This month, thanks to the Relay Blog Staffetta dei Blog I had a wonderful trip worldwide. I called some Friends, the ones that I actually met and the virtual ones. I knocked at their door and asked to describe the Christmas traditions in their countries, at their places. How to live the atmosphere of the preparations and as celebrate.
All on board then! The Santa’s sleigh is leaving New Zealand, where we celebrate at the Davies’ place, to get through the day by the Muldoon in San Francisco.
Christmas traditions around the world
Here in New Zealand we have Christmas in the Summertime. We don’t go for over-the-top decorations because it doesn’t feel right to have snowmen, reindeer and pine trees when the weather is hot and the sky is sunny. Instead we usually just go for a little fibre-optic light up tree just to have something to put presents under.
We decorate the Christmas table with fresh flowers, cherries and a few Christmas decorations. If it’s a nice day we carry the dining table outside and dine al fresco. We don’t eat a big traditional turkey or ham – that’s too heavy to eat in warm weather. Our family usually opts for fresh salmon, lamb and lots of vegies. My husband is English so always insists on their being a traditional trifle for dessert.
Jill Sanders (Australia)
We used to collect as an extended family but over the years the family have all grown up and gone their own way…some spread out all over Australia. So now my husband and I tend to still open our presents from each other and other family members on christmas eve.
That was something we started years ago when our boys were small and before cousins etc descended upon us. We also go to church on Christmas morning and get home for Christmas lunch, then drive off for our afternoon with visit family, spend time and exchange gifts and usually stay for evening meal.
There would be anything between 2 of us to 30 or Christmas dinner (midday), friends and family plus extended family, many woudl bring food to share. Only if the weather is cool would I prepare a fully cooked meal with all the trimmings. Other wise is a BBQ or cold meats with salads. Here in in our part of Aust it can be anything form 20C to 45C, so I am not interested in heating the house up with a hot kitchen!
The house is usually decorated with tinsels and other coloured shiny paper garlands and of course a tree usually artificial!
Christmas traditions vary for us, as we’re nomadic.
My son and I have been nomadic now since January 2010, although the last two Christmases we’ve spent with family in the UK and Australia. One thing we’ve always done wherever we are, be that Kenya or Australia, is have the Christmas stocking that is hung out on Christmas Eve and filled with presents in the morning — always small presents. This Christmas we’ll be in Nepal, perhaps spotting rhino at Chitwan National Park. God only knows what I’m going to fill my son’s stocking with here!
Christmas in Hungary is celebrated almost the same way as in the majority of the European countries. However, there are some surprising differences in the flow. The family gathers together in the evening of the 24th December and has a huge dinner. Firstly we do not have turkey in the menu, but we eat fish. Either fish soup or fried fish, and a dessert made of poppy seed, called beigli. An even bigger difference, which makes the Hungarian Christmas unique is that when we finish dinner, we do not wait for Santa Claus to bring the presents. No! He already brought us some little ones into our winter boots on the night of 6th December. Who brings the presents during Christmas night in Hungary is the little Jesus. When I was a child I imagined that the little Jesus had wings and that is how he could come in the window with the presents. Then he was ringing a bell, and with my brother we ran in the room to find our presents under the Christmas tree. After opening the presents, the first day of the Christmas ends with a nice chat. The next two days are about family and friend gatherings and big lunches and dinners, to make sure that one of our oaths for the New Year will be to lose that weight.
My traditions for Christmas come from in part, growing up in a multi generational/multi cultural home. My grandparents were Catholic Bosnians that moved to Germany after the WW2. We always had my uncles and aunties, cousins and our nuclear family with us on Christmas Eve.
I grew up comfortable with a mixture of German and Bosnian foods and traditions. Cooking traditions were important in my family and as Bosnia had centuries long Turkish and Austrian-Hungarian influences throughout the culture, our Christmas table was varied and full with culinary diversity. Cabbage Rolls (Sarma) were prominent as was Lamb, Pork Roast and Baklava, lots of fruits and nuts and home baked cookies (Medvjeđe šape), and I still make all these for my table at Christmas today . Of course Bosnian coffee is served all the time. We always had an Advent Wreath on our main table and real candles on our Christmas tree. The Children were never allowed to see the decorated Christmas tree until after Mass on Christmas Eve and then the wonder of it was astounding.
Matteo hotel manager (Italia)
Gifts race, bright decorations, and colored presents … at Christmas, we constantly strive to follow this tested routine, and we often forget what makes us really good. “Simple pleasures are the last refuge of people complicated,” said Oscar Wilde. From the famous writer quote, was born the “The Christmas I want” the last initiative the Ciasa Alpina Relax Hotel in Val di Fassa.
The hotel that is a short walk from the center of Moena with a breathtaking view of the Dolomites, is preparing a different Christmas for its guests: rediscover the magic of simplicity, in a mountain village, far from the city chaos, just being surrounded by silence and snow. Await the Christmas activities of the past: the Christmas concert at Piaz de Sotegrava the afternoon of Christmas Eve, tea and hot chocolate on your return with the strudel, waiting for Santa Claus in the evening, playing together around the stove “Pirlo”.
Christmas lunch the next day, and in the afternoon, the visit at the cribs exhibition in Turkey Ward. This is the opportunity to collect your thoughts and get in touch with our innermost emotions, recharging the spirit.
Annie Andre, writer AnnieAndre (half thai – half canadian, but actually living in France)
This year my family (my husband and our three kids) will be celebrating Christmas in the south of France in a small town called “La Garde”. We are so excited because Christmas in France is truly a magical experience because no matter what city you visit in France, you are sure to find “Les marchés de Noël” which means Christmas markets. The Christmas markets are outdoor villages of wooden booths / chalets clustered together where you can buy gourmet treats like roasted chestnuts, gingerbread, mulled wine,sausages, handmade gifts, decorations and other delightfully cheerful Christmas finds. Our town has one of the biggest Christmas markets for our district (VAR) and it lasts for a full month.
Every night there are activities and festivities for the whole family. Santa Clause even comes to visit. On Christmas day we celebrate as we would normally celebrate in Canada and the US. Bake cookies, while listening to Christmas music in the background. I will cook a roast and we will enjoy a big Christmas dinner. Crepes with Nutella for desert. This year we plan on having a small tree but will have plenty of presents for the kids from Santa Claus. A few gifts will be board games which we can play together as a family right away. Christmas day and night is mainly about enjoying and appreciating our family and having fun together. I love Christmas with my family.
In America my family has many wonderful holiday traditions. Every year, as my mother did when I was a little girl, I make many kinds of cookies; sugar cookies with sprinkles, chocolate and molasses cookies, and loaves of cranberry bread. My children always help me bake our holiday sweets. We put up a big Christmas tree in the living room and decorate it with homemade decorations and family heirloom ornaments. The house is decorated with red bows & poinsettias and santa clauses. There are sparkly lights everywhere… inside and outside the house. Every year there are lots of holidays parties with friends. with a big group of friends we also take a ride on the “Christmas train” that travels on a short excursion through the hills and valleys of northern California. The train is also decorated with lights and boughs of holly and Santa Claus and his wife are on board. During the train ride we enjoy holiday cookies and hot toddies and we sing all our favorite Christmas carols. On Christmas eve I make a special dinner and afterwards we read the Christmas story from the bible in front of the fireplace and then we watch a favorite holiday film like “White Christmas” or Dicken’s “Christmas Carol”.
Before going to bed the kids hang their stockings on the chimney with care and leave cookies and milk for Santa and carrots for the reindeer. After the kids are asleep we sneak down and place all the gifts under the tree. In the morning while eating breakfast, the kids open their stockings and then we all go into the living room to open the gifts under the tree. We open gifts one at a time taking turns beginning with the youngest person in the family. I make a big turkey and stuff it with bread crumbs and sage, which I put in the oven before breakfast. The turkey cooks for about seven hours and as the day proceeds the wonderful aromas of the roasting turkey make our mouths water. We enjoy the rest of the day, always together… eating well, playing with our new toys and watching movies. It is always a magical day and everyone is always in the best of spirits!
Christmas at the Toads’ place
The family gathers together in the evening of the 24th December and has a huge fish dinner. My kids memories made Christmas unique: as we finished dinner, my parents hide me in my room while grandpas and aunties prepared the Santa Claus set in the living room and we opened the presents all together. It was fabulous! A really magic night! I was terribly excited and couldn’t wait for the Christmas eve.
Hidden in my room, listening the Santa’s bell ringing to the other side of the room and imagining him delivering all the presents for all the family. They were really good in preparing everything and in creating the atmosphere…so good that I still believe in the big red man living in Lapland and driving the sleight all over the world!