It seems that we are still in autumm and, all of a sudden, it is already Christmas time. Yes, time flies!
We want to introduce you to some Russian, German and Catalan Christmas traditions. As we celebrate Christmas as usual, we don’t think of cultural differences. But from country to country, indeed, Christmas traditions can change a lot! We wish you enjoy our post and, most of all, enjoy Christmas time and have a happy new year!
To start with, let’s travel for a moment to Russia- Here there are four Russian Christmas symbols
The most important celebration in Russia is New Year, when“GrandfatherFrost” (ДедМороз) brings presents to children. He is always accompanied by his“Grandaughter Snegurochka” (Снегурочка).
The 31th of December, Russian people usually listen to the president’s traditional speech and then wait for the first stroke of the Kremlin Clock, which marks the beginning of the new year. It is rather a solemn moment, so manypeoplego to the Red Square every year, just to go through it again and again.
Tangerines are a mandatoryattribute on thefeast tables in Russia. It’s because in the Soviet period tangerines were a sort of hard-to-get fruit, so that it was served on the Soviet peoples’ tables onlyonce a year – during New Yearholidays.
Christmas in Russia is normally celebrated on January 7th. Thedate is different because the Russian Orthodox church uses theold ‘Julian’ calendar for religious celebration days.
Let’s continue travelling… to Germany now! Despite there are some differences between the north and the south, Christmas is a contemplative time in this country.
Germans love the Advent season. Therefore, from the first day of Advent, we go crazy and start to bake and decorate. Typical pastries: Lebkuchen (Gingerbread), Spekulatius (Speculaas), Zimtsterne (cinnamon stars), Vanillekipferl (vanilla pastries), Stollen (fruit bread with dried fruit and covered with powdered sugar), and all kinds of delicious homemade pastries. We do not only decorate gorgeously the interior of our houses and flats, but also balconies and the garden – and not the American way! Very important: crib, Advent wreath and Advent calendar.
What else do we love? Our Weihnachtsmärkte (Christmas markets), or also known as Christkindlmärkte (Christ child markets)! In Bavaria, a really special and famous one is the NürnbergerChristkindlmarkt (Christ child market of Nuremberg). There you can find the delicious and traditional Nürnberger Lebkuchen and NürnbergerChristkindlGlühwein. Glühwein? Yeah, right, Mulled Wine. If you go to a German Weihnachtsmarkt you definitely have to try Lebkuchen and Glühwein.
Another popular tradition, usually done by friends or colleagues, is Wichteln (Secret Santa). It’s always a great surprise and sometimes, you can even get some little treasures!
There are some Christmas traditions which are more usual in the south and west of Germany, especially in Bavaria.
Who think children brings the presents? Santa Claus? The Three Magic? Yes, maybe, but in Bavaria it’s the Christkind (Christ child) who comes the 24 December after church in the afternoon. The giving of Christmas presents is called Bescherung.The Christkind is represented with blond hair and angelic wings, being a sprite-like child. Well-known is the Christkind at the Christkindlmarkt in Nuremberg, depicted by a young woman who is chosen every year. Being chosen is hard because you have to satisfy specific criteria and requirements. The 25 and 26 December and the 6 January are festive days, too. And to end up, if you want to wish somebody merry Christmas in Germany, you just have to say, FroheWeihnachten!
We also want to introduce you to some Catalan Christmas traditions. The word we use to refer to this time of the year is, as you might know, Nadal. Have you ever heard about the tió? Do you know what we traditionally eat during Nadal? And how do we celebrate New Year’s Eve? You will find the answers to these questions if you continue reading!
There’re several typical foods to eat during Christmas in Catalonia, we’re going to talk about some of them.
“La escudella de Nadal” it’s a kind of soup made with vegetables and meat. We eat first the soup with a big pasta called “galets”, and then is typical to eat the products that had been used to make the soup, the vegetables (potato, carrots, beans, etc) and the meat (chicken breast, ham, spine bone, etc).It is a really yummy and confortable meal to eat on winter, and normally is what Catalans eat on the 25th.
Here in Catalonia, on the 26th we celebrate “SantEsteve”, and the most typical food eaten on this days is “canelons”. “Canelons” are made with pasta on the exterior and they can be filled with meat, spinaches, mushrooms, etc. and then they are recovered with a salsa called “beixamel”.
And for the desert… We eat “neules”, a type of biscuit that can be just the biscuit or they can be filled with chocolate or “xixona”. We also eat “torrons” typically made of honey, sugar, and egg white, with toasted almonds or other nuts, and usually shaped into either a rectangular tablet or a round cake.And of course, we serve this with catalan Cava.
“Fer cagar el tió” is a particular way children receive presents in Christmas. The main character: a piece of wood.
If you are not familiar to his tradition we probably should warn you that it may appear to you as a (very) weird Christmas one. And we may also add that even it might look as if we were, we are not nuts.
The “tió”, this smiley trunk, comes down from the forest to Catalan’s homes at Christmas, some days before the 25th, and stays until this day. Children cover it with a blanket to warm it up, and feed it with fruit during these days because on the 25th, by hitting it with the help of some sticks, the tió defecates…. presents! Children need to warm the sticks up before they hit it, while singing traditional tió songs.
An to end the year… The twelve grapes of luck on New Year’s Eve
This is a Spanish tradition that consists of eating twelve grapes at the same time that the bell strikes at midnight of December 31. Obviously, this is a superstitious tradition, as Spanish people believe that this action will lead them a year of prosperity. No one will take the risk of poisoning their fate by skipping eating the grapes! We all wish you a great New Year’s Eve and a happy new year!