Christmas Around The World

Posted: December 15, 2011 by Yorkshire Girl in Uncategorized
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I love Christmas.. I love everything about it.. The atmosphere, the lights, the magic, family, the gifts! Okay… especially the gifts. There’s something about that man with a white beard and red suit climbing down the chimney that brings joy to our hearts young and old.

Every Christmas Eve I left out a glass of sherry and a mince pie for Santa and a carrot for Rudolph, Looking back now I feel bad for the other reindeer but I blame my parents! So I generally feel quite an expert on Christmas, or so I thought. After always thinking the world over celebrated Christmas just like me, I was surprised to learn of some countries own traditions and beliefs.


The Greeks don’t tend to have Christmas trees. Instead many homes display a wooden bowl filled with water, over which is suspended a sprig of basil wrapped around a wooden cross. Every day throughout the twelve days of Christmas a family member will dip the cross in holy water and sprinkle it around the house in the hope to keep away the Killantzaroi – A Goblin who enters homes through the chimney during this festive time to cause mischief.


In the run up to Christmas Guatemalans believe the devil runs riot and to celebrate this they dress up in demonic style and chase children down the streets, resulting in La Quema del Diablo (the burning of the devil) on 7th December. Households gather unwanted items and set them on fire outside in an attempt to drive the devil away.


If like me you have arachnophobia, you will want to steer clear of the Ukraine during Christmas, as the hairy little buggers are encouraged into homes at this time of year. This comes from an old folk tale about a family that were visited by magic spiders one Christmas and turned their webs into Gold.


In the Catalan region of Spain we meet the Caganer (the defector). The figure is portrayed squatting with it’s trousers round its ankles. No one seems to know the origin but it has been around since the seventeenth century and is part of the Catalonian Nativity scene.


I was more surprised to read about this tradition due to Wales being the country right next door to England where I am from. They have their own festive figure consisting of a horse’s skull on a pole, carried by a person under draped sheets. The Mari Lwyd wanders the streets with a band of singers and anyone who is bitten by the skull has to pay a fine. Give me Santa any day!

So those are just some of the few that I found, it’s pretty amazing how diverse our small little world is and all of our different beliefs. I am always respectful of other countries customs, but I’m awfully glad the only thing I have to worry about coming down the chimney is old St. Nick and not a goblin!


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