Handel: Nine German Arias / Kirkby, London Baroque

Category:Handel, George Frideric. A list of works in the composer category that are not included here can be found on this page. Please consult the manual of style for creating composer work lists.

O praise the Lord with one consent; Chandos Anthem No. Would you also like to submit a review for this item? As with much of the country's culture, the celebration includes Spanish and Mayan elements. Composed for performances with oratorios - probably performed during Joshua HWV Of particular note is the observance of Christmas for military families of soldiers and sailors serving abroad, on both sides of the Canada—U.

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Christmas traditions vary from country to country. Christmas celebrations for many nations include the installing and lighting of Christmas trees, the hanging of Advent wreaths, Christmas stockings, candy canes, setting out cookies and milk, and the creation of Nativity scenes depicting the birth of Jesus Christ.

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Visit the Help Desk. Shopbop Designer Fashion Brands. Warehouse Deals Open-Box Discounts. Amazon Second Chance Pass it on, trade it in, give it a second life. However, he rings a bell just before he leaves in order to let children know that the Christmas tree and the presents are ready. It is a tradition to lavishly decorate a Christmas tree in the days directly before Christmas or on the morning of Christmas Eve.

On late Christmas Eve, after the bell rings, the tree is shown to the children and presents are exchanged. In Protestant churches , there is a service in the late afternoon intended to immediately precede the Christmas Eve meal and the exchanging of gifts. This service, called Christvesper , consists most often of scriptural readings, the Christmas Gospel from Luke 2, a Krippenspiel nativity play , favourite Christmas carols and festive music for organ and choirs.

In some regions the tradition of Quempas singing is still popular. Some Lutheran churches also celebrate a candlelight service at midnight besides the Christmas Vespers in the afternoon or early evening.

The crib is a very important part of the celebrations in Catholic areas especially Bavaria. In the largely Catholic Austria, Christmas markets are a long-standing tradition.

In Vienna , for instance, the market is held in the large square in front of City Hall. Innsbruck opens its romantic Christmas market in the narrow medieval square at the foot of the Golden Roof.

In Salzburg , the Christmas market takes over the square in front of the Cathedral with its picturesque stalls, while the tree vendors occupy Residenzplatz on the side of the huge Cathedral.

However almost every small town has its own Christmas market. In Austria, Christmas trees play a very important part of Christmas celebrations. Every town sets up its own huge tree on the main square all decorated with candles, ornaments and candies and frequently there will be an extra one, adorned with bread crumbs, for the birds.

In families the tree is decorated with gold and silver ornaments or stars made out of straw, sweets and candy wrapped in tinfoil, gilded nuts, etc. The feast of St Nicholas marks the beginning of Christmas in Austria. Austrian Christmas tradition has it that it is the Christ Child himself who decorates the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve and brings the children their Christmas presents, and it is to him that their letters and wish lists are addressed in the weeks before Christmas.

The Christmas Eve dinner is the main event of the night often served with fried carp. The famous sachertorte and different kinds of chocolates are served as dessert. The Austrians also have special crescent shaped cookies served during Christmas time.

In Germany Christmas traditions vary by region. Nikolaus still puts goodies in children's shoes on that day. Nicholas visits children in kindergarten, schools or at public events. They have to recite a short poem or sing a song in order to get sweets or a small gift.

His duty is to punish those children who haven't behaved during the year. Usually he doesn't have much to do.

He merely stands near St. Nicholas as a warning to be good and polite. Nikolaus as well for some Glühwein for adults, there are some traditions connected with local firefighters, riders associations and church congregations. The Sorbs , a minority in Saxony and parts of Brandenbuerg with a language similar to Polish, have some specific traditions. It provides smaller presents like sweets, similar to the Nikolaus and provides blessings, stays however silent.

Christmas letters may be addressed e. After privatization, Deutsche Post kept the tradition of dedicated Christmas offices, one in each state, answering letters and requests from children. Currently the actual Christmas gift-giving German: This tradition was introduced by Reformator , Martin Luther , as he as of the opinion that one should put the emphasis on Christ's birth and not on a saint's day and do away with the connotation that gifts have to be earned by good behavior.

The gifts should be seen as a symbol for the gift of God's grace in Christ. Gifts may be brought by the Weihnachtsmann translation, "Christmas man" , who resembles either St. Nicholas or the American Santa Claus , or by Christkindl , a sprite-like child who may or may not represent the baby Jesus. After the gifts are opened the children often stay up as late as they like, often till the early hours of the morning. The Christmas Tree is first put up and decorated on the morning of the 24th.

The gifts are then placed under the tree. Christmas services in the church serve as well to exchange greetings with neighbors and friends.

After an evening meal one of the parents usually goes into the room where the tree is standing, lights the candles and rings a little bell. Then the children are allowed to go into the candlelit room. In many families it is still a custom to sing Christmas songs around the tree before opening up the presents. Some families attend a midnight church service "Christmette" after the evening meal and gift-giving. The culinary feast either takes place at supper on Christmas Eve or on the first day of Christmas.

Traditions vary from region to region; carp is eaten in many parts of the country. Another simple meal which some families favor, especially in regions where Christmas Eve still has the character of a fast day , is vegetable or pea soup.

In some regions, especially in Schleswig-Holstein where Danish influence is noticeable, a roasted duck or goose filled with plums, apples and raisins is family tradition. In other regions, especially in Mecklenburg and Pomerania , many families prefer kale with boiled potatoes, special sausages and ham.

Many families have developed new traditions for themselves and eat such meals as meat fondue or raclette. In almost all families in all parts of Germany you find a wide variety of Christmas cookies baked according to recipes typical for the family and the region. Fish soup and breaded roasted carp with special homemade potato salad are a traditional dish for the dinner. The gifts are surreptitiously placed under the Christmas tree usually a spruce or pine and lately fir , usually just before or during dinner.

That happens at the end of their Christmas dinner. Other Czech and Slovak Christmas traditions involve predictions for the future. Apples are always cut crosswise: Girls throw shoes over their shoulders — if the toe points to the door, the girl will get married soon. Another tradition requires pouring some molten lead into water and guessing a message from its shapes. Although the role of gift-giver on Christmas Day itself is assigned to the Christ Child, on the night before St.

The day is otherwise a fast-day. In the evening Christmas Eve, in Hungarian: This is the most intimate moment of Christmas, featuring warmly lit Christmas tree and candles, soft Christmas music, family singing of Christmas or religious songs and gift pack openings.

There is also a popular folk custom during December and especially on Christmas Eve, in which children or adults present the birth of Jesus. The custom is called 'playing Bethlehem' Hungarian: A Christmas crib and a church are used as the scene.

The actors go from house to house, and they receive gifts for their performance. In the largely Roman Catholic Poland, Christmas Eve begins with a day of fasting and then a night of feasting. The traditional Christmas meal is known as Wigilia "The Vigil " , and being invited to attend a Wigilia dinner with a family is considered a high honour.

On that evening, children watch the sky anxiously hoping to be the first to cry out, "The star has come! According to tradition, bits of hay are spread beneath the tablecloth as a reminder that Christ was born in a manger. Others partake in the practice of placing money under the table cloth for each guest, in order to wish for prosperity in the coming year. The dinner contains twelve dishes, one for each Apostle. In many homes, an extra place setting is set. The empty setting is symbolically left at the table for a lonely wanderer who may be in need of food, an angel, the Baby Jesus or the Holy Spirit should appear to share the feast.

Before eating, everyone exchanges Christmas greetings with each other. A tradition exists among some families to serve twelve different dishes at Wigilia symbolizing the Twelve Apostles , or perhaps, an odd number of dishes for good luck usually five, seven, or nine. Some practice the superstition that an even number of people must be seated around the table. A traditional Wigilia supper in Poland includes fried carp and barszcz beetroot soup with uszka translated as "little ears", also known as meatless ravioli.

Universal Polish Christmas foods are pierogi as well as some herring dishes, herring fillets, herring in aspic and for dessert, makowiec or noodles with poppy seed. Often, there is a compote of dry fruits for a drink. Dishes beside fish are usually cabbage -, forest mushroom- like boletus and poppyseed -based, with herring being very important. After supper the Star Man arrives attended by the Star Boys.

They are dressed as Wise Men or animals or other figures. The Star Man examines the children in their catechism and rewards them with small presents if they do well, even if they need a bit of coaching. The Star Boys sing carols and are given a treat for their help. The feast begins with the appearance of the first star. The meal is followed by the exchange of gifts. The remainder of the evening is given to stories and songs around the Christmas tree.

In some areas of the country, children are taught that "The Little Star" brings the gifts. As presents are unwrapped, carollers may walk from house to house receiving treats along the way. Christmas Eve ends with Pasterka , the Midnight Mass at the local church. The tradition commemorates the arrival of the Three Wise Men to Bethlehem and their paying of respect and bearing witness to the new born Messiah.

The custom of Christmas night liturgy was introduced in the Christian churches after the second half of the 5th century. In Poland that custom arrived together with the coming of Christianity. According to scripture, the Christmas Day masses are interchangeable allowing for greater flexibility in choosing the religious services by individual parishioners. Celebrations begin with the decoration of the Christmas tree during daytime on December 24, and in the evening Christmas Eve, in Romanian: The singing of carols is a very important part of Romanian Christmas festivities.

On the first day of Christmas, many carolers walk through the streets of the towns and villages, holding a star made of cardboard and paper on which are depicted various scenes from the Bible. Romanian tradition has the smallest children going from house to house, singing carols and reciting poems and legends during the whole Christmas season.

The leader of the group carries with him a star made of wood, covered with metal foil and decorated with bells and coloured ribbons. An image of the Nativity is painted on the star's centre, and this piece of handiwork is attached to the end of a broom or other long stick. Romanian food served during the holidays is a hearty multi-coursed meal, most of which consists of pork organs, muscle, and fat.

This is mainly a symbolic gesture for St. Since the s, the Christmas customs of the Eastern Slavic countries have included a similar character known as Ded Moroz "Grandfather Frost". According to legend, he travels in a magical sanki — a decorated sleigh drawn by reindeer or three white horses. With his young, blond assistant Snegurochka the "Snow Maiden", said to be his granddaughter at his side, he visits homes and gives gifts to good children not true for former Yugoslavian countries.

He only delivers presents to children while they are asleep, and unlike Santa, he does not travel down chimneys, coming instead to the front door of children's homes. It is traditional for children to leave food for Ded Moroz. This Ded Moroz in Russia, Ded Moroz is not identified nor in any way associated with Saint Nicholas of Myra feast day , December 6 , who is very widely revered in Eastern Europe for his clerical and charitable works as a bishop.

In all likelihood, Ded Moroz is actually in Slavic tradition like Santa Claus, any connection to the original saint having long since disappeared. On calendars in Georgia , Christmas Georgian: It is traditional in Georgia to go on Alilo a modified pronunciation of Alleluia , a mass walk in the streets, dressed in special clothing to celebrate and congratulate each other.

Most members of the Alilo march are children and they are given sweets by the adults. The Alilo carols vary across the provinces of Georgia. In most songs these words are used: A local variant of the Christmas tree, called Chichilaki , is made of soft wooden material with curled branches. Sometimes it is hazelnut branch which is carved into a Tree of Life -like shape and decorated with fruits and sweets. The Western custom of a Christmas tree nadzvis khe is also popular and has been imported through Russia.

The Georgian equivalent of "Santa Claus" is known as tovlis papa or tovlis babua in western Georgian dialects , literally meaning a "Grandfather snow", and is traditionally portrayed with long white beard, dressed in national costume " chokha " and wearing a fur cloak "nabadi". As in some other Eastern Orthodox countries, and due to the day difference between the newer Gregorian, and older Julian Calendars, Christmas is celebrated on January 7.

Unlike its Western counterparts, Christmas is mainly a religious event in Russia. The family will then return home for the traditional Christmas Eve " Holy Supper ", which consists of 12 dishes, one to honor each of the Twelve Apostles. Since Christmas has become a national holiday in Russia , as part of the ten-day holiday at the start of every new year. During the Soviet period, religious celebrations were discouraged by the officially atheist state. Christmas tree and related celebrations were gradually eradicated after the October Revolution.

In , in a surprising turn of state politics, the Christmas tradition was adopted as part of the secular New Year celebration. Many of these were brought to Russia by Peter the Great after his Western travels in the late 17th century.

Sviata Vecheria or "Holy Supper" is the central tradition of the Christmas Eve celebrations in Ukrainian homes and takes place in most parts of the country on January 6. In Western Ukraine, especially in Carpathian Ruthenia , due to historical multi-culturism, Christmas can be observed twice—on December 25 and January 7, often irrespective of whether the family belongs to Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church , the Roman Catholic Church, one of the Ukrainian Orthodox Churches , or one of the Protestant denominations.

The Western Ukrainian tradition of two Christmas celebrations, since , are also celebrated nationwide as well. When the children see the first star in the eastern evening sky, which symbolizes the trek of the Three Wise Men, the Sviata Vechera may begin. In farming communities the head of the household now brings in a sheaf of wheat called the didukh which represents the importance of the ancient and rich wheat crops of Ukraine, the staff of life through the centuries.

Didukh means literally "grandfather spirit" so it symbolizes the family's ancestors. In city homes a few stalks of golden wheat in a vase are often used to decorate the table.

The dinner table sometimes has a few wisps of hay on the embroidered table cloth as a reminder of the manger in Bethlehem. A prayer is said and the father says the traditional Christmas greeting, "Chrystos rodyvsya! In many communities the old Ukrainian tradition of caroling is carried on by groups of young people and members of organizations and churches calling at homes and collecting donations.

Traditionally, Christmas Day opens for Ukrainian families with attendance in church services Mass, worship service or Divine Liturgy. Ukrainian churches offer services starting before midnight on Christmas Eve and on Christmas morning.

Christmas supper, without Lenten restrictions, does not have as many traditions connected with it as Sviata Vechera. The old tradition in Ukraine of giving gifts to children on St. Nicholas Day, December 19, has generally been replaced by the Christmas date and it is the Father Frost who visits all the children in a sleigh pulled by only three reindeer.

In Western Ukraine the St. Nicholas Day is marked there on December 6. In much of Northern Europe Christmas is celebrated on December 24 and is referred to as Jul see Yule , while December 25 is a relaxed day for visiting relatives. The Norse believed that the sun was a great wheel of fire that rolled towards and then away from the earth.

Danes celebrate on December 24, which is referred to as Juleaften literally "Yule evening". Also caramelized potatoes is an important part of the Dane's Christmas dinner. For dessert rice pudding is traditionally served — composed largely of whipped cream and accompanied by lashings of black cherry sauce. The rice pudding also contains chopped peeled almonds, and a single whole peeled almond. Whoever finds the whole almond will have good luck for the coming year, and the lucky finder is entitled to a small gift, Mandelgave.

After the meal is complete, the family gathers around the Christmas tree and sings Christmas songs and hymns while holding hands and dancing in circles, and may even tour the house, still holding hands and singing.

When the singing is complete, traditions vary. In some traditions, the family will select one child to hand out the presents. All children take turns handing out presents in other traditions. Alternatively "Santa Claus", the Julemanden , will appear at the door in full costume with a large sack of presents over his shoulder.

He will then distribute the presents, with the assistance of any children present, to their recipients. He should be offered suitable drink to keep him warm and cheerful on his onward journey, but do not expect loquacity — utterances are normally limited to loud and hearty laughs. The Danish are somewhat famous for their Julefrokost, literally meaning "Christmas lunch", which includes various traditional Danish dishes, potentially accompanied by beer and Snaps. These Julefrokoster are popular and held within families, as well as by companies and other social groups.

They would traditionally have taken place leading up to Christmas, but due to time constraints and stress during the Christmas month they are nowadays commonly held during November and January as well. Several television stations produce their own, most, but not all of which are targeted at child viewers.

Some of the television advent calendars become extremely popular and go on to be reprised in subsequent years. In Denmark, Santa Claus is known as Julemanden literally "the Yule Man" and is said to arrive in a sleigh drawn by reindeer, with presents for the children. He is assisted with his Yuletide chores by elves known as julenisser or simply nisser , who are traditionally believed to live in attics, barns or similar places.

In some traditions, to maintain the favour and protection of these nisser, children leave out saucers of milk or rice pudding or other treats for them and are delighted to find the food gone on Christmas morning. In the weeks preceding Christmas or jõulud , children place a slipper in their windows and receive a piece of candy or some other sweets from visiting elves päkapikud.

Estonians celebrate Christmas on December 24, which is referred to as jõululaupäev "Christmas Saturday" [ clarification needed ] and is by act of Parliament a public holiday in Estonia. Each year on this day, the President of Estonia declares the Christmas Peace and attends a Christmas service. The tradition was initiated by the order of Queen Christina of Sweden in the 17th century.

Estonian children are visited by jõuluvana "Santa Claus" on Christmas Eve, and must sing songs or recite Christmas poems before receiving their gifts. For dessert, Estonians eat gingerbread piparkoogid and marzipan. The most highly regarded drinks during this time have been beer and mulled wine or glögi and hõõgvein "glowing wine". Estonians leave the leftover food from Christmas dinner on the table overnight, in hopes that the spirits of family, friends, and loved ones will visit and also have something to eat.

It is also customary to visit graveyards and leave candles for the deceased. Christmas is an extensively prepared celebration centering on the family and home, although it has a religious dimension also. The Christmas season starts from December or even in late November, when shops began advertising potential Christmas gifts.

Christmas decorations and songs become more prominent as Christmas nears, and children count days to Christmas with Advent calendars. Schools and some other places have the day before Christmas Eve aatonaatto , December 23 as a holiday, but at the latest on the Christmas Eve jouluaatto , December 24 , shops close early and stay closed until December Stephen's Day" are mandatory public holidays in Finland [85] Schools continue holidays up to the New Year.

It is a custom in many towns and cities. The most famous one of these declarations is on the Old Great Square of Turku , the former capital of Finland, at noon on Christmas Eve. It is broadcast on Finnish radio since and television, and nowadays also in some foreign countries.

The declaration ceremony begins with the hymn Jumala ompi linnamme Martin Luther 's A Mighty Fortress Is Our God by a band of the Finnish Navy and a male choir and continues with the Declaration of Christmas Peace read from a parchment roll, in both Finnish and Swedish, the country's two official languages:.

The ceremony ends with trumpets playing the Finnish national anthem Maamme and Porilaisten marssi , with the crowd usually singing when the band plays Maamme. Recently, there is also a declaration of Christmas peace for forest animals in many cities and municipalities, so there is no hunting during Christmas.

Finnish people clean their homes well before Christmas and prepare special treats for the festive season. A sheaf of grain, nuts and seeds are tied on a pole, which is placed in the garden for the birds to feed on.

Spruce trees are cut or bought from a market and taken to homes on or a few days before Christmas Eve and are decorated. Candles are lit on the Christmas tree, which is traditionally decorated using apples and other fruit, candies, paper flags, cotton and tinsel, in addition to Christmas ornaments such as stars or baubles.

Actual candles are no longer used, being replaced by incandescent or LED lamps. A star symbolizing the Star of Bethlehem is placed at the top of the tree.

Just before the Christmas festivities begin, people usually take a Christmas sauna. The tradition is very old; unlike on normal days, when one would go to the sauna in the evening, on Christmas Eve it is done before sunset. This tradition is based on a preth century belief that the spirits of the dead return and have a sauna at the usual sauna hours. Afterwards, they dress up in clean clothes for the Christmas dinner or joulupöytä , which is usually served between 5pm and 7pm, or traditionally with the appearance of the first star in the sky.

The most traditional dish of the Finnish Christmas dinner is probably Christmas Ham , roast suckling pig or a roasted fresh ham, but some may prefer alternatives like turkey. Several sorts of casseroles , like rutabaga, carrot and potato casserole are traditional, and are almost always exclusively served on Christmas. Other traditional Christmas dishes include boiled codfish soaked beforehand in a lye solution for a week to soften it served snowy white and fluffy, pickled herring and vegetables.

Prune jam pastries, plum or mixed fruit soup, rice porridge with cinnamon, sugar and cold milk, and sweets like chocolate are popular desserts. Christmas gifts are usually exchanged after Christmas Eve dinner. Christmas Day services begin early at six in the morning and people visit families and reunions are arranged on this day. Boxing Day, or tapaninpäivä St. Stephen 's Day is traditionally set aside for driving around the village tapaninajot , to counterbalance the solemn and family-oriented part of Christmas.

Traditionally, one candle is lit each Sunday until four candles are lit on the 24th. After the meal is finished, they open gifts and spend the evening together. In Iceland people over the Yule holidays most often eat smoked lamb, ptarmigan and turkey.

Pork is also very popular. Thirteen days before December 24 the Yule Lads children will leave their shoes by the window so that the Yule Lads can leave small gifts in their shoes. Each of the Yule Lads is known for a different kind of mischief for example slamming doors, stealing meat, stealing milk or eating the candles. The Yule Lads traditionally wear early Icelandic wool clothing but are now known for the more recognizable red and white suit. Each home typically sets up a Christmas tree indoors in the living room with most decorating it on December In addition to the decorations, presents are put underneath the tree.

It is also a tradition in many homes to boil skate on the 23rd. During the holiday season, it is traditional for families to work together to bake small cookies to serve or give to guests.

Most common are thin gingerbread cookies which are decorated in many different colors of glaze. At the night of the former and morning of the latter Icelanders shoot up fireworks blowing the old year away and welcoming the new one. Thirteen days after the 24th Icelanders say goodbye to the Yule Lads and other mystical creatures such as elves and trolls. There are bonfires held throughout the country while the elves, Yule Lads, and Icelanders dance together before saying goodbye until the next Christmas.

The major day of celebration in Norway, as in most of Northern Europe, is December Although it is legally a regular workday until Church bells chime in the Christmas holiday between In some families the Christmas story from Luke 2 will be read from the old family Bible. The main Christmas meal is served in the evening.

Many people also eat " lutefisk " or fresh, poached cod. Rice porridge is also popular but most commonly served as an early lunch rather than for the main Christmas dinner , an almond is often hidden in the porridge, and the person who finds it wins a treat or small gift.

In some parts of Norway it is common to place porridge outside in a barn, outhouse or even in the forest to please "Nissen". In many families, where the parents grew up with different traditions, two different main dishes are served to please everyone.

If children are present and they have behaved well the last year , "Julenissen" Santa Claus pays a visit, otherwise gifts are stored under the Christmas tree. For a lot of Norwegians, especially families, television is an important part of the earlier hours of Christmas Eve.

Attending one of the many stage productions of Putti Plutti Pott and Santa's Beard is also a very popular tradition. December 25 is a very quiet and relaxed day. Church services are well attended.

The old tradition of a very early morning service before breakfast has been replaced in most areas by a service in the later morning. Afterward many families get together for a large festive meal. December 26 is also a day of many festivities. Cinemas, night clubs and bars are full, and there are lots of private gatherings and parties, where all kinds of traditional Christmas cookies and sweets are enjoyed.

Fatty, tasty dinners are also part of it. During this time children in some parts of Norway dress up as "nisser" and go "Julebukk" — "Christmas goat" — in their neighbourhoods and sing Christmas carols to receive treats, much the same way as in the American Halloween. January 6 13th day of Christmas is commonly regarded as the end of Christmas, while some end Christmas on the 20th day, and some even at Candlemas.

The Yule season was a time for feasting, drinking, gift-giving, and gatherings, but also the season of awareness and fear of the forces of the dark. Swedish Christmas celebrations begin with the first of Advent. Saint Lucy's Day locally known as Luciadagen which is the first major Christmas celebration before Christmas itself. The eldest daughter arising early and wearing her Lucy garb of white robe, red sash, and a wire crown covered with whortleberry-twigs with nine lighted candles fastened in it awakens the family, singing "Santa Lucia", serving them coffee and saffron buns St.

Lucia buns , thus ushering in the Christmas season. Schools elect a Lucia and her maids among the students and a national Lucia is elected on national television from regional winners.

The regional Lucias will visit shopping malls, old people's homes and churches, singing and handing out pepparkakor gingerbread cookies. Boys take part in the procession as well, playing different roles associated with Christmas. Some may be dressed in the same kind of white robe, but with a cone-shaped hat decorated with golden stars, called stjärngossar star boys ; some may be dressed up as " tomtenissar ", carrying lanterns; and some may be dressed up as gingerbread men.

They participate in the singing and also have a song or two of their own, usually Staffan Stalledräng , which tells the story about Saint Stephen , the first Christian martyr , caring for his five horses. Electric candles and glowing stars are placed in almost every window in the month of December in Sweden. Although December 25 juldagen is a Swedish public holiday , December 24 is the day when Santa Claus Jultomte or simply Tomte brings the presents.

Although not a public holiday, Christmas Eve is a de facto holiday in the sense that most workplaces are closed, and those who work, for instance in shops or care homes, get extra wages as a compensation. Public holidays in Sweden for further explanation of this concept. The Jultomte was originally a small invisible Christmas house gnome or dwarf from the Nordic mythology, who watched over the house and its inhabitants.

An old superstition still calls for feeding the Tomte on Christmas Eve with a small bowl of porridge. If a bowl of porridge is not laid out for him somewhere in or outside the house, he will bring bad luck to everyone in the house the next year.

Christmas is, as everywhere else, an occasion celebrated with food. Almost all julbord has Christmas ham, julskinka accompanied by other Christmas dishes, such as small meatballs , pickled herring , spareribs , small hot dogs, lutfisk , pork sausage, salmon, Janssons frestelse potato casserole with anchovy , and rice pudding.

The Christmas julbord is served with julmust and beverage like mulled wine, Christmas beer or snaps. A Scandinavian speciality is the glögg mulled and spiced wine with almonds and raisins , which is served hot in small cups.

The different dishes of the julbord may vary throughout Sweden, from South to North. Businesses traditionally invite their employees to a julbord dinner or lunch the weeks before Christmas, and people go out privately to restaurants which also customarily offer julbord during December. Examples of candies and treats associated with Christmas are marzipan , toffee, knäck quite similar to butterscotch , nuts and fruits: After the julbord on December 24, the presents are distributed, either by Jultomten or a family member, and usually from a sack or from under the Christmas tree where they have been lying all day or for several days.

Many Swedes still adhere to the tradition that each present should have a rhyme written on the wrapping paper, to hint at the contents without revealing them.

If one has two families to celebrate Christmas with, it is common that one of the families move their celebrations to Christmas Day or the day before Christmas Eve commonly referred to as little Christmas Eve.

After December 24, the Christmas celebrations have more or less come to an end. Some people attend the julottan , an early morning church service on December This particular service was the main service of Christmas historically—nowadays, the Midnight Mass has become increasingly popular. Others attend a simpler service called Christmas Prayer in the afternoon of Christmas Eve; however, many Swedes do not attend church at all during Christmas as the country is very secular.

Even so, most families do set up a Julkrubba Christmas Crib. Lucy 's on December 13 depending on what region in Croatia. Nicholas brings children presents, and St. Nicholas is said to be accompanied by Krampus who steals away the presents of bad children. This "anti-Santa" is said to have one cloven hoof, a handful of heavy chains, and a sack on his back to collect naughty children. Lucy's, families will plant wheat seeds in a bowl of shallow water, which will grow several inches by Christmas and are then tied together with a red, blue and white ribbon called trobojnica'.

On Christmas Eve Croatian: On this day, the tree is decorated, the home is decked with greenery and the women already beginning to prepare the Christmas meal. They also bake special types of bread: Badnji Kruh , Slovene: In many villages, straw which symbolizes Christ's birth in the manger is spread around the floors of the home for the Christmas Eve dinner.

As is customary with Catholic people, meat is not consumed in Croatia, while in Slovenia it is. Instead of meat in Croatia and with other food in Slovenia, salad and fish is served, many choosing to eat the Dalmatian specialty bakalar , dried cod fish.

The family then sprinkle holy water on their Yule log badnjak which they light and watch. In villages, the badnjak is freshly cut that very morning by the father of the household while reciting traditional prayers. At the end of the meal, a piece of the cesnica is cut and dipped in wine and used to sprinkle on the candles to extinguish them, while reciting the Trinitarian formula "In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Many families will go to a midnight mass on Christmas Eve and often another on Christmas Day.

It is common for Christmas presents to be placed under the tree, to suggest that the Angel or the Baby Jesus Mali Isus leaves them there while others are attending midnight mass. Presents are opened after the mass. Christmas is a day of celebrating with family; a large feast is prepared and traditional foods such as stuffed cabbage, turkey, pot roast, pita and smoked meat are served, along with various desserts such as fritule , potica especially in Slovenia , strudel , and cookies.

Families mostly celebrate New Year's Eve at home with extended family members, friends, and sometimes neighbours. Women prepare cabbage sarma , which they will eat on January 1 to symbolize good fortune, and steak tartare , which they eat on New Year's Eve on toast with butter. At midnight, people go outdoors to watch fireworks, while Dedek Mraz leaves presents under the tree. Epiphany on January 6 marks the end of the Christmas season.

In Bulgaria, Christmas Bulgarian: Traditionally, Christmas Eve would be the climax of the Nativity Fast , and thus only an odd number of lenten dishes are presented on that evening. On that day, a Bulgarian budnik is set alight. On Christmas, however, meat dishes are already allowed and are typically served.

The pita is broken into pieces by the head of the family and a piece is given to each family member, a valuable possession, and a piece for God. A coin is hidden inside the pita and whoever gets the coin, he or she will have luck, health, and prosperity in the coming year. As in other countries, a Christmas tree is typically set up and the entire house is decorated. However, it has been largely forgotten after , when Dyado Koleda again returned as the more popular figure. The festive period lasts from November 30 to January 6 Epiphany on the Greek calendar.

December 25 and 26 is a public holiday in Greece. Most families set up Christmas trees and shops have decorations and lights. In Greek tradition, Basil's of Caesarea name was given to Father Christmas and is supposed to visit children and give presents on January 1 when Basil's memory is celebrated , unlike other European traditions, where this person is Saint Nicholas and comes every Christmas.

Carol singing is another tradition on Christmas and New Year's Eve. Other Christmas and new year foods include 'Baklava' sweet pastry , Kataifi pastry , Theeples a kind of fried pastry. Christmas Eve on December 24 and 23 housewives make the Christmas cake with a cross in the middle and avgokouloures which are subsequently offered to the elderly and children.

Children singing carols from house to house either before or on Christmas Day. People go to church early the morning of Christmas on December Christmas morning after church there is the practice to become the "pork batches," served with wine to open the appetite, and "thick," done by Eve, which is boiled pork with plenty of lemon that is left to clot overnight.

The pork-food is in the hallmark of Greek Christmas. And in many central squares of the country a big Christmas tree, where many of the Christmas festivals take place.

This ancient habit, whose origin is lost in time. In Mani there are beliefs about demonic and other supernatural beings, who come from the Twelve Days of Christ as the Epiphany. These are the goblins and say that they are the descendants God Pan or Satyrs , who jumped from the mythology in the Christian life. Christmas decorations, including the presepe nativity scene , [] as well as the Christmas tree, are usually put up on this day. Some modern takes on this holiday involve them hanging vultures to symbolize the cleaning of their spirits.

Saint Lucy's Day Italian: Giorno di Santa Lucia is celebrated as a Catholic holiday in Sicily and Northern regions of Italy on the supposed Shortest day of the year which is December Evening candlelight processions called the parade of light are conducted and are followed by the Feast of St.

Sicilians pay tribute to a miracle performed by St Lucy during a famine in At that time, she brought a flotilla of grain-bearing ships to starving Sicily, whose citizens cooked and ate the wheat without taking time to grind it into flour. Lucy's Day, Sicilians do not eat anything made with wheat flour. Christmas is celebrated in Italy [] in a similar fashion to other Western European countries, with a strong emphasis given to the Christian meaning of the holiday and its celebration by the Catholic Church , also reinforced by the still widespread tradition of setting up the presepe , a tradition initiated by Saint Francis of Assisi.

It is quite common to attend midnight mass on Christmas Eve and practice the custom not to eat any meat. The dinner traditionally consists of seafood, with the Feast of the Seven Fishes , followed by typical Italian Christmas sweets, such as pandoro , panettone , torrone , panforte , struffoli , caggionetti , [] Monte Bianco or others, depending on the regional cuisine.

The ancient Christmas festival called Ndocciata is celebrated on December 8 and Christmas Eve in Agnone , Molise , with a parade of torches leading up to the "Bonfire of Brotherhood". Traditions regarding the exchanging of gifts vary from region to region, as this might take place either on Christmas Eve or on Christmas Day.

Presents for children are left underneath the Christmas tree either by Santa Claus called Babbo Natale or, according to older traditions, by Baby Jesus himself. Lucy's Day or later on Epiphany. Festivities extend to the end of the year and then to the Epiphany. On the eve of the 6th, la Befana , the good Epiphany witch, is thought to ride the night skies on broomstick, bringing good children gifts and sweets, and bad ones charcoal or bags of ashes.

In some municipalities, most famously in Milan , the custom of the "Corteo dei Re Magi" Three Kings Procession is elaboratedly celebrated with a parade welcoming the Wise Men, and the passing out of sweets.

Il-Milied in Malta is mostly secular, with a number of Christian-related themes. Midnight Masses are popular amng the older generations, and Christmas processions take place on Christmas Eve with a statue of the baby Jesus in towns and villages, led by the Society of Christian Doctrine.

A public holiday in Malta , Christmas Day is celebrated on December Christmas lunch usually consists of turkey served with potatoes and vegetables Malta is a former British colony.

The island has adopted other popular secular customs and traditions such as the Christmas tree and Father Christmas. Presents are normally generally exchanged either on Christmas Eve or on Christmas Day. A local seasonal food is the "Qaghaq ta' l-Ghasel" Honey Ring. These Maltese Christmas sweets are eaten as a dessert during the Christmas season but can also be purchased all year round.

Christmas cribs are a popular and are seen in most homes. Another Christmas tradition is the planting of common vetch seeds in flat-bottomed pots. They are planted around the beginning of December, normally placed on white cotton and watered every day whilst being kept in the dark all the time. They are usually taken out just before Christmas, and resemble long white spaghetti-like strands of leaves since they would have grown in the dark.

Christmas, an official holiday in Portugal , is widely celebrated and is associated with family gatherings. People who have moved to the main cities, like Lisbon or Porto , or even those who have emigrated to other countries, still travel to their home towns and villages to spend Christmas Eve with their families.

After the Missa do galo Rooster's Mass that celebrates the birth of Christ, families gather around the Consoada , the late supper held on Christmas Eve. The traditional dish is bacalhau com todos dried codfish boiled with vegetables , although, in northern Portugal, the bacalhau is often replaced by octopus. The Christmas dinner usually ends with fatias douradas golden slices , filhoses and sonhos dreams , all desserts based on fried flour or fried bread.

Another traditional cake is the king cake served on Epiphany. Nowadays, although Santa Claus Pai Natal is more popular, in some regions people still believe that it is the Menino Jesus Baby Jesus who brings presents to children. In Serbia and Montenegro , Christmas Serbian: This day is called the first day of Christmas, and the following two are accordingly called the second, and the third day of Christmas.

During this festive time, one is to greet another person with "Christ is Born," which should be responded to with "Truly He is Born. This holiday surpasses all the others celebrated by Serbs, with respect to the diversity of applied folk customs and rituals. These may vary from region to region, some of them having modern versions adapted to the contemporary way of living. The ideal environment to carry them out fully is the traditional multi-generation country household.

In the morning of Christmas Eve a young, straight oak tree is selected and felled by the head of the household. A log is cut from it and is referred to as the badnjak. The burning of the badnjak is accompanied by prayers to God so that the coming year may bring much happiness, love, luck, riches, and food. For the convenience of people who live in towns and cities, they can be bought at marketplaces or received in churches. The dinner on this day is festive, copious and diverse in foods, although it is prepared in accordance with the rules of fasting.

Groups of young people go from house to house of their village or neighbourhood, congratulating each other, singing, and making performances; this continues through the next three days. The Serbs also take a bundle of straw into the house and spread it over the floor, and then put walnuts on it. Before the table is served for the Christmas Eve dinner, it is strewn with a thin layer of straw and covered with a white cloth.

The head of household makes the Sign of the Cross , lights a candle, and censes the whole house. The family members sit down at the table, but before tucking in they all rise and a man or boy among them says a prayer, or they together sing the Troparion of the Nativity. Christmas and other songs are sung, while the elderly narrate stories from the olden times.

On Christmas Day, the celebration is announced at dawn by church bells and by shooting. A big importance is given to the first visit a family receives that day.

People expect that it will summon prosperity and well-being for their household in the ensuing year; this visit is often pre-arranged. Christmas dinner is the most celebratory meal a family has during a year. A special, festive loaf of bread is baked for this occasion. The main course is roast pork of a pig which they cook whole by rotating it impaled on a wooden spit close to an open fire. Gift-giving is, nevertheless, connected with the celebrations, being traditionally done on the three consecutive Sundays that immediately precede it.

Children, women, and men, respectively, are the set gift-givers on these three days. Since the early s, the Serbian Orthodox Church has, together with local communities, organized public celebrations on Christmas Eve.

The course of these celebrations can be typically divided into three parts: The preparation consists of going and cutting down the tree to be used as the badnjak , taking it to the church yard, and preparing drink and food for the assembled parishioners.

The ritual includes Vespers , placing the badnjak on the open fire built in the church yard, blessing or consecrating the badnjak , and an appropriate program with songs and recitals. In some parishes they build the fire on which to burn the badnjak not in the church yard but at some other suitable location in their town or village.

The festivity consists of getting together around the fire and socializing. Each particular celebration, however, has its own specificities which reflect traditions of the local community, and other local factors. Christmas and St Stephen's Day are officially recognized holidays in Spain. Many homes and most churches display a Nativity scene , a Christmas tree , or both.

The pesebre nativity scene is present in many homes, schools and stores. On the 26th, Sant Esteve Saint Stephen is celebrated with a family gathering. There is a wide variety of typical foods one might find on plates across Spain on this particular night, and each region has its own distinct specialities.

It is particularly common, however, to start the meal with a seafood dish such as prawns or salmon, followed by a bowl of hot, homemade soup. The main meal will commonly consist of roast lamb , or seafood, such as cod or shellfish.

Special dishes and desserts include Mariscos y Pescado shellfish and fish , marzipan , Pavo Trufado de Navidad turkey with truffles , and polvorones shortbread made of almonds, flour and sugar. Even though there is still the traditional Misa del Gallo at midnight, few Spaniards continue to follow the old custom of attending.

There is a special Christmas dance called the Jota which has been performed for centuries in Spain during Christmas. On December 31 Nochevieja there is also a large family feast. Children put their shoes in the window on January 5 in the hope that the Three Wise Men will deliver them presents. Some families also attend midnight mass and decorate their homes with Nativity Scenes depicting the birth of Jesus.

Additional Santons little saints may be added in the nativity scenes. Appetizers may include lobster , oysters , escargots or foie gras , etc. One traditional dish is turkey with chestnuts. In Provence , the tradition of the 13 desserts is followed, almost invariably including: Quality wine is usually consumed at such dinners, often with champagne or similar sparkling wines as a conclusion.

Christmas carols may also be sung. In the United Kingdom Christmas decorations are put up in shops and town centres from early November. Many towns and cities have a public event involving a local or regional celebrity to mark the switching on of Christmas lights. Decorations in people's homes are commonly put up from early December, traditionally including a Christmas tree, cards, and lights both inside and outside the home.

Christmas carolers at Trafalgar Square in London sing around the tree on various evenings up until Christmas Eve and Christmas decorations are traditionally left up until the evening of January 5 the night before Epiphany ; it is considered bad luck to have Christmas decorations up after this date.

In practice, many Christmas traditions, such as the playing of Christmas music, largely stop after Christmas Day. Mince pies are traditionally sold during the festive season and are a popular food for Christmas. A common feature of the Christmas season is the Nativity play which is practiced in most primary and some secondary schools across the UK.

This practice is becoming less common, and Christmas pantomimes may be performed instead. On Christmas Eve, presents are supposedly delivered in stockings [] and under the Christmas tree by Father Christmas , who previously had been something like The Ghost of Christmas Present in Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol , but who has now become mainly conflated with Santa Claus.

The two names are now used interchangeably and are equally known to British people, though some distinctive features still remain. Many families tell their children stories about Father Christmas and his reindeer. One tradition is to put out a plate of carrots for the reindeer, and mince pies and sherry for Father Christmas to help him on his way.

The majority of families open their presents on the morning of Christmas Day, the Royal family being a notable exception, as they open their gifts on Christmas Eve, following German tradition introduced by the Hanoverians. Queen Victoria as a child made note of it in her diary for Christmas Eve ; the delighted year-old princess wrote, "After dinner There were two large round tables on which were placed two trees hung with lights and sugar ornaments.

All the presents being placed round the trees.. On Christmas Day, a public holiday in the United Kingdom , nearly the whole population has the day off to be with their family and friends, so they can gather round for a traditional Christmas dinner , traditionally comprising a turkey with cranberries, brussels sprouts, parsnips, Yorkshire pudding and roast potatoes, quite like the Sunday roast , and followed by a Christmas pudding.

The monarch releases a royal message on Christmas Day, in the form of a short programme carried on radio and television.

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