In the east (Podlasie) there is "Dziadek Mróz" (Ded Moroz), in western and northern Poland "Gwiazdor", the Starman. The starman is not always all-good - if someone was bad, he can give him "rózga", a birch-rod that should be used on bad person!

ukraine

Christmas in Ukraine is celebrated on the 7th January is because, like many countries where the main Church is the Orthodox Church, they use the old 'Julian' calendar for their church festivals.

In Ukrainian Happy/Merry Christmas is 'Веселого Різдва' Veseloho Rizdva (Merry Christmas) or 'Христос Рождається' Khrystos Rozhdayetsia (Christ is Born). Happy/Merry Christmas in lots more languages.

The origins of the folk tale are unknown, but it is believed to have come from either Germany or Ukraine.[7][8][6] In Germany, Poland, and Ukraine, finding a spider or a spider's web on a Christmas tree is considered good luck.[9] Ukrainians also create small Christmas tree ornaments in the shape of a spider (known as pavuchky, literally "little spider"), usually made of paper and wire. They also decorate Christmas trees with artificial spider webs.[10] The tradition of using tinsel is also said to be because of this story.[3][2][11]

It may be based on an older European superstition about spiders bringing luck (though not black spiders in Germany),[8] or conversely that it is bad luck to destroy a spider's web before the spider is safely out of the way first.[3]

A poor but hardworking widow once lived in a small hut with her children. One summer day, a pine cone fell on the earthen floor of the hut and took root. The widow's children cared for the tree, excited at the prospect of having a Christmas tree by winter. The tree grew, but when Christmas Eve arrived, they could not afford to decorate it. The children sadly went to bed and fell asleep. Early the next morning, they woke up and saw the tree covered with cobwebs. When they opened the windows, the first rays of sunlight touched the webs and turned them into gold and silver. The widow and her children were overjoyed. From then on, they never lived in poverty again.[1][2]

mexico
The poinsettia is a commercially important plant species of the diverse spurge family. The species is indigenous to Mexico. It is particularly well known for its red and green foliage and is widely used in Christmas floral displays. It derives its common English name from Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first United States Minister to Mexico, who introduced the plant to the US in
U.S.
Rudolph's story was originally written in verse by Robert L. May for the Montgomery Ward chain of department stores in 1939, and published as a book to be given to children in the store at Christmas time.[8] According to this story, Rudolph's glowing red nose made him a social outcast among the other reindeer. Santa Claus' worldwide flight one year was imperiled by severe fog. Visiting Rudolph's house to deliver his presents, Santa observed Rudolph's glowing red nose in the darkened bedroom and decided to use him as a makeshift lamp to guide his sleigh. Rudolph accepted Santa's request to lead the sleigh for the rest of the night, and he returned home a hero for having helped Santa Claus. Rudolph's story is a popular Christmas story that has been retold in numerous forms, most notably a popular song, a stop motion television special and an animated feature film. The television special departed significantly from Robert L. May's original story, depicting Rudolph as Donner's son, who lived among Santa Claus' reindeer from birth. In 1998, a film titled Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Movie was released that depicted Rudolph as Blitzen's son

Credits:

Created with images by MattysFlicks - "Reindeer ice sculpture" • Fab-Musique - "holly shrub tree" • KRiemer - "flag france blow"

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