CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS AROUND THE WORLD
I thought this year instead of a story I would tell you about how people celebrate the season all around the earth.
Australia: Among popular Christmas carols Aussies enjoy are songs written about their
country including “Six White Boomers,” “Santa Never Made It To Darwin” and “White Wine In The Sun.”
Austria: Saint Nicholas, wearing a shining Bishop’s robe and accompanied by his companion, a little devil named Knecht Rupbnect, gives sweets and apples to good children on December 6. Rupbnect, on the other hand carries a golden rod, which he uses to swat bad children.
Brazil: There is an ancient legend that tells us even the animals spoke to each other about the birth of Jesus (in Portuguese, the language of the country).
The rooster announced, “The Christ child was born.”
The bull asked, “Where?”
The flock of sheep answered, “In Bethlehem in Judea.”
Denmark: The celebration includes “Nisse,” a small mythical creature you really want to please because he can control your future. To gain his favor, on Christmas Eve people put out a bowl of porridge. The Nisse is usually depicted as a small old man wearing a gray sweater and trousers, a red cap, red stockings and wooden shoes. He is thought to live for hundreds of years.
Finland: Part of the celebration is to pay tribute to the dead. Families light candles at the graves of departed loved ones, giving graveyards a lovely appearance.
Guatemala: People sweep their houses before Christmas. Each neighborhood combines the sweepings to make a large pile of dirt. Then people put an effigy of the devil on top and burn it.
Greece: In Greece Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of sailors. Ships never leave port without some sort of Saint Nicholas icon aboard. Saint Nicholas is believed to wear clothing soaked in seawater, to have salt water dripping from his beard and to perspire heavily from his efforts at rescuing sinking ships. Homes celebrate the season by having a shallow wood bowl with basil wrapped around a wooden cross. Water is kept in the bowl to keep the basil fresh. Once a day the basil and cross are dipping in holy water so that each room of the house can be sprinkled to keep away the mischievous spirits known as killantzaroi.
Holland: The major Celebration takes place on December 5, although Saint Nicholas’s Day is December 6. Children are told that Santa rides a white horse over the rooftops. Good children will get presents but bad children will be stuffed in a bag and taken to Spain for a year so they can learn how to behave. Often parties are held where children are given poems and clues so they can go on a treasure hunt for their presents.
Italy: By tradition the holiday is announced by pipers descending from the mountains of Abruzzo and Latium playing music of the season. On Christmas Eve children put out there shoes and a woman (a good witch) called La Befana fills them with toys, candy and fruit if the children were good. Bad children find their shoes filled with coal.
Norway: People who live here could not follow the tradition in Guatemala. They hide their brooms at Christmas so that witches and evil spirits cannot steal them.
So, lets all sing Six White Boomers. No, I don’t know the words. Do you? If you find out what a Boomer is, let me know. Beware of those tricky killantzaroi. Don’t let Knecht Rupbnect sneak up behind you. Be sure to be kind to the Nisse. I hope you were good this year. I’d hate to think you will get swatted, or that the only gift you will receive will be coal. I definitely don’t want you to be stuffed in a bag and taken to Spain for a year to learn proper manners.
Happy Holidays I’m taking the rest of the year off. See you in January.