Some interesting info on how Christmas is celebrated around the world.
Read, learn a little and enjoy
Merry Christmas from S3
Christmas trees in the UK were first popularized by Prince Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria; he was German and thought it was a good tradition to bring to England. Letters to Santa are often thrown in the fire place rather than put in the mail, in the hopes that they will fly up the chimney to Santa. Wassailing is an old Anglo-Saxon custom that is unique to the UK, and Boxing Day is a very old custom that started in the UK and is now recognized in many countries around the world.
Christmas is celebrated over two days in the Netherlands; Eerste Kerstdag (First Christmas Day) on December 25 and Tweede Kerstdag (Second Christmas Day) on December 26, both of which are public holidays. Christmas Day in the Netherlands is not about Santa Claus and reindeer. In fact, the Dutch celebrate Sinterklaas (St. Nicholas Day) on December 5, and this is this day Dutch children get really excited about, as they receive most of their presents on Sinterklaas. Christmas in the Netherlands is about ambiance. People buy Christmas trees, and decorate them with kerstkransjes (Christmas wreath cookies), glass balls, gilded nuts, ribbons, pine cones, frosted bells, and red and white candles. Many people place beautiful Advent star lights in their windows. The main square of every city has its own brightly lit Christmas tree. Twinkling lights shaped like bells and stars, and garlands are strung over many of the charming old streets, adding instant Christmas cheer during the darkest days of the year.
The Christmas celebration in Italy begins eight days before the holiday, and lasts until after the Feast of Epiphany. Musical salutes are made at the shrine of the Virgin Mary, and songs are played at the homes of carpenters in honor of St. Joseph. Eight days before Christmas, a special Novena of prayers and church services begin. It all ends on Christmas Day. On December 23rd, children dressed as shepherds go from house to house playing songs and giving recitations. A Yule log, the Ceppo, is burned, while toasts with wine and wishes for the future are expressed. The ceppo is an old “Tree of Light” tradition which evolved to become the Christmas tree in other countries. Instead of Santa Claus, children are expecting La Befana, a good Christmas witch who rides on a broom. In legend, La Befana was asked by the Wise Men and shepherds to join in the journey to greet Baby Jesus; she declined, but later saw the Christmas star and rushed to the scene with gifts, only to find an empty manger. La Befana now rides the night sky on her broom seeking the Christ Child, and when she cannot find him, she leaves gifts for the good children of Italy and charcoal for the others.
Christmas in Australia is HOT, and falls in the middle of the country’s summer holiday. Many people celebrate the holiday away from home, in holiday parks, at camp sites, in other countries, or at relatives’ homes. In the weeks before Christmas, Australians decorate their homes with Christmas trees, candles, electric lights, glass baubles, tinsel, snowmen, fake snow and figures of Santa Claus. On Christmas Day, children hope to receive gifts in stockings or under the Christmas tree from Santa Claus. In the weeks before Christmas, they write letters to him with their wishes. In some stories, Santa wears shorts and a loose, brightly colored Aloha shirt, and his sleigh is pulled by six white kangaroos. Many Australians eat a special meal on Christmas Day, consisting of roasted meats and vegetables and heavy fruit cakes and steamed puddings. A small coin is baked inside steamed pudding, and doused with burning alcohol before being served. Whoever finds the coin in his or her serving is destined to have a lucky and prosperous year.