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Online Student Newspaper of John W. Hallahan Catholic Girls' High School


 

Christmas Around the World

Christmas Around the World

Italia                                        Buon Natale

 

Nativity Scene: The most renowned Christmas tradition in Italy is setting up a big Nativity scene in your homes. This tradition was made famous by St. Francis of Assisi in 1223. The tradition became popular during the 16th century and is still popular today.

 

 

La Befana: An old myth told to Italian children for centuries. La Befana (the witch) was an old woman who lived by herself. One night, she was visited by three men. They told her that a baby Jesus was born and invited La Befana to come. She was too busy and did not go. After the three magi left, La Befana decided to fly on her broomstick and go after all, but she could not find the star. She has been flying around ever since and leaves baked goods in the homes of children.

 

 

Food: Panettone, a light, delicious, fruity sponge cake and can be found at your local grocery store!. On Christmas Eve, The Feast of the Seven Fishes ('Esta dei Sette Pesci),  Cenone is a traditional dish of eel. And on Christmas day, Tortellini in Brodo (Tortellini in soup), filled pasta parcels in broth.

 

 

Spain                                    Feliz Navidad

 

Gift Bearers: In Spain, it is believed that three wise Kings give the gifts to the children on January 6 (Epiphany), the date the three Magi gave their gifts to Jesus. Children put shoes full of barley, straw, and carrots for the camels that the three Magi ride on, in replace of the shoes, gifts are left. If the children have been naughty, they leave coal made of sugar.

 

Food: The main Christmas meal is eaten on Nochebuena, or Christmas Eve. The most traditional Spanish dinner is Pavo Trufado de Navidad, turkey stuffed with mushroom truffles. Roscón (ring shape roll) is a very doughy cake that can be filled with cream or chocolate, sometimes a little gift may be found inside. Turron is a special Christmas treat, an almond candy.  

 

Fiesta: The Christmas season officially begins on December 8 (Immaculate Conception), celebrated with a ceremony called Los Seises in front of the great Gothic cathedral in Seville. This elaborate, traditional dance is performed by ten costumed boys. It is a series of movements and gestures that are very precise, said to be moving and beautiful. Other big celebrations include Epiphany Parades. In the parade, each King has a giant float shaped like a camel. Sometimes there are real camels in the parade.



 



Germany                                Frohe Weihnachten

 

Christkind: Children write to the Christkind (Christ Child) and decorate their letters with glued sugar, leaving their letters on the windowsill. The Christkind is depicted as a girl with angelic features and “Christ like” qualities. In Nurnberg, a child is chosen every year to play the Christkind in the parade. She has over 150 duties including visits to hospitals, orphanages, old people’s homes, and nurseries. She even does TV interviews.

 

 

The Very Odd Legend of the Christmas Pickle:  In the 1880s,  Woolworth stores started selling glass ornaments imported from Germany. Many were in the shape of fruits and vegetables, and pickles too. Around the same time, a myth was brought up that the Christmas Pickle was the last ornament children hung on the tree in Germany, but this was completely false. Two other stories bring up the Christmas Pickle. One of these stories is about a prisoner in the Civil War, who was born in modern day Germany. The prisoner was starving and near death. He begged a guard for one last pickle before he died. The guard took pity on the prisoner and gave it to him. The pickle gave him the magical strength to live on. The other story is a medieval tale of two Spanish boys traveling home from boarding school for the Holidays. They stopped at an inn for the night, but the innkeeper was evil and he killed the boys, stuffing their bodies in pickle barrels. Legend has it that St. Nicholas stopped at the same inn and he found the boys in the barrels and brought them back to life.

   

Sweden                                        God Jul       

 

St. Lucia’s Day: Celebrated on December 13, the winter solstice in the Old Julian Calendar, a pagan festival of lights took place on this day in Sweden, it was later turned into St. Lucia’s Day. St. Lucia’s Day is the biggest Sweden Christmas celebration. It comes from stories told by Monks who first brought Christianity to Sweden. St. Lucia was a young Christian girl who would secretly bring food to the persecuted Christians in Rome, who lived in the catacombs, hiding. It was said that she wore candles on her head so both of her hands were free to carry things. St. Lucia was martyred for her faith in 304 AD. This day is now celebrated by a girl, chosen nationally, dressing in a white dress, with a red sash around her waist. She usually has a crown candles on her head, made of Lingonberry branches. These Lingonberry branches symbolize new life in Winter.

 

 

Decorations: Straw is the usual decoration inside houses. The straw reminds them that Jesus was born in a manger. Families sometimes have a goat made of straw to protect the Christmas Tree. In the city of Gavle, a huge straw goat is built every year,  and it takes two days to put up.

 

Australia                                    Merry Christmas

 

Christmas in July: In Australia, Christmas is celebrated in the Summer. Many Australians have their Christmas dinner, midday, on a local beach. Other families enjoy their day by having a picnic. If they are at home, the day is spent swimming in a pool, playing Cricket out the backyard, and other outdoor activities. At many beaches, Santa Claus arrives by a surfboard.

 

 

Carols by Candlelight: Started in 1937, every year on Christmas Eve, thousands of people gather together in Melbourne to sing their favorite Christmas songs. Thousands of candles are lit under the night sky.

 

 

Mexico

 

Posada:  Posadas (Inn and Lodging) are processions that celebrate the part of the story when Mary and Joseph are trying to find an Inn. The posadas start on December 16th and end on Christmas Eve. There are nine Posadas processions in all. The outside of houses are decorated with evergreens, moss, and paper lanterns. In each Posada, children hold candles and a board with figurines of Mary and Joseph and process around the streets. They go to the houses of their friends and neighbors and sing songs. The children then go inside the houses and have parties.

 

 

Piñata: As you may already know, a piñata is a decorated clay or papier mache object filled with sweets that is hung from the ceiling. The piñata is decorated like a ball with seven peaks around it, these seven peaks represent the seven deadly sins.

 

 

 

 

 

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