Posts tagged: Christmas around the world

Christmas in Dracula’s land

23 December 2016

Romania is a land of many traditions and Christmas is no exception. We know that Christmas is approaching when we hear in the village the first drum-beat (mid November)… Children, teenagers and adults come together twice a week, in the evening, to rehearse for the most valued Festival of the year – The Bear Festival  ( https://www.facebook.com/valorilenoastre/videos/1684801401811067/ )

White winter in Romania

White winter in Romania

During the night of Saint Andrews (end of November), Romanians believe that bad spirits (the vampires!) may attack at night, which is why most households will hang a garlic clove on their front gate to keep Dracula away 😕 .

Then, on the 6th of December we celebrate Saint Nicholas, one of the most awaited holidays of the year especially by children. In the Romanian culture, Mos Nicolae (Saint Nicholas) comes with gifts on the night between December 5 and December 6. He places gifts in children’s polished boots, apart for those who have been naughty. Instead, they receive a stick (trust me I’ve got the stick 😉 ). Apparently, a snowy day means that the Saint has shaken his beard for the winter to start.

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Christmas in Latvia

22 December 2016

latviaDid you know that Latvia is the birthplace of the decorated Christmas tree? Apparently old records show that it was in Old Town in Riga, the capital of Latvia, where the first Christmas tree was decorated in the 16th century. Today Latvians still decorate real fir trees with real candles and ornaments, often made from straw and other natural materials.

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Christmas in Macedonia

21 December 2016

flagChristmas in Macedonia is celebrated very differently to the UK. For starters, in Macedonia, Christmas is on January the 7th. Secondly, Macedonians don’t exchange presents at Christmas, but at New Year and lastly, Christmas dinner is traditionally totally vegan. Yes, no turkeys involved, and they live to see another Christmas in Macedonia 🙂

You might be thinking why so different? Well, the Macedonian Orthodox Church uses the Julian calendar for the religious festivals unlike the Gregorian calendar used for all secular activities. And although the main Christmas day is on the 7th, the celebrations start on the 5th January on a day called ‘Kolede’. This is the day when early in the morning children go door to door, singing Christmas carols and get cookies, fruit, nuts and coins from the hosts. Later in the day, the elderly gather around a bonfire (every neighbourhood lights up one) while drinking warmed up spirits ‘rakija’ and wine and reminiscing about the year passed and the year to come.

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Christmas in the United Kingdom…

20 December 2016

christmas1For me, Christmas celebrations generally get started in early December. In the first week or so I find that if the excitement of eating my advent calendar chocolates hasn’t triggered those festive feelings, then going along to a local Christmas event is sure to do the trick! As a child, these early December outings were all about queuing up to meet Father Christmas and pestering your parents for sweet treats, like hot chocolate topped with a mountain of whipped cream and marshmallows. As an adult, it’s now much more about sharing a spiced cider or mulled wine with friends at the Christmas markets. Regardless of which drink is in hand, this is typically when my favourite festive moment happens: the countdown to the Christmas lights switch on. A close second favourite has to be decorating the Christmas tree, which usually happens around the same time.

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