Christmas is just around the corner and to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year we’re bringing you a series of Christmas-themed blogs ranging from Christmas markets and festive traditions, to delicious food both savoury and sweet.
We’re back with the second part of our Christmas Blog Series and this time we’re delving into Christmas traditions around the world.
Christmas celebrations begin on The Feast of Immaculate Conception (6th December), which is also a national holiday. To mark the occasion decorations such as Christmas trees, nativities and cribs are places around homes and in public places.
The 6th December sees the start of the gift-giving season in Italy and there are 4 days in total when presents are exchanged. The most unusual day is 6th January when La Befana (the good witch) fills the stockings of children across Italy with sweets if they’ve been good and coal for those that have misbehaved.
Legend states that La Befana also swept the floors of the homes she visited to brush away the problems of the previous year. It is said that her housework kept her away from accompanying the three kings on their quest to find baby Jesus. When she realised that she has missed her chance, she set off on her own with a bag of gifts to find the baby. Nowadays, La Befana is an icon of Italian Christmas.
Christmas trees are a feature of the season in Mexico; however, nativity scenes are more common. Public Nacimientos (traditional nativity scene) are put on display from 6th December, however, baby Jesus isn’t added to the scene until the night of 24th December. The three kings aren’t added to the nativity until 5th January.
Christmas Eve is known as Nochebuena and is the last night of Posada (the story of Joseph and Mary finding shelter), people attend midnight mass and then dine with their families.
Christmas Day is a quiet affair an gifts aren’t usually exchanged; however, Santa Claus is becoming increasingly popular Mexico so this may change in the future.
As Greece is a maritime country, boats are decorated for Christmas and often placed in town squares. Christmas trees were a foreign custom and were initially introduced to Grecians by Otto, the first king of Greece who originated from Bavaria. Christmas trees have become integrated within Greek culture some mountainous towns decorate fir tress which are put in homes and town centres.
On Christmas Eve, children go from home to home in their neighbourhood to sing kalanta, Greek Christmas carols, to give their best wishes to the neighbours. They are usually given sweets, dried fruits and money.
In Bridgetown, Christmas lights illuminate the streets not unlike other cities across the world. However, from 1st November, blue and yellow lights are turned on to represent Barbados’ Independence. From 1st December, the lights are changed to red and green to represent Christmas.
On Christmas Day morning, Barbadians take a stroll through Queen’s Park in their best attire. Men wear suits that have been especially tailored for this event and women wear lavish ballgowns. This walk has become so important to Barbadians that it is often televised and features on the front page of newspapers the following morning.
Croatians love to give gifts and Sveti Nikola (St Nicholas’ Day) on 6th December marker the beginning of the gift-giving season. On the eve of 6th December children polish their boots and put them on the window sill, hoping St Nicholas will bring them gifts.
Children who have been naughty receive sticks from Krampus, the hairy demon that accompanies St Nicholas, so that parents know who has been bad.
Candles have always been an important Christmas tradition in Croatia and are commonly places in the middle of a plate where Christmas wheat is grown.
Missed the first instalment of our Christmas Blog Series? No worries, click here to read it now!
The Italian Lakes – 8 days from £749 per person
- Visit the three Borromean Islands
- Journey into Switzerland on the scenic Centovalli narrow-gauge railway
- See the beautiful Renaissance city of Turin and enjoy afternoon tea Italian-style
- Explore the typically alpine village of Macugnaga on the slopes of the Monte Rosa massif
- Stay in a hotel only metres from the lake shore
Croatia and Montenegro – 8 days from £789 per person
- Visit the picturesque town or Perast on the Bay of Kotor in Montenegro
- Enjoy a day at leisure to discover Dubrovnik’s rich culture and iconic Baroque architecture
- Explore Croatia’s 2nd largest city, Split, discovering the Diocletian Palace.
- Marvel at the stunning waterfalls of Krka’s National Park