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Old 11-29-2012, 04:51 PM
 
Location: Tricity
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This thread is for our members living in countries other than the US ( the US has its own thread in Other Topics Forum http://goo.gl/ij6eL )

All over the world, Christmas celebrations reflect local culture and traditions. The festivities can be startlingly different from country to country, focusing on different aspects of the nativity story.
Share yours. Please state the country or where your customs came from. You may post your own pictures too.
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Old 11-29-2012, 06:20 PM
 
Location: Oxford, England
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In France many people will still attend Midnight Mass ( even lapsed Catholics ), Carols are sung, and afterwards is the "Reveillon" which is the Christmas Feast , supposed to celebrate the birth of Christ ( some people considered Midnight to be the time the Star of Bethlehem shone to announce the Happy Birth).

After the Reveillon it is the custom to leave a candle ( or these days a light) in the window in case the Virgin Mary passes by your house.

Kids leave their shoes on the Hearth. Nowadays under the Christmas Tree ( which I think appeared first in Alsace in the 15th century). As a kid you are supposed to leave carrots in your shoes for Santa's Donkey ( not Reindeer though the "Renne" ( reindeer) has now become the norm ).

Santa delivers to good kids and bad kids are threatened with the Pere Fouettard ( from the word "fouetter" : to whip - he is supposed to spank naughty kids, being a little Angel of course I never experienced his attentions ! ) if they are naughty. He is always represented as a nasty looking chap covered in coal soot. "Pere Noe"l is the French name for Santa.

The "Buche de Noel" is a traditional French dessert ( Christmas log) supposed to represent the tradition from the Perigord region of leaving a log on to burn from Christmas Eve until New Year's Eve.


Each region in France will have different Christmas traditions and dishes, but usual dishes would be things like Smoked Salmon and Foie Gras as starters, a roasted Goose or Turkey, or stuffed capon , roasted chesnuts in gravy and onions, roast fillet of beef, and a variety of desserts. And cheeses of course...



In Eastern France Christmas celebrations "proper" begin on St Nicolas day the 6th of December which when means that you should not decorate or have lights up until then. As a child I got a little present from that day until New year's Eve , like candy, nuts, little pocket money toys etc... As my Birthday is on the 5th I used to adore December, best time of the year for me !!!

In Provence you have a tradition of the Santons , little figurines representing a whole array of characters dressed Provencal style , a sort of extremely intricate Nativity. "Santons" are often collected by many people and antique ones can fetch quite a lot of money these days. Many are real pieces of art, crafted beautifully and some churches for example have exquisite gigantic displays of entire miniature Provencal towns and villages with a Nativity at its heart. It reminds me a lot of Mexican and some South American similar figures.

There is also the tradition of 13 Desserts marking Christ and his Twelve disciples.

We always opened our presents on our return from Midnight Mass.


Most households will have a Nativity scene though I suspect this is also becoming maybe rarer than in my days....

I was taught to always say "Merry Christmas" to anyone ( including shop keepers - I still do this in England and get funny looks sometimes !) I met from about a couple of days before and "Happy New Year" for a few more days after too.


You are supposed to exchange good wishes and greetings with neighbours, friends and acquaintances as well as family of course.

The Epiphany in January concludes Christmas proper and is celebrated with a "Galette des Rois" , a cake with a little Porcelain Baby Jesus hidden somewhere and the person who gets it , becomes the "King", wears a little paper golden crown and it is deemed good luck for the New Year. Plastic baby Jesus are now found in cheaper supermarket cakes. Some people do collect the "feve" * which means "bean" as it used to be bean in the old days) which is the name for the little figure.


http://www.chezpilou.com/special_fet..._nicolas03.gif
St Nicolas and his Donkey ladden with presents for the good kids

Santons de Provence

https://www.google.co.uk/search?rlz=...w=1093&bih=498



Buche de Noel

https://www.google.co.uk/search?rlz=...w=1093&bih=498


Creche de Noel - Nativity Set

https://www.google.co.uk/search?rlz=...w=1093&bih=498

Many Churches will also have "live" Creches with Donkey, Cow, Sheep, Shepherd, Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus and of course the Three Kings

Galette des Rois

https://www.google.co.uk/search?rlz=...w=1093&bih=498


Thirteen Desserts of Christmas

https://www.google.co.uk/search?rlz=...w=1093&bih=498

If a stranger appears on your doorstep at Christmas you are traditionally (pretty sure most people would not however) supposed to never turn them away and must invite them in , feed them and if necessary allow them to stay at your house as he might be Jesus testing your charity. My Great-Uncle and Aunt who are both Atheists would most certainly do this because it is tradition and tradition must be obeyed !

A stranded motorist ended up spending Christmas and Boxing day with us when I was little. My Great-Aunt fed him until he was begging for mercy and he slept in my room at which of course being about seven I was outraged !!
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Old 11-30-2012, 09:18 AM
 
Location: SE UK
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It seems to me that the custom in the UK is to go out and chuck as much beer down your neck as possible.
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Old 11-30-2012, 10:09 AM
 
Location: Scotland
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A lot of my friends and family have steak pies instead of turkey lol. Also eat the left overs on boxing day, is that a normal global thing? lol. Except for that nothing really out of the ordinary. A lot of Scottish traditions on Hogmany (new years eve) that are not seen anywhere else, Hogmany is our real festive day! Looking forward to christmas now after seeing the Dundee christmas lights turned on.

http://sphotos-g.ak.fbcdn.net/hphoto...77782113_o.jpg
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Old 11-30-2012, 11:48 AM
 
Location: Wonderland
61,661 posts, read 50,203,878 times
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I am a US citizen, but I lived in Germany for three years and I LOVE Christmas in Germany! So many rich traditions. They really do Christmas right - from the Kriskindlemarkts in nearly every town, to the beautiful carols.

One of my favorite German traditions takes place after Christmas on the Feast of the Epiphany on January 6th.

From this site: Three Kings and Epiphany

"To this day, the doorways would be sprinkled with holy water and the initials of the Three Kings -- C+M+B (Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar) -- plus the year are inscribed in chalk over doorways in German-speaking countries on the eve of January 6 to protect house and home. (Although historically the three letters are supposed to come from the Latin phrase for "Christ bless this house" -- "Christus mansionem benedicat" -- few of the people practicing this custom are aware of this fact. In many parts of Europe, including Austria, Germany, and Switzerland, the Christmas celebration does not end until this date, now considered the arrival of the three "kings of the orient" in Bethlehem -- and the end of the "twelve days of Christmas" between Christmas and January 6.

The custom of the Star Singers, reminiscent of the travel of the Three Kings is still very much alive in Bavaria and Austria. Beginning with New Years and through January 6, children dressed as the kings, and holding up a large star, go from door to door, caroling and singing a Three Kings' song. For this they receive cookies, sweets or money. Formerly the collected donations went to unemployed craftsmen and veterans, today they go to charities of the church or the Third World.

January 6, the day of the Three Kings, the last day of Christmas, comes with its own traditions, rituals and symbols. Carolers are going from house to house; in many homes the Christmas tree is taken down and in some areas is burnt in a big bonfire. For the children this is an especially joyous occasion because, associated with taking down the tree goes the "pl√ľndern" (raiding) of the tree. The sweets, chocolate ornaments wrapped in foil or cookies, which have replaced the sugar plums, are the raiders' rewards.

On this day the Three Kings' cake is baked."


http://www.bostonthekimagery.com/blo...door3sigsm.jpg


http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_hdEIaltWO7...ake.3kings.jpg


http://www.dreamhomedecorating.com/i...ermany-cmb.gif
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Old 11-30-2012, 01:24 PM
 
Location: North West Northern Ireland.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by easthome View Post
It seems to me that the custom in the UK is to go out and chuck as much beer down your neck as possible.
Well, no thats not custom. Thats an excuse to drink.
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Old 11-30-2012, 01:26 PM
 
Location: North West Northern Ireland.
20,694 posts, read 22,082,978 times
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Here, we don't have any customs.

I think its just the same as america.
Goto bed, get up at like 6 open you presents.
Eat Dinner, which will obviously consist of turkey, stuffing etc.
People will come visit around 6, chat, watch movies.
Goto bed at 12.

Apparently, they don't have christmas in some countries of Europe.
I remember when our Spanish teacher told us that they believed in the Three wise men and not Santa, we all burst out laughing for like 20 minutes.
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Old 11-30-2012, 01:31 PM
 
Location: Tejas
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I miss Santa flying in in the helicopter in Dublin.

Pretty much sums it up owen.
In Dublin I woke up at 6, opened presents. Ate and drank then fell asleep about 2 or 3. Woke up at 5 or 6 then drink a lot more and go wait for the pubs to open at midnight.
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Old 11-30-2012, 02:37 PM
 
Location: Colorado (PA at heart)
9,846 posts, read 15,986,393 times
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Pantomime! Never even heard of this until I came to the UK but I love the crowd interaction: Pantomime - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Also, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas_cracker and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas_pudding - though I don't really like the Christmas pudding, it's a big part of Christmas here in the UK. Neither are very popular in the US.
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Old 11-30-2012, 02:39 PM
 
Location: North West Northern Ireland.
20,694 posts, read 22,082,978 times
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They are not christmas, they go all year.
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