Christmas Tradiations

Find below a brief description of the origins of the most popular Christmas traditions. Some customs have evolved from old pagan traditions and others are a result of Christmas stories told by writers or depicted in illustrations and advertisements.

Carols by candlelight is a purely Australian Christmas tradition. It began on Christmas Eve in Melbourne in 1937 and is now an annual event in the days leading up to Christmas in cities and towns all across the nation.

Every year thousands of people gather for carols at Sydney’s Domain. People hold up their candles and sing together.xmascandy

“La bûche de Noël” (Christmas log), a cake made with cream, is a special dessert served after meal on Christmas Eve (le réveillion de Noël). Father Christmas is called ‘Saint Nicholas’ and he brings presents to children on December 6th, ‘St. Nicholas Day’, a long time before Christmas.

For Christmas breakfast people have a special sweet bread called ‘cougnou’ or ‘cougnolle’ – the shape is supposed to be like baby Jesus. Some families will have another big meal on Christmas day.

Finnish people believe that Father Christmas (Santa Claus) lives in the north part of Finland called Korvatunturi, north of the Arctic Circle. People from all over the world send letters to Santa Claus in Finland. There is a big tourist theme park called ‘Christmas Land’ in the north of Finland, near to where they say that Father Christmas lives.

Xmas parties are given on Christmas Eve, when people eat rice porridge and plum fruit juice in the morning. Then they decorate a spruce tree at home. At mid-day, the ‘peace of Christmas’ is broadcast on radio and TV from the Finnish city of Turku by its Mayor. In the evening, a traditional Christmas dinner is eaten. Many families will visit cemeteries and grave-yards to place a candle onto the burial graves of family members. Quite a different Christmas tradition to the ones we know! Cemeteries in Finland look beautiful at Christmas-time, all lit with candles.

The ‘Adventskranz’ -a wreath of leaves with four candles-is a traditional German Christmas ornament. (Advent – meaning ‘coming’ – is the 4 week period before Christmas). On each Sunday of Advent, another candle is lit. Most homes will also have little wooden ‘cribs’ – a small model of the stable where Jesus was born, with Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus, and animals.

Latvians believe that Father Christmas brings presents on each of the 12 days of Christmas starting on Christmas Eve.

Christmas celebrations start on December 16, when the first “posada” is held. “Posadas” are celebrated for nine nights at different houses, where family and friends are invited to pray. The hosts then offer guests a light meal. The ninth posada is celebrated on Christmas Eve with fireworks and a pinata.

On Christmas Eve, families go to church at midnight for “Misa de Gallo’ (Mass of the Rooster). Christmas dinner is eaten after midnight. It is the Wise Men and not Santa Claus who bring the presents.

Family and friends gather on Christmas to celebrate the birth of Christ child. All around the world the joy and the warmth of friendship is felt during the holiday season, when people give presents to each other as a token of their affection and express their happiness with music, food, games and fireworks.