Ovi -
we cover every issue
newsletterNewsletter
subscribeSubscribe
contactContact
searchSearch
Poverty - Homeless  
Ovi Bookshop - Free Ebook
worldwide creative inspiration
Ovi Language
George Kalatzis - A Family Story 1924-1967
The Breast Cancer Site
Tony Zuvela - Cartoons, Illustrations
International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement
 
BBC News :   - 
iBite :   - 
GermanGreekEnglishSpanishFinnishFrenchItalianPortugueseSwedish
Christmas in ...Europe Christmas in ...Europe
by Euro Reporter
2011-12-25 09:52:31
Print - Comment - Send to a Friend - More from this Author
DeliciousRedditFacebookDigg! StumbleUpon
Christmas in Italy: The Christmas season in Italy goes for three weeks, starting 8 days before Christmas known as the Novena. During this period, children go from house to house reciting Christmas poems and singing. In some parts shepherds bring musical instruments into the villages, play and sing Christmas songs.

In the week before Christmas children go from house to house dressed as shepherds, playing pipes, singing and reciting Christmas poems. They are given money to buy presents. A strict feast is observed for 24 hours before Christmas Eve, and is followed by a celebration meal, in which a light Milanese cake called panettone features as well as chocolate.

Presents and empty boxes are drawn from the Urn of Fate - lucky dip, which always contains one gift per person. By twilight, candles are lighted around the family crib known as the Presepio, prayers are said, and children recite poems. At noon on Christmas Day the pope gives his blessing to crowds gathered in the huge Vatican square.

In Italy the children wait until Epiphany, January 6, for their presents. According to tradition, the presents are delivered by a kind ugly witch called Befana on a broomstick. It was said that she was told by the three kings that the baby Jesus was born; she was busy and delayed visiting the baby. She missed the Star lost her way and has been flying around ever since, leaving presents at every house with children in case he is there. She slides down chimneys, and fills stockings and shoes with good things for good children and it is said leaves coal for children who are not so good.

Christmas preparations often begin on the eve of December 6th. People often set aside special evenings for baking spiced cakes and cookies, and making gifts and decorations. Little dolls of fruit are traditional Christmas toys. Children leave letters on their windowsills for Christkind, a winged figure dressed in white robes and a golden crown who distributes gifts. Sometimes the letters are decorated with glue and sprinkled with sugar to make them sparkle.

Germans make beautiful gingerbread houses and cookies. The German Christmas tree pastry, Christbaumgeback, is white dough that can be melded into shapes and baked for tree decorations. In parts of Germany, people believe that the Christ Child sends a messenger in Christmas Eve. He appears as an angel in a white robe and crown, bearing gifts. The angel is called Christkind. There is also a Christmas Eve figure called Weihnachtsmann or Christmas Man, he looks like Santa Claus and also brings gifts.

Some homes in Germany have several Christmas trees, and in all towns across Germany, they can be seen glittering and glowing. In Germany they hang up advent wreaths of Holly with four red candles in the centre. They light one candle each Sunday and last on Christmas Eve. Children count the days until Christmas using an Advent calendar. They open one window each day and find a Christmas picture inside.

In Germany the traditional visitor is the Christkindl who is the Christ Child's messenger. She is a beautiful fair-haired girl with a shining crown of candles who visits each house with a basket of presents. In some homes a room is locked up before Christmas. On Christmas Eve the children go to bed but are woken up at midnight by their parents and taken down to the locked room. The door is opened and they see the tree all lit up, with piles of parcels on little tables. In Germany boys dress up as kings and carry a star round the village, singing carols.

Christmas in Belgium: In Belgium there are two Santa Claus figures. There is St. Nicholas and Pere Noel. St Nicholas visits those who speak the Waloon language; in fact he visits them twice. The first time is on the December 4th he does this so he can find out which children have been good and which children have been bad. If a child is good he returns on December 6th with the presents the good children deserve if they were bad they are left twigs. The good children usually received candy and toys. With the bad children he leaves the twigs inside their shoes or in small baskets that are left just inside the doorway.

Pere Noel visits those who speak French. He visits with his companion Pere Fouettard and asks about whether the children have been good or bad. If they have been good they receive chocolates and candies if they have been bad they are more likely to receive a handful of sticks. Christmas for both gift-givers is on December 6th, the feast of St Nicholas, it is a religious occasion and is observed with services in churches and quiet family gatherings. Special cakes are baked and served during the holiday season and are a treat for children and adults.

The other part is called "Flanders" where they speak Dutch. St-Nicholas doesn't have anything to do with Christmas. It's His Birthday on December 6th, and then he visits all children to bring them presents. And then there is Christmas, December 25. The day Jesus Christ was born. The last years the American tradition around Christmas is coming over here. By movies and storybooks.

Now Children get gifts under the Christmas tree also. But this isn't the same everywhere. But it mostly depends on the parents. At some family, they buy gifts for each other and put them under the tree. There's no Santa to bring them. In others, mostly when there are still li'l children it's Santa who brings the gifts and puts them under the tree. That can be on Christmas Eve, but sometimes in the weeks before Christmas. Gifts are opened on the evening before Christmas, after a Christmas dinner, or the midnight mass, or on Christmas morning.

Christmas in Greece: St. Nicholas is important in Greece as the patron saint of sailors. According to Greek tradition, his clothes are drenched with brine, his beard drips with seawater, and his face is covered with perspiration because he has been working hard against the waves to reach sinking ships and rescue them from the angry sea. Greek ships never leave port without some sort of St. Nicholas icon on board.

On Christmas Eve small boys to the beating of drums and the tinkling of triangles usually sing carols. They go from house to house and are given dried figs, almonds, walnuts and lots of sweets or sometimes small gifts. After 40 days of fasting, the Christmas feast is looked forward to with great anticipation by adults and children alike. Pigs are slaughtered and on almost every table are loaves of christopsomo or "Christ Bread". This bread is made in large sweet loaves of various shapes and the crusts are engraved and decorated in some way that reflects the family's profession.

Christmas trees are not commonly used in Greece. In almost every home the main symbol of the season is a shallow wooden bowl with a piece of wire is suspended across the rim; from that hangs a sprig of basil wrapped around a wooden cross. A small amount of water is kept in the bowl to keep the basil alive and fresh. Once a day, a family member, usually the mother, dips the cross and basil into some holy water and uses it to sprinkle water in each room of the house. This ritual is believed to keep the Killantzaroi away from the house.

There is a tradition kallikantzeri, where the mischievous goblins appear from the earth during the 12 days of Christmas. At Christmas very few presents are given to each other. Instead, small gifts are given to hospitals and orphanages. Priests sometimes go from house to house sprinkling holy water around to get rid of the bad spirits who may be hiding in people's houses.

In most Greek homes an evergreen tree is decorated with tinsel and a star placed on top. Gifts are exchanged on January 1st, St Basil's Day. On Christmas Eve, groups of people gather around the holiday table. Figs, dried on rooftops are served with the spicy golden Chrisopsomo bread. As people are they greet one another by saying Hronia polla or many happy years. The table filled with food may include such dishes as kourambiethes, a Greek nut cookie.




   
Print - Comment - Send to a Friend - More from this Author

Comments(2)
Get it off your chest
Name:
Comment:
 (comments policy)

Emanuel Paparella2009-12-25 12:14:01
If I can add a footnote on the Presepio or the Nativity scene. That tradition was started by none other than St. Francis of Assisi as a live scene with shepherds coming down from the mountains with lit torches to worship a live baby representing the newborn savior in a mountain grotto with Mary represented by a beautiful Italian girl and St. Joseph by an Italian young man. It is still recreated today in Assisi. That tradition had a profound influence on Italian culture, not only in a religious sense, but as much as it influenced the origins of Italian humanistic painting, to wit Giotto and his frescos from the life of St. Francis depicted in the cathedral of St. Francis in Assisi. In those frescoes one admires the harmony achieved by Giotto and indeed many humanists between the natural and the supernatural which was also the harmony achieved by St. Francis who believed that one gets to a transcendent God via the love of nature and the creatures within nature and that nothing material and temporal is to be despised. He also believed that such an appreciation of nature can only be achieved when greed in all its forms has been eliminated from one’s life. The first poem of the Italian language that all grammar school children in Italy memorize is the Canticle of Creatures by St. Francis which begins thus “Laudato sii mi Signore per Frate Sole…” [blessed be my Lord for Brother Sun…] and then goes on to bless moon and stars and many creatures of the earth. Zeffirelli has directed a wonderful movie on Francis of Assisi titled “Brother Sun, Sister Moon” that ought to be watched by all those who love the Christmas Spirit.


Thanos2009-12-25 21:56:22
thanks and best wishes!!! :)


© Copyright CHAMELEON PROJECT Tmi 2005-2008  -  Sitemap  -  Add to favourites  -  Link to Ovi
Privacy Policy  -  Contact  -  RSS Feeds  -  Search  -  Submissions  -  Subscribe  -  About Ovi