Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Christmas Around the World

Jo and I with Tomten in Ljungby
Christmas, also called Christ’s Mass, Nativity, Noel, and Feast of the Nativity, is an annual holiday celebrated by Christians and non-Christians worldwide. Originally this time of year held a pagan festival in which a winter feast would accompany the Roman New Year - Christians adopted this pre-existing date to commemorate Christ coming into the world. Although there are still many pagan traditions that influence Christmas, such as gift-giving, greenery, and lights, this time of year has become Christianized with the nativity scenes and the honoring Jesus’ birth. This will be my first Christmas that I am not celebrating in America, and thus, I decided to learn more about my new home’s Christmas traditions. I had to do a little research for both countries' "typical" Christmas, and although each family has their own traditions, these are the most commonly practiced. Enjoy!


Date celebrated: December 25; holiday season begins after Thanksgiving (4th Thursday of November) with the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade ending around January 6 (when the wise men visited Christ)
Santa bringing up the rear of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade
Typical foods: turkey, goose, duck or ham served with cranberry sauce, plum pudding or pumpkin pie, nuts and fruit, candy canes, gingerbread, eggnog, apple cider, baked breads, cookies
Typical Christmas dinner in America
Decorations: holly, mistletoe, garland, wreaths, snowmen, angels, snowflakes, nutcrackers, Christmas trees, Santa, reindeer, nativity scene, often the roof of the home is outlined with lights
American house decorated for Christmas
Christmas Tree: decorated with lights, popcorn strings, candy canes, ornaments, tinsel, topped with a star of Bethlehem or an angel; typically placed near a window
American Christmas tree
Religion services: Christmas Eve midnight mass, some churches will have Christmas morning mass
Jesus: Born to a virgin mother in a manger in Bethlehem, visited by 3 wise men, surrounded by shepherds and sheep
Nativity team
Santa: travels around the world on a sled pulled by reindeer (led by Rudolph); Santa comes down the chimney of homes to leave presents under the tree while children are sleeping; “bad” children get coal in their stockings; eats milk and cookies; lives in the North Pole with elves and Mrs. Claus; wears red, has a rotund belly and a white beard
Santa flying through the night sky
Traditions: pictures with Santa, writing letters to Santa, Christmas movies shown on various TV-channels throughout the month of December, Nativity plays, Christmas carolers, cookie exchange where families bake holiday cookies/treats and share them with neighbors, “secret Santa” where groups of individuals are secretly assigned to give a gift to another member of their group, mistletoe – if two people are standing underneath it, they are supposed to kiss

SVENSK JUL, aka Swedish Christmas

Date celebrated: December 24; holiday season begins with the 1st Sunday of Advent and Saint Lucia, celebrated on December 13 where boys dress up as “star boys” in long white shirts while one of the daughters in each family wears a white robe, red sash, and evergreen crown with illuminated candles; holiday ends January 13
Sankta Lucia procession at Astradskolan
Typical foods: rice porridge, meatballs, pickled herring, spareribs, small hot dogs, lutfisk, pork sausage, salmon, Janssons frestelse (potatoe casserole with anchovies), julmust (Christmas soft drink), Christmas beer, glogg (red wine with spices, usually served warm), gingerbread, ginger snaps 
Prinskorv (mini hot dogs), meatballs, Janssens frestelse (potatoes and anchovies casserole), the back pot has non-alcoholic glögg in it 
The cold foods: Ham, rödbetssallad (beet salad), mustard, 3 types of herring (tomato, mustard, and vinegar),
deviled eggs, sausage, liver pate, salmon
Decorations: advent candles and large stars in windows, red tulips, nativity scene, advent calendar. outside light decorations, Santa Claus
Advent Candle and Star of Bethlehem in a window
Christmas tree: straw ornaments, star always on the top, candy canes, tinsel, ornaments (red and white), gifts under the tree
Svensk Julgran
Religion Services: Midnight Mass on December 24th
Santa (“Tomten”): A family member dresses up wearing a white beard and red robe, knocks on the door or window to bring a sack full of gifts to the family; he walks around Sweden on a one-man sled to deliver gifts to the Swedish families; eats rice pudding. This is the reason that Americans celebrate Christmas on the 25th. He can come before or after Kalle Anka Jul, depending on the family
Family member dressed as Tomten over the years
Traditions: at 3pm on December 24, everyone in Sweden will watch “Kalle Anka Jul” (Donald Duck Christmas); typically there will be a party on the 25th and 26th for Swedes 18+ where they will oftentimes drink mass quantities of alcohol and celebrate with their friends; many families will eat breakfast on Christmas morning (the 25th) before going out to celebrate. There is a TV show that the children watch where they open their advent calendar candy in the morning. 
Donald Duck's Merry Christmas!

No comments:

Post a Comment