Advent Calendar
Learn a new Christmas custom everyday
Christmas traditions around the world are wonderful, interesting and sometimes a bit weird but guaranteed to put you in the festive spirit. It's the most enjoyable time of the year. For a few weeks every year the world becomes a magical place, people seem happier and even winter is gorgeous as the Christmas lights glow in the night. Discover the origins of Christmas traditions from around the world day by day.
backiee wishes you a very merry Christmas
Christmas Spider
The cobweb bring good fortune (Eastern European folktale) In the Ukraine, Christmas trees have an extra decoration. This weird ornament is nothing but a spider web. The tradition of spider webs on the tree is based upon a folktale. There once was a widow who lived in an old hut with her children. One summer day, a pine cone fell on the earthen floor of the hut and took root. Children cared for the tree, excited at the prospect of having a Christmas tree by winter. The tree grew, but when Christmas Eve arrived, they could not afford to decorate it with ornaments for Christmas. The children sadly went to bed on Christmas eve, knowing that they would have a bare Christmas tree on Christmas morning. The spiders in the hut heard the sobs of the children and sad cries and decided they would not leave the Christmas tree bare. So, the spiders created beautiful webs on the Christmas tree, decorating it with elegant and beautiful silky patterns. When the children woke up early on Christmas morning they were jumping for excitement when saw the Christmas tree covered with beautiful cobwebs. The youngest child opened the window to the first light of Christmas Day. When the rays of sunlight touched the webs turned them into gold and silver. The widow and her children were overjoyed. From then on, they never lived in poverty again. Therefore, the Ukrainians decorate their Christmas tree with a spider web. It’s believed that the webs will bring good fortune and luck for the upcoming year.
Luca széke (Lucy’s stool)
See the witches on Christmas Eve (Hungarian folklore) In the Hungarian folk tradition this is the most exciting day of the advent in the period of preparations for Christmas. Hungarians not only have birthday, but name day as well. 13th December is the name day of Luca. Named after the Christian virgin, St. Lucy's day (Lucia or Luca’s day - "Luca napja") is one of the richest in customs and superstitions in Hungary. Before the Gregorian calendar reform, it was the shortest and darkest day of the year, and it marked the beginning of the winter solstice. It is for this reason that numerous traditions and magic fertility games are linked to Lucy’s Day. The most widely known custom of Lucy’s day tradition is the making of Lucy’s stool (Lucy chair - "Luca szék"). It is a small wooden stool with three legs. The construction of the chair started on December 13 ended to 24 December, using 13 kinds of wood, and the work had to be spread out to 13 days. They have the idiom about if it is something is really slow: “that it is being made that slowly then Luca’s chair”. Whosoever took this stool to the Midnight Mass on the second day of Christmas and stepped on it could spot the witches in the church. This day has a special meaning from the weather-forecast’s point of view as well. On the basis of the following 12 days weather a prediction could be drawn on next year’s weather. For example: if 15th December was a rainy day that means next March would be rainy too.
Yule Goat; Gävle Goat
Scandinavian pagan Christmas tradition Yule Goat based on Norse legends and worship of god Thor. The story of Yule goat can be traced back to ancient pagan winter festival when goats were burned by Thor, the Norse god. The traditions related to Yule goat have come a long way when its role changed with the change of centuries. In some Norse myths, God Thor was said to riding a flying chariot drawn by two goats. At first, history witnessed Yule goat as a visitor to check whether the Christmas celebrations are over and then, as someone who scared children and demanded gifts. The 19th century witnessed Yule goat as the giver of gifts though Santa took up this role and responsibility in 20th century. The customs and traditions regarding Yule goat are plenty and differ all through the world. While some Swedish towns still erect huge statues of the Yule goat, few Scandinavian towns burn these Yule goats to commemorate the killing of goats. Gävle Goat It’s an odd tradition that adds a dose of suspense to the holiday season. Every year, a giant straw goat is erected in the town of Gävle, Sweden, and every year, arsonists try to burn it down. A local resident explains that this delights many townspeople. The tradition began in 1966, when the first Christmas goat was built in downtown Gävle to attract shoppers. On New Year’s Eve, a pyromaniac set it alight, and was later caught. Since then, the goat has been burnt down 26 times; more often than not, the perpetrators are never identified.
Blessings of Pope
Vatican City, a holy city is the smallest sovereign country in the world. In this country which is the home to Pope, Christmas is one of the most celebrated festivals in Vatican City. The Christmas celebrations in Vatican start with the Novena which comes eight days prior to the festival and closes on the Christmas day. It is the day when people of Vatican, irrespective of young and old set out to Vatican square to seek the blessings of Pope. Vatican City is also known for its vast Christmas celebrations. Christmas in Vatican City has plenty of similarities with the Italian Christmas celebrations and one of the most visited places during the celebrations. It starts on 8 December which is the day of 'Immaculate conception' and 6 January marks an official end to Christmas which is the day of Epiphany. Christmas celebrations in Vatican extend for almost 21 days. Midnight Mass The most important part of the Christmas celebration in Vatican is the midnight mass that starts at the St. Peter's Basilica on the Christmas Eve at around 10 PM. One has to obtain tickets (free) to enter into the basilica. A huge video screen is set up in the St. Peter's square for the benefit of those who could not obtain the tickets. The mass is telecast live across the world. Christmas Day At around 10 AM on the 25th December, the Pope gives his blessings to all the people gathered at the St. Peter's square, from his apartment balcony in the Vatican. This blessing is called 'Urbi et Orbi Blessing' which literally translates into 'blessing to the city and to the world'. The Holy Father then delivers his Christmas message from the basilica's Loggia of Benediction by around noon. This is followed by his offering of apostolic blessing and Christmas greetings in 65 different languages. The Vatican Christmas tree, also called the Saint Peter's Square Christmas tree, is erected every year during the Christmas season in the Saint Peter's Square, in front of St. Peter's Basilica. The tradition began in 1982 when Pope John Paul II, Polish by birth, introduced the northern European symbol of Christmas spirit in Rome. Vatican City is very lively during Christmas.