Christmas all over the world

After getting the Christmas vibe I became curious about how other people celebrate it in other countries. So I asked my friends from abroad who were kind to answer my questions about their holiday habits. So here are 4 continents and 10 countries of Christmas:

Antonia /Serbia, Bosnia/
‘Two days before Christmas (on Great Friday) we go into the woods and try to find some branches of Badnajk. We put them next to the Christmas tree and usually some candies beneath it. This is typical of Orthodox Christmas in Serbia and Bosnia, which is celebrated on 7th January. Before Christmas there is a special not eating some food preparation that starts one month earlier. No meat, milk products and eggs. If someone can’t do it for a whole month it takes 7 days. On Christmas Day we usually eat some pork or beef and prepare a special bread, ’Pogaca’. In that bread the cook hides a coin. Whoever finds it will be in charge of money for the next year. We also eat Prebranac, specially prepared beans and a lot of different types cakes and cookies. The day before Christmas and Christmas Day is pretty much the same: celebrated among family.’

Helen /Taiwan/
‘There are Christmas trees eveywhere but not in our homes. Christian families celebrate it, but as for me, a Buddhist, I don’t really take Christmas seriously. My grandmother is a Christian, she celebrates it with people of her church. So it’s more like church-related in Taiwan, but actually the commercials are doing the thing, buying gifts, going to a decent restaurant… So people celebrate it not because they’re Christian but because “everybody does that”. It’s not like a day of family reunion, because we don’t do reunions on Christmas.’

Ilke /Turkey/
‘There aren’t many Christians in Turkey, but they mainly live in Istanbul and the Southeastern cities of the country. They are mostly Armenian Orthodox, that’s why they celebrate Christmas on 6th January. The preperation for Christmas takes 7 weeks and it  is called Hisnag (meaning 50 days). On the first, fourth and seventh week of Hisnag they only eat vegetarian food. New Year’s also takes place during Hisnag, so on 31st December they attend the church and then have a family dinner that consists mostly of sea food, vegetarian food, anuşabur (meaning sweet soup). It’s a tradition to call poor people to that dinner as well. They smash pomegranate at their doors symbolizing richness. On Christmas Eve (5th January) afternoon they go to the church again and lit 7 purple candles. After praying they have dinner just like on 31st December, only with vegetarian food. On 6th January in the morning they go to the church and after that families visit their relatives to celebrate.On 7th January people visit the graves of their passed love ones and pray for them. Christians in Turkey does not celebrate Christmas like we see it in American TV shows, so not in a capitalist way. There are no gifts for everyone (only for some very young children at New Year’s). There are only simple dinners, religious rituals and quality time with family and friends. It is the way to conserve their beliefs and culture as a minority in the country.’

Celia /Spain/
‘We decorate the living room with the Christmas tree and the Betlehem portal (the place where Jesus was born, with virgin Mary and St. Joseph). The Christmas tree is just like the normal ones, we usually have a plastic one that can be used every year. We put out some more decoration but these are small and discrete, like a figure of a snowman (but this is different in each family). Some families celebrate Santa Claus as well, but if they do, he only brings a small present because he is not very popular here. These families will have the socks as decoration too. School holidays are from 22nd December until 7th January. We celebrate Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve like the most importants dates of the holidays. We meet with our family members and we usually have lamb as the main plate. We also have “gulas” and prawns. On 25th December and 1st January we have a special lunch with our families but it is not as important as the dinners of the previous day, because we are usually tired. On 31st December, with the entrance of the New Year we eat 12 grapes with the last bells. We finally celebrate the Three Wise Men (we actually call them the three wizard kings) the 6th January. On 5th January there is a parade where the Three Wise Men come to the cities and say hello to the children and give them candies. That night we leave some milk and a bun or cake called “roscón de reyes” for them and a shoe for them to know where to leave the presents. They leave a lot of presents and on 6th the children open them and go to their grandparents and uncle’s houses to pick up more. The sweets we eat during all the Christmas are roscón, mazapán, turrón and polvorones.’

Anna /Denmark/
‘Here Christians don’t usually go to church during Chirstmas. We hold Christmas dinners that start from the beginning of December, because we have separate ones with colleagues, friends and family members. The Christmas dinner starts at 13-14 o’clock and lasts till night. There is an appetizer, that is usually shrimp-cocktail, then the main course, which is caramellized baked potato, pig flitch with a brown sauce and then dessert. Special Danish dessert is risalamande that we decorate with mandel slices. We put a whole mandel into it as well and whoever finds it will recieve a small gift. A lot of schnaps dwindles during the holidays.  There is also a game we play on and before Christmas. Everyone buys a small gifts and we decide who will get it with a dice. With family members it’s a sweet tradition but with friends it can contain inappropriate presents as well. We decorate the Christmas tree a week before Christmas and then the whole family comes together. We open the presents slowly and talk a lot during it so it can go on till late night. Then we dance around tree and the house because it brings luck and blessings.’

Dorotea /Croatia/
In my family it’s usually cookie and cake baking a week before Christmas and also the preparation of “French” salad which my boyfriend makes best! On Christmas Eve you can’t eat meat so we usually bake fish. We have dinner and then buy and decorate the Christmas tree. We usually pick one of last ones haha… We decorate the house and then go to the midnight mass. On Christmas Day in the morning we usually get up earlier and have a quick breakfast so we can rush to open the presents. Then we go to the Christmas mass.’

Karina /Indonesia/
‘We usually go to church on 24th December, the night before Christmas Day. The church always has a decoration of baby Jesus and his family. On 25th December we usually just eat together, either at home or have a dinner at a restaurant.’

Julia /Austria/
The 4 Sundays before Christmas we light a candle on an adventkranz. The Sundays are called the first, second, third and fourth of Advent. On Christmas Eve in the morning we decorate the Christmas tree and in the evening we celebrate with a nice meal and Christmas songs. The presents lie under the Christmas tree and usually the children read the name tags and hand them over to everybody. Before that Michael’s mom rings a bell to signal us that we are allowed to see the tree and come into the room. We often eat raclette. Michael’s grandma always prepares fried fish with potato salad and we eat a lot of cookies like linzer augen, vanillekipferl and kokosbusserl.’

Clara /Brazil/
‘We love the lights… shining and bright. People put lights on the buildings, houses, streets… Here we call Santa Claus papai noel, and he is the same (the good old guy with red and white clothes, fat and with a sack with gifts to all of those have been good ones). People are dressed like that in every mall, and even on the streets. The Christmas tree is always really beautiful, well adorned and with the gifts we exchange under it. We exchange gifts in a play we call amigo secreto (secret friend). We raffle the names and then speak about our friend without telling his/her name, so people have to figure out who it is. Christmas dinner is served at midnight on 25th December; when the day comes we prepare a Christmas lunch too. The table is well decorated, with fruits and a beautiful tablecloth. Some religious families build a Christmas crib to symbolize the birth of Jesus Christ. It can also be found in Catholic churches. The traditional food is turkey here and the so called tender, that is roasted ham. There is also a food we call salpicão (chicken salad) that is made with chicken, corn, pea, ham, mayonnaise and potato sticks (it’s really good). Because of the Portuguese tradition, we have codfish on Christmas too with roasted potatoes. All of this above we eat with rice and other garnishes. To dessert we have panetone (seems like a cake). I just figured out that is an Italian food and we adapted it with crystallized fruits (or chocolate – that is better for sure); and rabanada, that is a specifical bread that we put inside of milk and then eggs, fry and pass in sugar with cinnamon.

Thank you all very much for your help! Wishing you all a Merry Christmas! ❤

 

 

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