Following on from last year’s blog on Christmas Traditions around the World, here at Express Language Solutions, we thought it would be only fitting to look at those of some other countries that were not previously mentioned.
Christmas in Poland is a major annual celebration. During advent a number of traditions are carried out. The Polish Piernik (gingerbread) is baked and often made into different shapes (hearts, stars etc.)
Christmas decorations are also crafted including baubles, garlands and ornaments. A special kind of wafer known as Opłatek is shared between people. It is very thin and has a religious image related to nativity embossed on it such as The Virgin Mary or Jesus or even the star of Bethlehem. The sharing of the wafer is important and symbolizes forgiveness and well-wishes between participants for the rest of the year.
Christmas Eve, known as Wigilia is of highest importance in Poland, in which a feast is consumed after fasting. Wigilia derives from the Latin vigilare meaning ‘to watch’. Typical dishes consumed during the meal include: mushroom soup, dumplings, known as uszka, and fish (namely carp).
Furthermore, it is customary to leave an empty seat at the dinner table for any passing visitor who may want to join in with the feast. This tradition derives from the story of Mary and Joseph looking for a place at the inn. Therefore, with an empty seat reserved for wanderers, nobody is left out in the cold at Christmas.
Afterwards people attend midnight mass (Pasterka) and sing carols.
Traditionally, the bringing of gifts from Father Christmas known as Swiety Mikolaj (St. Nicholas) occurs on 6 December .
It is believed that Finland is the homeland of Father Christmas. According to tradition, he lives in the North of Finland in Lapland. As a result, tens of thousands of letters are sent each year to Father Christmas, known in Finnish as Joulupukki by children all around the world.
Unlike other traditions, such as in the UK in which Father Christmas arrives in peoples’ homes through the chimney at night, in Finland he arrives on Christmas Eve and knocks on peoples’ doors before entering and asking if there are any good children in the house and giving out presents.
Once again, Christmas Eve is a much bigger celebration that Christmas day. It is customary to eat a certain type of Finnish porridge for breakfast in the morning followed in the evening by Christmas dinner which usually consists of dishes such as roast ham, different casseroles and breads.
Christmas day in itself is a relatively quiet affair in which people tend to stay at home and relax with their families.
In Moldova, Christmas is celebrated on 7 January. However, Catholics still celebrate the day on 25 December. For the Orthodox majority, people attend church in the morning.
Afterwards, children go carol singing door to door. For their efforts they are rewarded with sweets and sometimes money as well.
After returning from church, the Christmas dinner is served and eaten. A special sweet dish that is served on Christmas day is comprised of boiled wheat with nuts. The wheat is seen to bring prosperity for the coming year.
Father Christmas is known in Moldovan/Romanian as Moș Crăciun who tends to give out presents to children in the New Year.
The Christmas dinner traditionally includes a selection of meats such as jellied pork or chicken, and cakes and biscuits are often served after the eating of the main meal.
In France, although in more recent times the Christmas tree (sapin de Noël) is used as a festive decoration, the Nativity crèche is more important and traditional to French culture. If a Christmas tree is used, it is decorated with red ribbons, candles and small toys.
The Christmas dinner varies from region to region in France. Commonly, in Paris it is comprised of a sea-food based platter including dishes such as foie gras and oysters, whilst in Burgundy Turkey is commonly consumed and in Alsace it is goose that is often feasted upon for dinner.
Children leave their shoes out for Father Christmas (Père Noël) to place small gifts into them.
As just a few examples of how Christmas is celebrated around the world, we would love to hear your views and stories of how Christmas is celebrated in your country.
Furthermore, is Father Christmas in your country known to just speak your language, or is he viewed as multilingual?
Here at Express Language Solutions we wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.