Traditions

Traditions

Christmas in America

Santa Claus was born in US in the 1860's he was named this as he had a white beard and a belly, so he was named Santa Claus as this was the Dutch word for St Nicholas, Sintaklaas. Although the Dutch had bought him with them in the 17th century, he did not become an important person at Christmas until the Novelist Washington Irving put him in a novel that he wrote in 1809. This first Santa Claus was still known as St. Nicholas, he did smoke a pipe, and fly around in a wagon without any reindeer, but he did not have his red suit or live at the North Pole, he did however bring presents to children every year.In 1863 He was given the name Santa Claus and bore the red suit, pipe, and his reindeer and sleigh.

In America the traditional Christmas dinner is roast turkey with vegetables and sauces. For dessert it is rich, fruity Christmas pudding with brandy sauce. Mince pies, pastry cases filled with a mixture of chopped dried fruit.

The majority of Americans celebrate Christmas with the exchange of gifts and greetings and with family visits. For many, the day begins on Christmas Eve with the Midnight Mass. At Christmas it snows in many states, so dinner is usually eaten indoors. Dinner usually is roast turkey, goose, duck or ham served with cranberry sauce, then plum pudding or pumpkin pie followed by nuts and fruit.

American homes are decorated with holly, mistletoe and branches of trees, most have a Christmas tree hung with electric lights, tinsel, baubles, and strings of popcorn and candy canes.

Christmas in Germany

Christmas preparations often begin on the eve of December 6th. People often set aside special evenings for baking spiced cakes and cookies, and making gifts and decorations. Little dolls of fruit are traditional Christmas toys. Christmas preparations often begin on the eve of December 6th. People often set aside special evenings for baking spiced cakes and cookies, and making gifts and decorations. Little dolls of fruit are traditional Christmas toys. Christmas preparations often begin on the eve of December 6th. People often set aside special evenings for baking spiced cakes and cookies, and making gifts and decorations. Little dolls of fruit are traditional Christmas toys.

Children leave letters on their windowsills for Christkind, a winged figure dressed in white robes and a golden crown who distributes gifts. Sometimes the letters are decorated with glue and sprinkled with sugar to make them sparkle.

Germans make beautiful gingerbread houses and cookies. The German Christmas tree pastry, Christbaumgeback, is a white dough that can be molded into shapes and baked for tree decorations.

In parts of Germany, people believe that the Christ Child sends a messenger in Christmas Eve. He appears as an angel in a white robe and crown, bearing gifts. The angel is called Christkind. There is also a Christmas Eve figure called Weihnachtsmann or Christmas Man, he looks like Santa Claus and also brings gifts.

Some homes in Germany have several Christmas trees, and in all towns across Germany, they can be seen glittering and glowing.

In Germany they hang up advent wreaths of Holly with four red candles in the center. They light one candle each Sunday and last on Christmas Eve. Children count the days until Christmas using an Advent calendar. They open one window each day and find a Christmas picture inside.

In Germany the traditional visitor is the Christkindl who is the Christ Child's messenger. She is a beautiful fair-haired girl with a shining crown of candles who visits each house with a basket of presents.

In some homes a room is locked up before Christmas. On Christmas Eve the children go to bed but are woken up at midnight by their parents and taken down to the locked room. The door is opened and they see the tree all lit up, with piles of parcels on little tables.

In Germany boys dress up as kings and carry a star round the village, singing carols.

Christmas in Ireland

Irish women bake a seed cake for each person in the house. They also make three puddings, one for each day of the Epiphany such as Christmas, New Year's Day and the Twelfth Night.

After the Christmas evening meal, bread and milk are left out and the door unlatched as a symbol of hospitality.

St Stephen's Day, the day after Christmas, is almost as important, with football matches and meetings going on. For children, the Wren Boys Procession is their big event. Boys go from door to door with a fake wren on a stick, singing, with violins, accordions, harmonicas and horns to accompany them. The reason for the ceremony is to ask for money 'for the starving wren', that is, for their own pockets.

Children often put out Christmas sacks instead of stockings.

It is tradition to leave mince pies and a bottle of Guinness out as a snack for Santa.