Traditional Christmas in your country forums

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May 2, 2006
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christmas is coming soon and while i was searching for a good recipe to make gingerbread men (if you have one btw...) i found a french website listing all the little differences in countries, and how you celebrate it. so i thought it'd be nice to share our own versions

in my country it's a family event, we may live at different places in the country, but we reunite all together for this event. i used to spend my first christmas at my dad's parents place, but with dad's job, it became just the reunion of us four (five this year with my brother's gf

december 25th is a holiday, but we celebrate christmas on the 24th (though it may vary in some families). it is traditional for shops to close a little earlier for that reason. we open the gifts on the 25th morning.

you may find some people in the streets selling hot chestnuts.

there are also christmas markets around the country (the biggest and the most notorious being the one taking place at Strasbourg). they sell many stuff, mostly food or handcraft objects. you can find good gifts there. of course, there is also the traditional hot wine (be careful not to drink too much

the big shops also have animated show windows, it's a great thing to do in family, kids love it (and bigger ones too !).

of course, we decorate a tree, and also the house. there are contests on the most beautiful decorated house.

we eat stuff like salted salmon, foie gras with toasts, turkey, my mom serves some vegetables and chestnuts with it. we drink champagne and wine. the traditional dessert is the Yule log, a rolled cake with a butter cream filling. very good, but hard to digest, i am also allergic to butter cream

in the south of my country, they have 13 desserts, cakes and fruits(dried or fresh). which is interesting as my dad told me in his childhood, the christmas gift was usually made of oranges, clementines... but i think with the development of consumer society, the gifts changed to become what they are now.

as my mom is partially belgian, every december 6th, my brother and i get our chocolate Saint Nicholas. though we have grown up, we remain attached to this little family tradition. besides, my mom would call the doctor if we refused an occasion of eating chocolate

a box of chocolate is usually the gift friends will bring when you invite them around christmas. i also remember mom and i bake a lot more than usual, and it's okay to eat more cakes during that time.

I love Foie Gras! So yummie...when we lived in England..our friend Christophe brought some Foie gras and it was divine.

I also tried Finnish Christmas..and that was amazing..we had some friends in Helsinki and it was the first time i tried Reindeer and it is divine!!

I'm not fond of the scottish christmas..haggis..ICk!!! I do like the bread n butter pudding!

We lived in portugal and stayed for christmas and we didn't do anything special except buying a uber expensive bottle of port and that itself was qute memorable.

I have had a few christmases here..and i think it's alright..though there's something appetizing about christmases food in europe!

so, it's the traditional turkey, cranberry sauce..spuds and gravy, salad, overload of crappy hershey's chocolate..all the m's you can eat..and some ice cream.

ohh yea..and had an aussie christmas too..quite similiar to the states..but chocolate and confectionary hell of a lot better! Yum to Cadbury's!!

foie gras is good, but expensive so we only keep it for christmas.

i want some cadbury's chocolate !!

well our traditions are a bit odd, my parents are english but we live in australia, so it's a kind of a mix.

we usually wake up and open christmas presents that we have in big pillow cases with christmas pictures on them that we've had since we were little.

we have a nice picnic lunch or just lie around at home and have the huge traditional english christmas dinner at night, which is turkey, stuffing, potatoes, other vegetables and then a big christmas pudding that we set on fire. It's served with cream and we insert pennies into it, and then the person with the oldest penny is supposed to have good luck in the new year.

it's a very family orientated thing. It's good that we do it that way since it means I can spend christmas lunch with my bf's family. (most australian families have christmas lunch, not dinner.)

we also open advent calendars on the lead up to christmas. It's really cool!

I was born on England, grew up in Scotland and now live in the US, I try to keep the English traditions throughout Christmas though it is hard when here everyone eats a turkey for Thanksgiving, no one wants another for Christmas!! They all think the Paxo sage and onion stuffing is weird here, but that is very traditional for me.

i'm ssssssssssssoooooooooooooooooo jealous of you all! we dont celebrate christmas here. especially in our house. i wake up during christmas and feel sad.... *shrugs* oh well.. im glad that you all will be having great christmas days!

I love reading everyone's post! I'll post mine when I come home from work tonight...

I live in California and the way we celebrate is all getting together as an entire family (usually at my grandparent's house) on the 24th. There's eggnog (with or without rum!) and tons of yummy finger foods to eat while we relax. The morning of the 25th is when my immediate family and I open gifts and then have an amazing dinner in the early evening. I can't wait! I myself like to watch a cheesy holiday movie on Christmas day but I suppose that may be just me!

I've also celebrated Christmas in Tokyo! It's very different in that the holiday is more for young people (couples in particular) to have a romantic, special evening together. Most festivity goes on the 24th and all the bakeries and sweet shops have millions of the most adorable little holiday cakes! These were brought over to share when we had dinner and I was told it's a bit shameful to show up to eat without one. Presents seemed to be reserved for children and between couples in my experience. While I'm used to feeling very cozy and family-oriented on this holiday, in Japan I felt excited and we did go out clubbing on Christmas Eve with so many other young people! "メリークリスマス (Merry Christmas)!" over cocktails with amazing music booming? I loved it!

to my dfamily we have the whole roast dinner, salads etc etc massive catering!!! NO one goes hungry lol

for most of the adults its an excuse to have drinks and get pissed, have laughs and catch up with family, the kids is more about playing games and opening presents.

The lead up to xmas we all decorate the house and a tree, we also go drivin about a week before the 25th and look at all the houses as we also run competitions in most states.

Australians have always been really big about family gatherings and when my family and bfs family have a gathering its like feeding an army.

oh we also have the whole breaking the bons bons and wearin those ridiculous paper hats lol and reading out the not so funny jks that comes with them.

Australians also have charities etc to give to those that who are less fortunate to not get presents for xmas so there is something called the kmart wishing tree, where u buy presents and place them under this tree and then they are sent out to those less fortunate.

xmas here isnt about spending themost money or who gets the best presents it more about catchin up ans spending that ONE day of the year with those closest to you.

we dont have really have a tradition except the head of the family always cuts the ham, and that the presents are given out after lunch.

this yr is very special to me as i love seeing the faces on the kids especially my daughter, she understands wat presents are and seeing her smile is the biggest gift of all to me.

Originally Posted by angellove /img/forum/go_quote.gif i'm ssssssssssssoooooooooooooooooo jealous of you all! we dont celebrate christmas here. especially in our house. i wake up during christmas and feel sad.... *shrugs* oh well.. im glad that you all will be having great christmas days! Aww... I am sorry. You can always celebrate the Holidays... as that season is filled with other holidays and not just Christmas (Hannukah, Kwanzah, etc) - so you can still be in a festive mood

As for my family... well we aren't in the Philippines but we celebrate it here like it is (btw Christmas in the Philippines is so long - starts on the 16th of December and ends on the Feast of the Three Kings in Jan). We have traditional food, the Christmas Ham, the midnight mass, the Parol (a big star lantern to symbolize the star thing the wise men followed).

I never met a turkey until here in the U.S. I always thought it was odd that people opened presents at Christmas day too - but now I am more culturally open

For Christmas we usually do the typical holiday stuff. Decorating an artificial tree (although I like real trees better), other decorations inside the home (candles, wreaths etc), lights outside, buying gifts etc. For Christmas Day I usually go to a relatives house for dinner which consists of so much food (Turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, gravy, mashed potatoes etc) and all the homemade chocolates, cakes, dainties that my cousins make.

I find all the posts quite interesting in regards to how each Country celebrates Christmas. The traditions, food etc. I decided to search if Canada has any special traditions that I wasn't aware of. Here it is..


Christmas In Canada

In Canada, from 1875 onwards, Christmas lost its essentially religious character, at least for Anglophones and the upper middle class. Little by little it became a community festival which gave rise to much family merry-making. New customs began to take root. Henceforth, the decorated Christmas tree, the crche with its santons or plaster figures, gifts and the Christmas "rŽveillon" became part of family tradition.

We decorate a pine tree with ornaments representing Christmas, buy or make each other presents that get wrapped in wrapping paper to be put under the tree so they can be opened on Christmas Day. Santa Claus is the person that who brings the presents. You aren't supposed to know what you're going to get, so that is part of the fun of Christmas Day. On Christmas Eve, December 24th, there is usually a turkey dinner and in the middle of the night, Santa Claus is said to come down the chimney and place the presents under the tree. Then he goes back up the chimney (he's magic) and flies to the next house in his sleigh with 9 reindeer pulling it through the air (it flies). On Christmas Day, all the presents are opened.

Noël à Québec (Christmas in Quebec)

Francophones, however, incorporated these new practices into their culture much later. After the First World War, increasing commercial advertising drew Francophones into the dizzy festive activities. During the 1930s, the working classes also joined this happy Christmas rush.

In QuŽbec, which is the French-speaking part of Canada, we celebrate Christmas by putting up a big Christmas tree, sometime before Christmas. Many people also put a Christmas tree outside with colured lights. Usually we have lots of snow by the time Christmas comes around and it looks very festive. Most people eat turkey for their Christmas dinner, but in the old days people used to eat Tourtire, which is a sort of stew made of a layer of meat, a layer of potatoes, a layer of onions, another layer of meat, potatoes, onions and so on till it is big enough. A layer of pastry goes on top to cover and then you cook it for a long time. Christmas dinner is called "Reveillon" (waking up) and it is eaten when people come back from Midnight Mass, maybe at two o'clock in the morning.

In our family we get a Christmas tree just before Christmas and the next day we decorate it. For Christmas Eve we usually eat duck and then rice pudding with almonds. Afterwards we open the presents from our family - and the next morning we open the ones from Santa Claus. Then my sister and I play with our presents and my parents read the newspaper. For Christmas dinner we have nut loaf and Christmas pudding with custard.

In QuŽbec the end of Christmas is called La fte du Roi (on the 6th of January). For this you make a cake which has a bean inside it. The person who gets the bean is the king (or queen).

In Austria, the Christmas season starts four weeks prior to Christmas Eve when people get an Advent Wreath with four candles (made of fir twig and decorated), and every Sunday one is lit until just one week before Chritmas all four are burning. We have lots of Christmas markets like the ones which Magosienne described, where people can by various things, but most important of all: hot punch. There are dozens of different recipes and all are really delicious. There's also mulled wine and various special delicacies, like traditional pastries or other sweetmeats.

Two very important dates for the children during this time are the 5th and 6th of December, where the good ones get chocolates, nuts and tangerines from a guy called "Nikolo", and who closely resembles Santa Claus but doesn't have any connection with him. He's dressed all in red and white (like the bishop that he was, he's a historical figure that dates back many centuries) with a long white beard. He has a companion, the so-called "Krampus" which you can imagine as a devil all in red and black, with chains and twigs, who is supposed to punish the children if they behaved wrong (which he doesn't do, of course - these two just go together in our tradition).

When Christmas draws closer, the children write a letter to say what they want for Christmas and put it on the window sill. We celebrate Christmas on the 24th, there's a great dinner and the children (and everyone else) get their gifts in the evening. But they're not allowed to see the tree before this time! The presents are not brought by Santa Claus, but by what we call "Christkind". It would translate as Christ-child, and most children imagine it as a little angel with blonde curly hair and a white dress, flying through the window to bring the presents and then sounding a bell to let everyone now it's safe to enter the room and find the Christmas tree (a fir or spruce) all decorated and the candles lit, and of course the presents all spread under the tree, next to a wooden crèche. As long as the children still believe in this story, they don't get to see the Christmas tree before the 24th so that they believe the Christkind is responsible for everything. Many people put a bit of white curly hair (we call it Angel Hair) on the tree to tell their children that the Christkind lost some of its hair whilst decorating the tree so that they believe it really was there.

For dinner, it's traditional to have baked carp with potatoe- and corn salad, or roasted goose with potatoe dumplings and cooked red cabbage or ordinary cabbage with bacon (as a asald or cooked), and lots of pastries afterwards, like "Vanillekipferl" - shortcrust pastry in a crescent shape tasting of vanilla and, if well made, melting in your mouth. At midnight, many people go to Christmas service at the church. The next two days are holidays that are spent with the family or very close friends. Oh, it makes me all nostalgic to think of it ...

Here in Brazil it's a mix of different countries:

At least here at home we open the gifts at midnight of 24 to 25th. At 25th morning the only gifts we open is when we're kids and the Santa theorically leaves there.

The food is turkey with rice and farofa (cassava baked flour), cod fish, Christmas ham, but that also depends on the family. There's people who make lasagna, or a big food like that

In the U.S., it is completely dependent on the family and their ethnic background. For instance, because my husband is from German and Scandinavian stock, you will see things like: lutefisk with white sauce, lefse, spatzel, sausages, etc. Because they are Lutheran, the season technically starts during the Adevent (lighting the three blue candles and the one pink one... I think most Christian persuasions do this.) But the real "Anderson Clan" family celebration starts on Dec 24, nearby family gather to feast, drink, and children opening gifts. At midnight they go to church to see in the Christmas day, and then when they get up in the morning, they drive to go see other family who are further away.

My family has no other family nearby or even within a days driving distance, so we didn't really go any where. My mother growing up, did the whole Dec 24 open gifts, Dec 25 celebrate thing. However, my dad has strongly influenced it to always be only Dec 25. We opened presents in the late morning, ate in the late afternoon, and then done. At the meal we had some traditional American stuff like: turkey and gravy, some kind of potato or yams, apple and pumpkin pies. But then we would have traditional Igbo cuisine: Jalof rice, fried plantains, "puff-puff", chin-chin, etc.

Originally Posted by Shelley /img/forum/go_quote.gif In QuŽbec the end of Christmas is called La fte du Roi (on the 6th of January). For this you make a cake which has a bean inside it. The person who gets the bean is the king (or queen).

funny we have that too, very similar. the cake is just puff pastry (two actually) the filling is frangipani. delicious. we gather in family or with friends, the youngest goes under the table and says for who every portion is for. the the one getting the bean (now it's mostly a small porcelain character, my mom collects them) becomes the king or queen and chooses his/her king/queen.

Originally Posted by pinksugar /img/forum/go_quote.gif we also open advent calendars on the lead up to christmas. It's really cool! we have some too ! mostly it's for children, i used to complain about the size of the chocolate inside ! my mom and i recently were looking at a christmas catalogue and they made special advents calendars for cats and dogs, one croquette per day. we were just so laughing !
Christmas season and decorating starts with Advent in December. I also don't take my decorations down until Epiphany on Jan 6. My family has always celebrated on Christmas Eve. My parents, brother, grandfather, and great-uncle all come over. We unwrap gifts and then eat dinner. We have always served grilled cheese with Chili and Potato soup. Then we go to late mass.

When I was younger we went to my grandparents for Christmas and grandma would set out a huge spread. Ham, turkey, stuffing, oyster stuffing, onion bread, rolls, 3 types of pies, brownies, relish tray, mashed potatoes and gravy. Lots of good food. Now that we have all grown older and grandma has passed away we have the 3 grandparents over for dinner. Usually Ham and Turkey. Dad did a prime rib last year. Then stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy etc.

My family has always opened gifts on Chrismtas Eve with something small in the stockings in the morning. I think we have quite a bit of my grandma's German Catholic traditions.

Man, I am hungry now.

Christmas used to be a bigger deal for our family than it is now...Like, back when I was a little kid, you know? Now, we just go to my grandma's after opening presents at my house. We eat dinner there, and then go's like a normal day...It was so much more fun before my little sister was born.

that's sad Hana. why not change the place where you're eating (if that's possible)? why not invite the grandma to have dinner at your house ? i think christmas spirit sometimes has to be helped a bit, but i agree with you, when i was a kid it was funnier.


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