At this time of the year, people all over the world come together to celebrate the festive season, but depending they are based, how they celebrate can be very different. Over two billion people acknowledge Christmas in some way, whilst it is often used as an occasion to bring families and friends together, Christmas also brings with it a variety of traditions. If you’re living abroad during the holiday, it’s worth learning about the way in which your new community celebrates Christmas, if only so you can enjoy the period just as much as they do!
Whilst there’s no doubting that most Italians will be familiar with a commercial version of our Father Christmas, they don’t believe it to be the man in the white beard who delivers their presents each year – rather, a good witch called La Befana. La Befana delivers their presents on January 6th using a broomstick rather than a sleigh. One thing remains the same , however, if you have been bad – you can still expect a lump of coal!
The people of the Netherlands celebrate Christmas on December 6th and await SinterKlaas and his sidekick Black Pete. These two well-known leave sweets and nuts for good children who have filled their shoes with hay and sugar for his horse.
The Germans also celebrate Christmas on December 6th – Nikolaustag. St. Claus day. On the eve of that day children will leave shoes or boots outside their door in the hope that the next morning they will be filled with sweets and small toys. If they haven’t been good, a golden birch will appear in place of toys – meant to be used to spank them!
The biggest difference between our Christmas celebrations and those taking place in Australia is of course the weather. Christmas for Australians takes place in the height of summer – oh, and Father Christmas uses kangaroos instead of reindeer, obviously.
In Greenland rather than tucking into turkey, stuffing, pigs in blankets and bread sauce, the locals enjoy rather an unusual dish. Kiviak is a decomposed bird that has been wrapped in sealskin and buries under a stone for several months…
In Slovakia, Christmas Eve dinner is more important than Christmas Day dinner. At the beginning of their meal, the head of the family will take a spoon of Loksa (traditional Christmas dish made out of bread, poppy seeds and water) and throw it at the ceiling. The more mixture that remains glued to the ceiling the richer his crops will be the following year.
Wherever you are celebrating Christmas in the world this year, be sure to use means available to you to connect with your family and friends who will likely be thinking of you, and make the most of the festivities around you!