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Christmas traditions as celebrated around the world

Carp is a traditional Christmas food in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Photo bySean and Anne Edison-Albright
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Christmas is a world of best wishes expressed with a variety of traditions.

Nowadays, traveling for Christmas isn't just about visiting Grandma. With the convenience of Internet shopping its easier than ever to travel to a country looking for a White Christmas, curious about fascinating Christmas traditions and taking delight in exploring cultures. Here are a few of the more interesting cultural expressions…

Christmas In Russia
In Russia Christmas is celebrated on the 7th of January. This is so, because the church uses the old Julian calendar for religious celebrations. Russians fast for about forty days until January 6th (Christmas Eve). During the traditional Christmas Eve, people say special prayers. Then commences a twelve-course supper, each meal is dedicated to one of the twelve apostles.

Christmas in Spain
A Christmas tradition in parts of Spain, Portugal and Italy is to set up a model exhibition of Bethlehem. Together with the Virgin Mother, Joseph and little baby Jesus, they place a Caganer in the scene. The Caganer (known also The Crapper, or The Shitter) is a little figure of a peasant wearing a Catalan red cap, in the act of defecating. This is explained with tradition and sense of humor. It is especially amusing for children. The Caganer is fertilizing the Earth. The idea is, that God will manifest himself when he is ready, without regard for whether we, human beings are not.

Christmas in Czech Republic
Women in the Czech Republic perform a strange ritual on Christmas Day to predict whether they will marry next year. With back turned to the house door they throw one shoe over their shoulder. If it lands with the heel towards the door, she will stay single, but if the fallen shoe points towards the door, it means she should start preparing for a celebration, other than Christmas.

Christmas in Norway
The people of Netherlands, who celebrate the holiday on December expect SinterKlaas and his companion Black Pete, who come down by the way of the steamer and leaves candy and nuts for good little boys and girls. The kids have filled their shoes with hay and sugar for the horse.

Christmas in Germany
In Germany Nikolaustag is December, 6th. On that eve children leave a shoe outside the door and the next morning candies appear in them for the good little boys and girls. But if they haven't been good a golden birch is put next to the sweets, as a symbol of spanking.

Christmas in Japan
Many Japanese people on Christmas Eve dine traditionally on KFC, It is so popular and famous, that if you want to eat at a KFC on Christmas, you will have to make a reservation.

Christmas in Slovakia
At the beginning of Christmas Eve the head of the family takes a spoon of Loksa (a traditional Christmas dish made out of bread, poppy seed, filling and water) and throws it up at the ceiling. The more of it remains glued on the ceiling, the richer the crops next year.

Christmas in Venezuela
In Venezuela at Christmas Eve morning the roads of the city are closed to cars so that people can roller skate to Mass.

Christmas in Bulgaria
Here is the place where everybody travels to Grandma's house. The whole family gathers together, and they spend a day of cooking nine meals. When evening comes, the oldest family member burns some frankincense to drive evil spirits away from the house, then the family holds their hands and say the Lord's Prayer together. Carol-singers would drop in around that time.

Christmas is about sticking to those you love, which makes for the true holiday experience, and traditions make it all richer. What's your favourite holiday tradition? Let us know in the comments below...

 

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