UK- Christmas crackers are a traditional Christmas favorite in the UK. They were first made in about 1845-1850 by a London sweet maker called Tom Smith. He had seen the French 'bon bon' sweets (almonds wrapped in pretty paper). He came back to London and tried selling sweets like that in England and also included a small motto or riddle in with the sweet. But they didn't sell very well.
Mistletoe is a plant that grows on range of trees including willow, apple and oak trees. The tradition of hanging it in the house goes back to the times of the ancient Druids. It is supposed to possess mystical powers which bring good luck to the household and wards off evil spirits. It was also used as a sign of love and friendship in Norse mythology and that's where the custom of kiFrance
France- In the 16th Century in northern Europe, after the reformation, the stories and traditions about St. Nicholas became unpopular.
But someone had to deliver presents to children at Christmas, so in the UK, particularly in England, he became 'Father Christmas' or 'Old Man Christmas', an old character from stories plays during the middle ages in the UK and parts of northern Europe. In France, he was then known as 'Père Nöel'.
Although the tradition of making these cakes dates back to the medieval period, John Mollard's 1803 recipe seems to be the earliest printed recipe for an English Twelfth Cake. These decorated cakes were an important element in the celebrations for the feast of the Epiphany. They were at the height of their popularity when Mollard wrote his cookery book. It was the
custom for each guest at a Twelfth Day entertainment at this time to take on the role of a particular character for the whole evening. This was achieved by choosing a card at random from a pack. These were illustrated with images of various comic characters.
Spain/What started out roughly 300 years ago as a dry French bread–type dough with sugar on top and a bean inside now comes in many varieties depending on the country. Some king cakes are made of a sweet brioche dough in the shape of a hollow circle with a glazed topping sprinkled with colored sugar. Hundreds of thousands of King Cakes are eaten in New Orleans during the Carnival season. In other countries, king cakes are made with a puff pastry, filled with one of several fillings (e.g., almond, apple, chocolate/pear, etc.), and have a small figurine hidden inside. The figurine changes from bakery to bakery and often represents a hit movie or other cultural icon.
Turrón or Torró has been known at least since the 15th century in the city of Jijona/Xixona (formerly Sexona), north of Alicante. Turrón is commonly consumed in most of Spain, some countries of Latin America, and in Roussillon (France). The similar Torrone is typical of Bagnara, Taurianova, Benevento and Cremona in Italy. There are similar confections made in the Philippines.
A popular belief is that her name derives from the Feast of Epiphany or in Italian La Festa dell'Epifania. Epiphania (Epiphany in English) is a Latin word with Greek origins. "Epiphany" means either the "Feast of the Epiphany" (January 6) or "manifestation (of the divinity)." Some suggest that Befana is descended from the Sabine/Roman goddess named Strina.
In popular folklore Befana visits all the children of Italy on the eve of the Feast of the Epiphany to fill their shoes with candy and presents if they are good. Or a lump of coal or dark candy if they are bad. In many poorer parts of Italy and in particular rural Sicily, a stick in a stocking was placed instead of coal. Being a good housekeeper, many say she will sweep the floor before she leaves. To some the sweeping meant the sweeping away of the problems of the year. The child's family typically leaves a small glass of wine and a plate with a few morsels of food, often regional or local, for the Befana.
While the term "nativity scene" may be used of any representation of the very common subject of the Nativity of Jesus in art, it has a more specialized sense referring to seasonal displays, either using model figures in a setting or enactments called "living nativity scenes" in which real humans and animals participate. Nativity scenes exhibit figures representing the infant Jesus, his mother Mary, and Joseph. Other characters from the nativity story such as shepherds and sheep, and angels may be displayed near the manger in a barn (or cave) intended to accommodate farm animals, as described in the gospels of Luke. A donkey and an ox are typically depicted in the scene, as well as the Magi and camels belonging to the Magi
The Zwarte Piet character is part of the annual feast of St. Nicholas, celebrated on the evening of 5 December (Sinterklaasavond, that is, St. Nicholas' Eve) in the Netherlands, Aruba, and Curaçao, and on 6 December in Belgium and Luxembourg, when presents and accompanying sweets are distributed to children. The characters of Zwarte Pieten appear only in the weeks before Saint Nicholas's feast, first when the saint is welcomed with a parade as he arrives in the country (generally by boat, having traveled from Madrid, Spain). The tasks of the Zwarte Pieten are mostly to amuse children, and to scatter kruidnoten, pepernoten, and strooigoed (special Sinterklaas sweets) for those who come to meet the saint as he visits schools, stores, and other places.
Sinterklaas (Dutch pronunciation or Sint-Nicolaas (Dutch pronunciation: [sɪnt 'nikolaːs] ( listen)) is a historical figure with legendary, and folkloric origins based on Saint Nicholas. Other names for the figure include De Sint ("The Saint"), De Goede Sint ("The Good Saint"), and De Goedheiligman ("The Good Holy Man") in Dutch; Saint-Nicolas in French; Sinteklaas in Frisian; and Kleeschen and Zinniklos in Luxembourgish.
Sinterklaas is celebrated annually with the giving of gifts on 5 December, the night before Saint Nicholas Day in the Northern Netherlands and on the morning of 6 December, Saint Nicholas Day itself, in the (Roman Catholic) southern provinces, Belgium, Luxembourg and Northern France (French Flanders, Lorraine and Artois). He is also well known in territories of the former Dutch Empire, including Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, and Suriname.
He is the primary source of the popular Christmas icon of Santa Claus.
Other holiday figures based on Saint Nicholas are celebrated in some parts of Germany and Austria (Sankt Nikolaus); Hungary (Mikulás); Switzerland (Samichlaus); Italy (San Nicola in Bari, South Tyrol, Alpine municipalities, and many others); parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia (Sveti Nikola); Slovenia (Sveti Nikolaj or Sveti Miklavž); Greece (Hagios Nikolaos); Romania (Moș Nicolae); Albania ("Shën Kolli" (Nikolli), among others.
Baboushka and the Three Kings is a children's picture book written by Ruth Robbins, illustrated by Nicolas Sidjakov, and published by Parnassus Press in 1960. Sidjakov won the annual Caldecott Medal as illustrator of the year's "most distinguished American picture book for children".
Parnassus was a small press in Berkeley, California, established in 1957 by Herman Schein, the husband of writer-illustrator Ruth Robbins. Sidjakov illustrated one of its first books and during the next several years it published at least three picture books he created with Robbins as writer.