What does Christmas mean to you? The impending season seems to sparkle with twinkling lights adorning homes, streets and shops. Christmas music is heard all around. The wonderful aroma of pumpkin and spices is in the air. The television is showing the wonderful classics such as ‘A Christmas Carol’ and ‘Miracle on 34th Street.’
Little eyes shine in anticipation of Santa’s arrival. The skies are searched nightly for signs of the man in red with his eight tiny reindeer. What! Was that the tinkle of bells? The Christmas trees are decorated with the lights and tinsel, sharing space with stockings that are hung in anticipation of being filled. This special time of the year puts a glow in your heart. The Christmas tradition is one that has survived for many years.
Santa or Saint Nicolas has been around for centuries. The traditional red suit, white beard and black boots are the conventional attire for the jolly old man with the plump red cheeks. The original Saint Nicolas is said to have been born in a village name Patara. The village was at that time located in Greece, but today is in Turkey. As the story goes, this kind-hearted lover of children would throw presents through the windows to the less fortunate.
Each country has their traditions and the day is celebrated in a variety of ways. Although turkey may be the predominant dinner in the U.S., in Rome the meal consists of seven fish. In Italy during the holidays the meals do not contain meat in holding with this Catholic day of abstinence.
In Germany, families gather in their warmest clothes and off to the Christmas Markets they go to shop. They are held outside and the weather is cold but the tradition has been followed for many years – since the 14th century. The markets begin opening at the end of November and are open until Christmas Eve. This is the German version of the shopping malls in America that are crowded with people looking for gifts. Another tradition that differs from the pumpkin pie and hot cocoa or hot toddies that are enjoyed in the U.S. is Germany’s Gluehwein and Stollen. This is a scrumptious German Christmas cake that is full of nuts and raisins and a sugar glaze coating.
The day after Christmas in England is known as Boxing Day.. This is a national holiday and in the past was a day for the poor. Servants during the 18th century would receive boxes of leftovers and gifts provided by their employers and since they were required to work on Christmas day, Boxing Day was the day they visited family.
In India the 'Poinsettia' is the flower, which is use to decorate Churches with its brilliant bloom. People do Charity, give presents to each other and celebrate the day with Christmas pudding. They also use small lamps to decorate their homes and surroundings. In Russia the religious way is replaced by 'festival of Winter'. They celebrate it with lots of food and family gathering. The role of Father Christmas played by Dedushka Moroz or Grandfather Christmas.
Every country has traditions that have been in place for many years and the Christmas season is unique for each. The poems, Christmas carols or songs and the exchange of greetings through Christmas cards is a time-honored tradition in the U.S. All season of goodwill and glad tidings, Christmas can be enjoyed in many countries and by many people no matter what the traditions include.