Christmas Traditions in Costa Rica

Christmas traditions in Costa Rica are full of the Latin American flavor, but they are uniquely done the Tico way.

Snow…Snow…Snow ….Marvelous Snow! We Northerners might think Yuck especially after a long winter, but Costa Ricans (Ticos) are fascinated by snow. They rarely, if ever, see the real thing, because they are so close to the equator. The floats in the Festival de la Luz, which are decorated in fluffy white, draw much attention because of the oddity of snow.

December is a very special month in Costa Rica. The children begin their long “summer” vacation from school. The four month long rainy season has ended. The hot muggy weather replaced with dry cooler temperatures of about 70 degrees. All working adults receive their aquinaldo from their employer. This is a bonus required by law and is equal to one months pay. Oh! And of course, it is Christmas Navidad complete with so many festivals, parades, and Puerto Rican Christmas traditions. Mucha fiesta

Costa Ricans love to celebrate and many take vacations at this time of year. They have three main parades after the beginning of the Christmas season on Dec. 16th .

El Carnival – Dancers and musical groups from all over the country compete for the best of show in costumes, dancing talent, and music.

El Tope – A Parade of showy horses, beautiful horse drawn carriages, and famous hand painted ox carts. Originally these carts were pulled by people until 1840 when the exporting of coffee exploded. The Las Carretas carts were then pulled by oxen; transporting coffee to the ports and other goods back. Decorating the carts began in the early 1900’s. The San Jose Tope is the most famous. It is a grand parade that also includes floats, clowns, and marching bands.

El Destile de Luces – A night time parade made beautiful with thousands of Christmas lights. This parade is a favorite of the people.

Christmas Traditions in Costa Rica

Christmas traditions in Costa Rica began when Christmas was first celebrated in 1601. The governor, Don Vasquez de Coronado organized the festivities and declared it a national holiday.

Like Mexico, the Ticos celebrate with Posadas the nine days before Christmas. The Costa Rican Christmas is centered upon the Christ child, and therefore, both the Posada and La Portal( the manger) take a very important position in their celebration. The family portal often occupies the majority of the living room. The children collect plants, mosses, grasses, twigs, and sawdust to decorate it. Portals are completed with crafted wood, statues of Mary, Joseph, The Three Kings,and the shepherds and their sheep. On Noche Buena Christmas Eve, The Christ child is placed in the manger just before the family attends the Misa del Gallo Christmas Midnight Mass.

A few days before Christmas, the Christmas tree is placed in the home. It is painted white and may be a small Cyprus tree or dried branches from the coffee plant. It is decorated in a homemade fashion with small figurines, lace ornaments and brightly colored strips of paper. The gold star of Bethlehem crowns the tree. The night before Christmas some Tico children will place their shoes out for the Christ child to fill with treats and small gifts. On Christmas morning, those children are asked, “What did the Baby bring you.”

The Christmas Eve dinner is a late night affair, and no wonder with all the preparation that goes into it. The special Costa Rican tamales that are served take many hours to prepare. Pupusas, tortillas made with many ingredients, grilled pork or chicken, as well as empanadas are served. This feast is topped off with fresh grapes and apples that are imported for the holiday season.

The most anticipated activity of the Christmas season is the Toros a laTica bullfights. Dozens of normal “crazy in my mind” young men will hop into the arena and attempt to frighten the bull into charging. The bulls are never harmed. Occasionally, a young man will be gored. Surprisingly though, this does not often happen.

Christmas traditions in Costa Rica end with the celebration of the Feast of the Epiphany on January 6th. The night before, most Tico children greatly anticipate the arrival of The Three Kings, who will bring them gifts while they sleep. The children set out boxes of grass for the camels of the Los Reyes Magio. On the Epiphany Neighbors gather to pray and enjoy company with feasting and caroling.

Christmas Traditions in Costa Rica

Chorizo and Potato Stew

2 lbs chopped potatoes
1 1/2 lb “chorizo” spicy sausage
1 chopped onion
1/2 chopped chili pepper
4 chopped garlic cloves
1 bunch cilantro/coriander chopped finely
1 tsp thyme branches
1/4 tsp “achiote”
(a shake of each of these spices annatto, Mexican oregano, cumin, clove, cinnamon,)
Salt and pepper
Cook the potatoes along with The spices in a pot.
Add the rest of the ingredients.
Cook without burning over a medium fire for 10 min.

Panama Christmas Traditions

Panama Christmas traditions contain a curious mixture of Spanish and American traditions due to the Americans building the Panama canal. Panama is a very small country; just smaller than the state of Indiana and they have a population of about 3 million people. About one fourth of the county’s populations lives in Panama City, because of this, Panama city is the center of the country’s Christmas celebration.

On the second weekend in December the festivities begin. The Panama City Christmas parade is one of the most exciting Panama Christmas traditions. The poor children from around the city are gathered together and brought to the center of the festivities, so they, too, can enjoy them. The floats are decorated in the national styles and the women dress in their country’s party dresses, polleras. The men’s costumes are called monunos. Here are some beautiful pictures from one of their parades.

At the Panama City beach, they ceremonially light a giant Christmas tree and sing Navidad villanciaos, Christmas carols. The local churches come together to serve hot cocoa and Christmas cookies. The day is topped off with a fireworks display and, later that night, a Christmas boat parade, at the Panama City beach. The light show on these boats is spectacular.

Panama Christmas Traditions

Smaller neighborhoods love to hold the Spanish Las Posada on the nine days before Christmas. They dress as Mary and Joseph. To mimic the search for a place in the inn, they parade from house to house. At the final house where they are received, they sing, hit piñatas and enjoy food.

Nacimientos, Nativities are set up in many homes. the Christmas tree may or may not be present.In the Panama Canal zone, which is Americanized, there are extravagant outdoor displays with Christmas lights and nativity scenes.

On Christmas Eve at midnight, the Panamanians don’t ring the Christmas bells to announce the coming of the Lord Jesus, but instead shoot off fabulous fireworks. No one misses the beginning of Christmas in Panama.

They have a night time feast and there is much dancing and celebrating in the streets of Panama. At the feast you can expect to dine on Chicken tamales, Arroz con Pollo chicken and rice, Perhaps, pavo turkey and relleno, stuffing. Beautiful bowls of fruit and fruitcake are the traditional desserts. A form of spiked eggnog called Ron Ponche is often served.

Panama also celebrates the Epiphany,Dia de los Reyes. This is the day children will receive small gifts.

Christmas lights divider

Panama Christmas Traditions Recipe:
Ron Ponche

2 cans of condensed milk
3 cans of evaporated milk
6 eggs
1/2 bottle of Rum
nutmeg to taste
Combine the milks in a large container;
beat the eggs in a separate bowl
stir them into the milk mixture,
Slowly add the rum.
Add nutmeg to taste.
Must be refrigerated until ready to drink.

Danish Christmas Traditions

Danish Christmas traditions: Denmark is the country of charming family Christmas traditions. A quaint or old fashioned Christmas is the term I would like to use, but not in a negative sense. I think the Danes capture something in their Christmas celebrations that has been nearly lost in other parts of the world.

Time spent together especially around the holidays seems to be treasured in Denmark. The spirit of A Child’s life at Christmas Time is captured in Danish Christmas traditions.

Baking Christmas cookies

Baking Christmas cookies is a family tradition that begins weeks before Christmas during the Advent season. Whether it is rolling, cutting, stirring, decorating, or nibbling; everyone takes part.

Gathering around the table with Grandma and Grandpa, and Mom and Dad to decorate the burne kager (gingerbread cookies) is a tradition the youngest children especially enjoy. The dough was made several weeks earlier and stored in the refrigerator so that it’s flavor would meld properly. Danish butter cookies and peppernoder (peppernuts) are also favorites.

Plates of Christmas cookies are shared and passed between family and friends. It is said that if a visitor leaves your home in Denmark without being fed, he will carry away the Christmas spirit. So, of course, that just isn’t allowed. Food is shared liberally with everyone, especially Christmas cookies.

Danes love to decorate their homes for Christmas. Advent wreaths with their candles, Nissers (little gnome like elves), evergreen boughs, mistletoe, and holly are placed throughout the house. If a family lives in a rural area, the whole family sets out with the sled to find and cut their perfect juletrae (Christmas tree).

Danish Christmas ornament

Before that happens though, a special Danish Christmas tradition occurs. A day is set apart. This day is called cut and paste day. Everyone, including the teenagers, sit down together and spend the day making and decorating homemade Christmas ornaments.
Much like Americans string popcorn for their tree, Danish people make and use strings of small red and white Danish flags. Red and white checked heart shaped baskets and cornucopias filled with treats are favored ornaments.

Lille Juleaften (Little Christmas Eve), December 23 rd., can be the busiest day of the year. Last minute shopping is done. Presents are wrapped and the house is given a final straightening. The baking is finished for Christmas eve dinner. The children set out sheathes of grain for the birds and special treats for the animals.

According to Danish Christmas tradition, the main celebration of Christmas is done on Christmas Eve, Juleaften. Although Mother has been busy for hours, the four o’clock church bells signal the beginning of the celebration. The relatives have all arrived, and together they attend a candlelight church service. The Christmas feast starts after the service. A bowl of rice porridge is set out for the Julenisse (mischievous Christmas gnomes) so that they will relent from their pranks. Dinner begins when a beautifully browned goose is place upon the table. It is served with small browned potatoes that have been caramelized with brown sugar. Red cabbage is also a traditional dish. Ris A L’Amande (rice pudding )served with cherry sauce is often the dessert. Father closes the meal by reading the Christmas story from the Bible.

Candles, resting on the ends of the Christmas tree branches, are lit. Always, they are real candles. Every member of the family joins hands and they “dance” around the Christmas tree. As they walk, they sing carols. Julemand (the Danish Santa), comes and distributes his gifts. More Christmas cookies and marzipan are enjoyed as the night settles.Christmas day and Second Christmas day, December 26th, are spent visiting extended family and friends.

Curvy Christms divider

Danish Christmas Traditions Recipe

Ris A L’Amande

3 2/3 c milk is brought to a boil
1 cup of white rice and 1/2 cup of fine sugar is added.
Cook until the rice is tender. Then Cool.
2/3 cup of chopped sliced almonds
1/2 cup of cream sherry
1 tsp vanilla
Whip then stir in gently
1 1/3 cup of whipping cream
Top with cherry sauce and serve

Christmas traditions in Finland

Christmas traditions in Finland are centered on the home and family. The sense of warmth of the family home and the merriment of the season are accentuated amidst the harsh reality of a far north winter.

Finland Christmas traditions, Santa

Finland is the home of Santa, and every Finnish child knows that Santa lives on the Mountain of Korvatunturi in the town of Savukoski. This town is in the northern section of Finland called Lapland. There are many many reindeer in Lapland and, after all, Why wouldn’t Santa live where his reindeer are?

By Christmas Eve morning, the children are all awash with excitement for they know that Finland is the first country on the list of Santa’s stops. As a matter of fact, he stops there on Christmas Eve with gifts for every one.

Finnish families celebrate St. Lucia’s Day, as do most of the Scandinavian countries. The celebration of Christmas occurs from December 24th to the 26th. Several weeks before hand, during the advent season, homes are prepared, cookies are baked, and decorations are made ready.

The standard fare for a Christmas eve breakfast is rice pudding. Thick and Creamy, it is served hot and topped with cinnamon, sugar and other spices. What a yummy way to serve a hot meal that will warm them throughout their morning excursions. Papa and the children will go and get the tree. With a bit of shopping left to be done, Mama heads to the market early for all the stores will close at noon.

Christmas traditions in Finland have become known to over 140 countries largely because of a traditional event that has occurred every year, save one, since the mid 1300’s. In the city of Turku, in southern Finland, the people gather just before noon. After the Turku Cathedral Bell strikes twelve, the Declaration of Christmas Peace is read.

The Declaration of Christmas Peace

Finnish Christmas traditions - Christmas peace

Tomorrow, God willing, is the graceful celebration of the birth of our Lord and Savior; and thus is declared a peaceful Christmas time to all, by advising devotion and to behave otherwise quietly and peacefully,
because he who breaks this peace and violates the peace of Christmas by any illegal or improper behavior shall under aggravating circumstances be guilty and punished according to what the law and statutes prescribe for each and every offence separately.

Finally, a joyous Christmas feast is wished to all inhabitants of the city.

This Finnish Christmas tradition is so famous that it is broadcast over all the air waves and TV. The ceremony ends with a flourish as the trumpets play the National Anthem.

Finland Christmas traditions -christmas lights

More Christmas traditions in Finland

If you have gotten a chill thinking about Christmas in the frozen country of Finland, perhaps you will warm up a bit when you hear that everyone in Finland, after a light Christmas Eve lunch, heads out to take the sauna bath. This sounds like one of the best Christmas traditions in Finland (maybe in the whole world) What a nice way to ease tensions before guests come to dinner.

Dinner, of course, is a sumptuous feast. There is ham or pork roast, casseroles with carrots and rice, or rutabaga. Several kinds of fish including herring and cod, lots of whole grain breads, prune tarts, and berry pudding. The holiday drink is glogg, which is a mulled wine.

About 5 or 6 o’clock, families go to the cemeteries to leave candles on the graves of loved ones who won’t be there to celebrate Christmas any longer. Thousands of flickering light, reflecting against the snow and trees create a memorable scene.

A bit later in the evening there is a knocking at the door, JoulupukkiSanta has arrived. unfortunately papa misses his arrival because he had to go do the evening chores. Joulupukki boldly asks,” Are there any good children in the house”.Of course there always is, and Santa never misses handing out presents. The children love to sing Joulupukki Laula or Peteir Punakuono (Rudolph) or other such songs to him, before he leaves to visit the rest of the world.

Christmas day except for morning services is strictly a say at home family day and very quiet. However, everyone visits friends and family on the 26th.

Merry Christmas – Hyvaa Joulua

Finish christmas traditions - Christmas lights

Christmas traditions in Finland Recipe:

Finnish Rice Pudding
Cook 1 1/4 cup of rice in boiling water till just tender.
Strain and add rice to 5 cup of very hot whole milk.
Boil slowly for 10 minutes and add the following mixture
1 egg well beaten
1/3 cup of cream
2/3 cup of sugar
3 Tbsp flour
1/2 tsp of salt

cook as a slow boil for a few more minutes
Serve hot with a dusting of cinnamon, sugar, cardamon
and milk.

Swedish Christmas Tradition

A Swedish Christmas Tradition lights up the holidays in winters that are very dark indeed.

December 13th at dawn:

Swedish Christmas tradition“Filip, get up!”
“Elsa, it’s too early, School’s not for hours.”
“There’s no school, silly. I’ve brought you
rolls and coffee.”
“Oh, I forgot. I forgot it was St Lucia’s day. Umm! Yummy. Who lit the candles on your crown?”
“I did, I told Mum I would be very careful.”
“You’re leading the parade today aren’t you, Elsa”
“That’s right, Filip. It was an honor to be the girl who was voted on. It will be great fun. Get up now, and don’t go back to sleep.”
“I won’t.”

The Lucia parade commemorates a young Sicilian girl, who was martyred for her faith. Elsa will wear a white gown and carry a candle. There will be a parade complete with caroling. How Lucia, a Sicilian, became popular in Sweden is a mystery. Legend has it that she appeared in a glow of light, bringing food during the midst of a famine. The name Lucia means light.

A couple of days before Christmas Eve, Julafton, according to Swedish Christmas tradition, the Swedish family will decorate their Julgran Christmas tree.

On Christmas Eve there is a large, wonderful feast that lasts for hours. Entrées such as ham, a goose, Lutfish, and rice porridge are a few of the traditional dishes. If you are the lucky finder of the almond in your rice porridge, it means that you will be married within a year.

After the lengthy feast, the tree is lit, a bit of porridge is set out, and while everyone sleeps………Tomte or Jultomtem comes, which one depends on your own family Christmas traditions. Tomte is a small gnome who lives under the floor and looks after the family and animals during the year. Jultomtem is a tiny gnome who comes in a sleigh drawn by a goat.

Christmas morning is filled with early morning church services, visiting, and gift giving. An interesting custom is a secret gift giving called Julkapp. The gift is wrapped in perhaps a dozen layers of paper and quickly thrown into a family’s home after the giver knocks at the door.

.A Swedish Christmas ends on Jan.13th, St. Knut’s Day. St. Knut was known as a generous man and king. He ruled as king from 1080 to 1086.

Christmas tree lights

Swedish Christmas Tradition
Swedish Rolls (Kanelbullar)

2 tsp.dry yeast or a comparable amount of fresh yeast dissolved into 1/2 cup of warm milk.
Mix in
3 Tbsp yogurt
1/4c sugar
1/2 tsp salt (do not lessen, it is needed to rise the dough)
1 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
2 1/2 c flour
1/4c softened butter

Kneed for 15 minutes, cover and let rise in a warm location for 30 min. until doubled in size. Roll the dough into a 12 by 12 square. Cover with the Filling and sprinkle lightly with finely chopped pecans if you desire them. Roll up the dough and slice into 1 inch piece. Place them in extra large muffin cups on a baking sheet . Cover and Let Rise for 1 hour.

3 Tbsp softened butter
3 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp cinnamon
After rising:
Brush with milk and sprinkle with pearl sugar
Bake in a preheated oven at 425 degrees for 10 min. until golden brown.

Polish Christmas Traditions

Meaningful Polish Christmas traditions are centered on a lovely blend of faith and family. Their celebrations begins on Christmas Eve. Here is a small slice of the life of one Polish family.

“I’m starving!”
“Oh, Iwan, stop complaining, twenty four hours is only a short fast that we must observe.”
“But, I’m hungry, Aneila.”
“It is only a little bit longer and the Wiglia(watchful vigil) will be over. Think of the feast we are going to have.”
“That’s all I have been thinking of, Aneila. Mama has been cooking and cleaning all day. It smells so good in here.”
“Come, Iwan, lets go watch for the Gwiazdka.” (little star, also a name for Christmas)

Bethlehem starThe Gwiazdka is the first star of the night. They watch for the star to remind them of the star in Bethlehem that guided the three kings. It signals an end of the fasting and a beginning of the celebration. All of the children want to be the first to cry out ,”The Star! The Star!” After it is spotted, there is a great greeting of all the relatives, who have come to the Polish Christmas celebration.

Many of the old Polish Christmas Traditions are still observed during the Wiglia Feast.
Mama has put the white tablecloth on, to symbolize the purity of Christ, and has spread hay under the table to remind everyone that Jesus was born in a manger. Because no one should be left alone at Christmas, she has also set an “extra” place at the table in case a stranger should arrive. After all, Mary and Joseph were turned away from several places, before the innkeeper had a place in the stable.
Papa leads the prayer and breaks the oplatek (unleavened wafer that is imprinted with the nativity scene).
The children are on their best behavior during dinner for they know that Baby Jesus will be putting gifts under the choinka (Christmas tree) while they are eating.

There is no meat served at dinner, but there are large amounts of good food. Beet soup generally starts the meal. Periogies stuffed with mushrooms, onions, and sauerkraut are served along with several kinds of fish. Jesiortr Preczony (sturgeon baked in sour cream) is a favorite served with poppy seed noodles. Fruit compote, prune dumplings and poppy seed cake finish off the meal.

After dinner, everyone leaves the table at the same time. Gifts are exchanged. They spend the rest of the evening gathered around the tree singing koledy (carols).The pasturka (Shepherds Mass or Midnight Mass) is the last of the Polish Christmas Traditions observed on Christmas Eve.

Christmas day is a rather quiet day spent with immediate family. Friends are visited over the next week

Christmas lights

For a Polish Christmas Traditions breakfast feast try this recipe:

Strucla (Christmas roll with poppy seeds)

8 cups flour
1 package dry yeast
1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
4 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups of warm milk

1lb poppy seeds
1/2 lb nuts (I love pecans in mine) finely chopped
1/2 c melted butter
finely grated lemon rind
1/2 c chopped raisins
3 egg whites

Pour boiling water over the poppy seeds. After 10 minutes, drain them and let them dry overnight. This will soften the seeds.
you can then chop them in your blender in the morning and mix with the other filling ingredients. set aside
Dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup of the warm milk. Combine the flour, sugar, salt and eggs with the remaining milk. Then stir in the yeast mixture. Beat until elastic. Sprinkle top with a little flour and cover with a cloth. Let stand in a warm place until double in size. Punch down. Divide the dough into 4 pieces and roll out in a square shape. Cover each with 1/4 of the filling and roll tightly. Place them in two well greased pans leaving them enough room to double in bulk before baking.

After the rolls rise top them with melted butter and bake for 50-55 minutes at 55 degrees.
Top them with powered sugar when nearly cooled.

Mexican Christmas Traditions

Mexican Christmas Traditions: In the true flavor of Mexico, the Mexican Christmas celebrations aren’t reduced to a simple family unit, but instead includes their communal neighborhood: friends, family, neighborhood, and church.

On December16th, thus begins the first of nine days of las Posadas :

“Miguel, stop wriggling.”
“But, you stuck me, Angelina.”
” I won’t, if you stop. We must get ready for the posada It is a great honor to be chosen to carry Joseph on the first night of the posada. You must do a good job of asking for shelter at the houses we go to,”
” I will, Angelina. You are right. It is a great honor, but I like carrying the candles that light our way better.”
” Remember, Miguel, on the Christmas eve when Jesus was born, Joseph and Mary had to ask for shelter at many inns before they found the stable to sleep in. that is why we travel from house to house.”
” The parade is fun, but I think I like the party and the piñatas the best.
“Let’s go, Miguel, our costumes are ready.”

When the parade reaches the final house, they, Miguel (Joseph) and Angelina ( Mary), are not turned away but accepted. The whole parade enters this chosen house, and the host leads them in prayers. Then the party begins. They feast, dance, and play games. Always a piñata is included. Often in wealthy homes there is two or three, and sometimes there are trick pinatas that contain flour or sawdust. These parties often last till very early in the morning. No wonder, the children love the posadas.

Mexican Christmas Traditions:

One of the favorite decoration of the Christmas season is the nacimiento(nativity scene). They are prominently displayed in every home and village. Some are as simple as figures made from colored paper and others are very elaborate. They do not place the Three Wise Men in them until the eve of the Epiphany.

La Noche Buena (the good night) follows the last posada. This is their Christmas Eve and the Misa de Noche Buena Midnight Mass is one of the important Mexican Christmas traditions. Nearly everyone attends, and afterwards, relatives and close friends will gather at one home for a large feast.

Because they reserve the day for the celebration of the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ, most do not exchange gifts on Christmas day.
Mexican children instead of writing to Santa Claus write to one of the three kings: Melchor, Gaspar, or Baltasar.
On January 5th, the eve of El Dia de Reyes(the Epiphany) , the Mexican Christmas Traditions are: First to place the Wise Men into the family nacimento, and second to place their shoes out for the Three Wise Men to leave them a gift or two. Some children will even leave our food for the Three Wise Men and fodder for their camels.

They serve Rosca de Reyes on this night and by tradition they place a small figurine in the cake. The finder, who receives the slice of cake with the figurine, hosts the dinner on the closing of the Christmas Season on February 2nd.

Feliz Navidad Merry Christmas

Curvy Lights

Rosca de Reyes
1 yeast packet dissolved into 1/4 cup of warm milk.
Cream: 1 stick of butter
3/4 cup of sugar
6 eggs
mix in the milk and add: 3 cups of flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp anise
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup chopped raisins.
Kneed on a floured board, brush with melted butter and allow to rise in a warm location.
After a couple of hours, kneed again and cover with bits of candied fruit.
You can chose from candied figs, cherries, orange, lemon, and citron (which I personally do not care for)
Use a couple of Tablespoons of each.
Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes.

Scandinavian Christmas Traditions

Scandinavian Christmas Traditions bring the warmth of light and festivities into the dark night of winter.

Swedish Christmas Traditions
December 13th at dawn:

St. Lucia Bride - Swedish Christmas Traditions

“Filip, get up!”
“Elsa, it’s too early, School’s not for hours.”
“There’s no school, silly. I’ve brought you
rolls and coffee.”
“Oh, I forgot. I forgot it was St Lucia’s day. Umm! Yummy. Who lit the candles on your crown?”
“I did, I told Mum I would be very careful.”
“You’re leading the parade today aren’t you, Elsa”
“That’s right, Filip. It was an honor to be the girl who was voted on. It will be great fun. Get up now, and don’t go back to sleep.”
“I won’t.”

for more Christmas traditions in Sweden and a Swedish cinnamon roll recipe

Christmas traditions, family Christmas traditions

Scandinavian Christmas Traditions

Finnish Christmas Traditions:

Finnish Santa _ Christmas traditions in Finland

Finland is the homeland of Santa and every Finnish child knows that he lives on the Mountain of Korvatunturi in the town of Savukoski. This town is in the northern section of Finland, which is called Lapland. There are many many reindeer in Lapland and, after all, Why wouldn’t Santa live where his reindeer are?

By Christmas Eve morning, the children are all awash with excitement for they know that Finland is the first country on the list of Santa’s stops. As a matter of fact, he stops there on Christmas Eve with gifts for every one.

For more Finnish Christmas Traditions and to see a Finnish recipe for rice pudding.

Christmas Holly

Norwegian Christmas Traditions:A Norwegian Christmas to be continued:

Christmas Holly divider

Scandinavian Christmas Traditions

Denmark Christmas Traditions:

Danish Christmas traditions: Denmark is the country of charming family Christmas traditions. A quaint or old Fashioned Christmas it the term I would like to use, but not in a negative sense. I think the Danes capture something in their Christmas celebrations that has been nearly lost in other parts of the world.

Time spent together especially around the holidays seems to be treasured in Denmark. The spirit of A Child’s life at Christmas Time is captured in Danish Christmas traditions.

Baking Christmas cookies is a family tradition that begins weeks before Christmas during the Advent season. Whether it is rolling, cutting, stirring, decorating, or nibbling; everyone takes part. Gathering around the table with Grandma and Grandpa, and Mom and Dad to ……

For more Danish Christmas traditions

Italian Christmas Traditions

Resplendent with celebration, Italian Christmas traditions
triumphantly announce the birth of Christ to the world.

Boom! Boom! Boom! Sound the cannons at the
Castle of St. Angelo.

It is sunset on Christmas Eve, and the holy season has begun in Rome. In just a few hours there is more traffic than on a work day. With over 400 churches ringing their bells, announcing the birth of Jesus, calling the people to Midnight Mass; you can imagine the heavens receiving the praise and the angels joining in, much as they did on that hillside long ago in Bethlehem.

Across the country, in the northern alps of Italy, an amazing site is unfolding. At midnight to announce the Birth of Christ, the Alpine guides from Cortina D Anpizzo, ski down the mountainside carrying flaming torches. As they crisscross over the slopes, they cause the mountain, itself to appear decorated with Christmas lights. This spectacular event is called Fiaccolate delgi Sciatori.

Some of the most popular Italian Christmas traditions have deep historical roots. For example: the presepio (nativity scene) comes to the world from Italy. Around the year 1220, St. Francis of Assisi commissioned the artist, Giovanni, to create the first three dimensional nativity scene. St. Francis even used live animal to create a moo-ving effect for the worshipers. Actually, this was so very well received that in ensuing centuries, the custom spread across the world. The crèche or presepio has become one of the most enduring of Christmas traditions.

In the home a triangular shelf, known as a ceppo. is used to display the presepio.The manger is generally placed upon the lower shelf. The upper shelves are reserved for decorations and small gifts. Across many cities in Italy, the churches compete in preparing the most elaborate presepio. Christmas eve onlookers will travel from church to church to view the displays.

The Christmas season in Italy opens several weeks ahead of Christmas. The Feast of St. Nicholas is celebrated with festivals on Dec.6th. At La Festa di San Nicola, immense pots are filled with beans and cooked over open fires. They are served and enjoyed by all participants.

In the nine days preceding Christmas, many Italian
towns are visited by the Zampognari. These are shepherds who come down from the mountains to play their instruments in the villages to celebrate the season.The piferari fifers travel in pairs, from house to house, playing the zampogna, bagpipes, and the ciramella, flute. In some towns, it is the children of the town who travel from house to house singing carols. In both cases it is customary to reward the singers for their efforts.

At Christmas Eve dinner, the traditional celebratory feast is served. The most unusual dish prepared over the holidays is served in Rome. Capitone a large female eel is served in a variety of ways and enjoyed by all.

The giving of gifts by Babo Natale, Father Christmas, is overshadowed by gift giving on the feast of the Epiphany. The most unique and strangest of Italian Christmas traditions is the legend of La Befana, the gift giver. According to the legend, La Befana the witch had the opportunity to join the Three Wise Men in presenting gifts to the Messiah but refused.She later repented but could not find the Christ child nor the Three Kings. that is why to this day she travels from house to house presenting gifts to all good children on Epiphany’s Eve.

<br><br>Curvy Christmas Lights

Italian Christmas Traditions
Christmas Recipe

German Christmas traditions

German Christmas traditions have birthed many of the Christmas traditions around the world.They have gifted us with their rich heritage and their abundant joy in the holiday season. Without the Germans, we would be missing the Christmas tree, homemade ornaments, stockings hung by the fireplace and even some of our favorite carols: Stille Nacht ( Silent Night), Away in a Manger, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, and O Tannenbaum.

The German name for Christmas is Weinachten.

The city of Nuremberg is home to the most prominent Christkindlesmart (Christmas market) It is centuries old. It is an outdoor market similar to our county fairs in the US. The booths are opened in late November and only toys, handmade Christmas ornaments and treats are sold there. The market is in the center of town and it surrounds a nearly life-sized Crèche that was made nearly 400 years ago.

The smells of wonderful food fill the air. Spiced sausages, grilled herring, apple and pear butter as well as stollen are all there. Spiced peppernuts, Lebkuchen (gingerbread) and (an almond paste candy) tempt the children and adults to sample Just one more treat. What would a Christkindlesmart be without the German Christmas cookies for which they are famous. A favorite way for visitors to enjoy the market is to shop while sipping upon a cup of mulled wine called Gluhwein (glow wine). It is served piping hot. There is an authentic German recipe at the bottom of the page for you to try.

The seasonal celebration begins with the lighting of the first of four Advent candles. One for each week of Weinachten. On December 6th they celebrate Nikolaustag (St. Claus day). The night before the children leave a boot or shoe outside. Some children leave hay or carrots for his horse. All good children receive a gift. Some children write letters to St. Nicholas while others write to the Christ Child.

In earlier years, some areas of the country believed an angelic messenger was sent on Christmas eve. The Christkind angel, wearing a white robes, crown, and veil would bring them gifts. The Christkind angel’s name later evolved into Kringle.

One of the German Christmas traditions that I find most interesting is that the night before, the farmers would leave hay out for the donkey of the Christ Child. Folklore has it that they believed this act would cause a blessing to be bestowed upon their livestock.

The family tree is generally trimmed by the mother with marzipan (almond candies), cookies, baumgeback (handmade ornaments), and strings of lights. In parts of the country it is a German Christmas tradition that no one else is allowed to see the tree till Christmas eve. The Germans enjoy giving homemade Christmas gifts to one another. Nearly every home has a small Crèche. The Manger Scene is placed beneath the family tree.

Mulled Wine

makes 10-12 glasses


1 bottle of red wine

1/3 cup sugar

1 small sliced lemon

1 3/4 cups water

8 or 9 cloves

4 cinnamon sticks

Simmer the water, lemon , and spices on a low heat for 45 minutes. Strain the mixture and add piping hot wine (not boiling). Serve with a twist orange slice as garnish.