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New postby zoubou » Sat 26 Nov 2005, 17:53

I don't know about you guys but I'm in a Christmas mood from November till Febuary.........Well is my favourite part of the year for various reasons (yeah ok one of them is all the presents I get :lol: :lol: )...........I become again four years old and I find everything adorable and I love everyone (even my annoying neibour who -for reasons I ignore- likes to wake up every Sunday morning - the only day that I can sleep as much as I want- and vacume at 7 in the morning grrr :evil: ).

Anyway I thought I'd open this topic so that everyone can tell us some things about how people celebrate Christmas in his/ her country......... :D

What are your christmas traditions and customs ?
Christmas carols.....
Christmas wishes in your language............

What's your favourite part of Christmas celebrations (aka what do you love the most about Christmas)................. :wink:
There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. That will be the beginning.
--Louis L'Amour
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New postby anavlad » Fri 02 Dec 2005, 12:08

I don't know why but I think that this year's Christmas wil be marvellous...Maybe because I 'll share it with new dear friends...I'm really lookinh forward to that my zoubaki honey... :D
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New postby zoubou » Fri 02 Dec 2005, 18:28

Well well I see that everyone is too shy and doesn't want to be the first to share with us his country's customs....so I 'll start and I hope that it will get you going...........

Ok celebrating Christmas in Greece...hmmm let me think...

First of all the decoration. Yes it's true that nowdays we decorate a christmas tree too but as you all know that's a western european custom (I think :? )....the original greek custom is to decorate a small boat (you see Greeks are very attached to the sea and we've been a seafaring nation for ages so...)

Presents : We don't exchange gifts on Christmas eve but on New Year's eve.....that means that our Santa Claus - in greek called Agios Vasilis (aka Saint Basil)- comes a week later than to the rest of the world hahahaha

Sweets : Aha! Our traditional sweets are "melomakarona", "kourabiedes", "diples" and of course the king of Christmas sweets......"Vasilopita". Mmmm I have to explain some things here......you see our "Agios Vasilis" really existed (many centuries ago). He was an extremely wealthy man and according to the legend, every year he used to make "pites" (pies) in which he used to put gold coins and then he shared it to the poors. Nowdays "vasilopita" is usually a cake in which we put a coin. Right after midnight on New Year's eve we cut in pieces the "vasilopita" and whoever get's the piece with the coin has good luck all year long (it's like a lucky charm).

Carols : Children in Greece sing the carols on Chistmas and New Year's day........they go from door to door and sing and people give them candy and money.

Oh yes! We give great importance to the first person that will get in our house the very first day of the year (1st January). It must be a person that we consider as "gourlis" (aka luck-bringer). We give him an orange with a coin (hahaha coins everywhere) and money

Hmmmm I can't think of anything else now......

Come on everyone, don't be shy....please tell us how is Christmas in you country :wink:
There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. That will be the beginning.
--Louis L'Amour
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New postby oreok » Tue 13 Dec 2005, 03:38


Hey folks ! Come on ! Don’t let this poor little post die of “starvation”. Give it some food ! Poli made a start and so I’ll continue by telling you how XMAS is celebrated in GERMANY and in fact I intend to make you think about going to Germany on XMAS next year !!! It’s worth it !!! Therefore, I decided to present many interesting details to you and I’ll also give you a number of German XMAS words here you might find useful when you travel there.

In general XMAS and especially the pre XMAS season in Germany is a most beautiful, extraordinary time. The pre XMAS season starts with ADVENT which is derived from the Latin word ‘adventus’ meaning ‘arrival’ and in context with XMAS it refers to the arrival / birth of Jesus Christ. ADVENT are the last four Sundays before XMAS Eve. Therefore every German family has an ADVENTSKRANZ, a garland made of fir branches which like a XMAS tree is decorated with various little Christmassy objects. On the garland there are four candles and every Sunday one of them is lighted: one candle on the first Sunday, two candles on the second Sunday etc. On ADVENT afternoons very often family and friends meet to have coffee (or any other hot drink) and homemade XMAS buiscuits and cakes. I will tell you about the huge variety of these sweets later here.

For the children there is a special tradition: the ADVENTSKALENDER. This is a calendar made of cardboard or it can also be a chain of 24 XMAS stockings or other funny containers, fancy boxes etc. These 24 containers are filled with small symbolic presents (a chocolate, a ring, a little poem etc.) and starting 1 December, the children are allowed to to open one container every day, finishing 24 December, the day that is supposed to be Jesus’ birthday. In Germany when people refer to baby or infant Jesus, they usually say CHRISTKIND.

At the end of November, the latest 1 December, the WEIHNACHTSMARKT (German XMAS market) is opened in every town of the country. At these markets you’ll find a great number of stalls selling a huge variety of traditional handmade XMAS decoration, toys made of wood and sheet metal, (scented) candles and natural ethereal oils, herbs, teas, candy, jewelry and pretty scarves etc. Moreover, there are also many stalls selling fantastic German food e.g. ROSTBRATWURST (roasted sausages), KARTOFFELPUFFER or REIBEKUCHEN MIT APFELMUS (potato pancakes with apple sause, great !!!), KRAPFEN / MUZEN (a kind of doughnut: soft and spongy, with a thin brownish golden crust, smelling of vanilla, served warm, excellent !!).
For some years now, a number of migrants who have been living in Germany for a long time, have been participating in the XMAS markets, too, offering the lovely traditional food of their own countries, enriching the markets very much in this way. The markets are also an opportunity for local bands and choirs to perform traditional XMAS Carols, for migrant dancing ensambles to present traditional dances and for children from local infant and primary schools to perform nativity plays. The greatest, the most spectacular and most popular XMAS market is the NЬRNBERGER CHRISTKINDLMARKT (the market in Nuremberg).

6 December is NIKOLAUSTAG (Santa Claus Day). On the evening of 5 December, all the children leave their boots outside their room / their house, so that NIKOLAUS ( Santa) can come in the night (of course on a sleigh pulled by reindeer) and fill the boots with goodies: XMAS buiscuits, chocolates, nuts, mandarins and oranges. In German tradition Santa Claus doesn’t do the job on his own. You see, he fills the boots of only those children who were good girls and boys whereas those who were naughty are scolded and beaten with a cane by Santa’s other half called KNECHT RUPRECHT.

During the ADVENT period people have the opportunity to focus and remind themselves of the very spiritual origin and meaning of ADVENT and XMAS by attending ADVENT church services on the four Sundays but also to go to ecumenical services which some congregations offer in order to bring people of all denominations and other religions closer together, expressing in this way that in spite of our differences we’re all humans and in God’s eyes equal. After all one of the essential messages of XMAS is peace, love and respect among all people and peace on earth… The churches also open their doors for performances of German and foreign choirs singing XMAS Carols, Afro-American gospel etc. as well as for orchestras giving concerts of Classical music.

Another reason why XMAS in Germany is so exceptional (at least from my subjective point of view) is the variety and quality of XMAS food. Throughout the pre XMAS season, including ADVENT and the XMAS days, a generous number of special XMAS cakes and buiscuits as well as certain hot drinks are served. All these specialities contain the same traditional spices but as these spices are used in different combinations and amounts each speciality gets its very own, typical smell and flavour.

The German XMAS spices are: vanilla, cinnamon, clove, cardamom, ginger, nutmeg, aniseed and STERNANIS (a dry seed capsule in the shape of a star).

Typical German ingredients for XMAS specialities are: dark chocolate, fresh orange and lemon peel, candied orange and lemon peel (in little cubes) rum or brandy, walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, raisins and marzipan.

Traditional German XMAS cakes and buiscuits:

STOLLEN: a cake made with yeast, of an oblong, rectangular, roundish shape, dark golden surface covered with fine sugar
A famous variety is the plain MANDELSTOLLEN from DRESDEN with grated almonds. My favourite one is the rich MARZIPANSTOLLEN containing a marzipan heart flavoured with rum, smelling of butter and filled with candied orange and lemon peel and raisins.

LEBKUCHEN (spiced gingerbread)
Some delicious varieties are:

dark, moist, soft texture, covered with chocolate, in the shape of a heart, filled with apricot jam

dark, round (5-7 cm in diameter), soft and moist, flavoured with orange peel and covered with dark chocolate

rectangular oblong shape (6-7 cm long), brown, either plain or sometimes flavoured with aniseed or special herbs, dry, covered with chocolate

Other XMAS buiscuits:

SPEKULATIUS: golden, crispy buiscuits, sometimes flavoured with spices or almonds, smelling of butter and vanilla

VANILLEKIPFERL (these melt in the mouth): light golden colour, crescent-shaped buisbuits with a fine vanilla flavour, covered with fine sugar

German XMAS hot drinks

GLЬHWEIN (mulled wine): I’m afraid I cannot recommend the one sold at XMAS markets because very often it’s just a very low quality mass product. Always prefer the homemade !!

EIERPUNSCH (egg-nog) and TEEPUNSCH (tea punch)

XMAS Eve in Germany is called HEILIGABEND (holy evening) and it’s celebrated 24 December. People put all the presents under the decorated tree and in the afternoon, usually families meet to have coffee and cake together and as it is a very special occasion, except the sweet XMAS specialities, people serve TORTE (cream cake) such as the famous Black Forest Cherry Cake. Traditionally on XMAS Eve, people go to the XMAS service in church taking place on very late evening and after the service families have XMAS dinner together. The traditional XMAS dish is GEFЬLLTE GANS MIT ROTKOHL UND KNЦDELN which is stuffed goose served with red cabbage (delicious!!) and German dumplings. There are various goose stuffings and their ingredients vary according to the geographical area they come from. Moreover, many families have their own family stuffing recipes. In general, common ingredients might include minced meat, onions, bread, prunes, dry apricots, apples, pears, chestnuts, different herbs etc.

Finally everybody is welcome to open his / her present and this opening procedure is called BESCHERUNG. It is quite common to sing XMAS Carols together and / or read fairy tales and stories to the children. On the following two XMAS days people often visit friends and relatives who were not able to visit them or they choose to stay at home for some peace and harmony and simply to talk to each other, go for a long walk if the weather is nice etc.


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