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Regional Customs and Celebrations at Christmas

http://www.chinese.cn 17:15, December 20, 2010 Confucius Institute Online

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North Europe

Germany and the Netherlands celebrated a day like St. Nikolas Day in English-speaking countries on December 6. It's called Sinterklaasavond (St. Nikolas incident) in Dutch, which is much more important than Christmas though some Dutch people have also begun to celebrate Christmas Eve and Santa Claus in recent years.

The image of Sinterklaas has been evolved comprehensively from the real St. Nikolas and Santa Claus in Britain and America. Sinterklaas will bring gifts to anticipating children. His costume is a bishop's coat and a hair crown and he crosses roofs on a white horse. Sinterklaas has a group of mischievous assistants, who are called 'calzwarte Pieten' (Black Peter). In some parts of Germany, Austria and Switzerland, Knecht Ruprecht who children fears also appears in legend.

Celebration of Christmas in most areas of Germany is still one of the traditions. German families will eat dinner together on December 25, as the Chinese do in lunar New Year, and listen to music and talk about life in the year after supper. Children will make handicraft by themselves in art classes in school or in spare time or buy gifts with their pocket money for their parents at Christmas. Then on December 26, relatives will come to your home or your parents will take you to visit relatives, which is quite like returning to the mother's home on the second day of lunar New Year. After St. Nikolas Day, Christmas is basically children's festival. The time when Christmas gifts are sent is Christmas Eve. After simple supper, Christmas gifts will be put under the Christmas tree. The Christmas feast is traditionally enjoyed on December 25. The main course is generally poultry (the typical example is a roast goose). Christmas gifts are brought by Weihnachtsmann (literally Santa Claus), who looks much like St. Nicholas, or sometimes brought by Christkind-a mischievous child who may or may not represent young Jesus. In commerce, Striezelmarkt is definitely a Christmas gift production center in the world, which is also the pride of the eastern German city of Dresden. Skillfully made and printed products are sold all over the world. But the influx of Chinese toys has brought considerable pressure to bear upon local enterprises in Dresden in recent years. Some even began planning to move their plants to Eastern Europe, Turkey and even Asia to improve the competitiveness of their products in price.

In Sweden, companies usually invite employees to a Christmas lunch(julbord or jullunch)one week before Christmas. In order to prevent food poisoning that may occur in Christmastide, Swedish newspapers generally spare no efforts to some report lab test results every year and warn citizens not to put cold meat and mayonnaise in room temperature to avoid their deterioration. In any places of Sweden, Christmas is a time to enjoy delicacies. Christmas feasts mainly feature roast hams, but in which day to enjoy them varies in different places. However, there is an established practice in Sweden, that is watching the special program of Disney on the day of Christmas Eve, i.e. at 3:00pm punctually on December 24.

Christmas banquets are held on December 24 in Norway and then Julenissen will bring gifts to children with good behavior. After the get-together with family members quietly on December 25, there will be another big celebration after the festival. Children will accept hospitality in neighbors' door by door. Joulupukki (Christmas Goat) is Santa Claus of the Finnish version. He distributes gifts to children with good behavior in a reindeer-pulled sled. 

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