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Christmas Around Europe

Christmas is an annual festival commemorating the birth of Jesus, observed most commonly on December 25th as a religious and cultural celebration among billions of people around world. Have you wondered how do people celebrate their Christmas in their country? Here’s a sneak peek!

Western Europe--

Germany is well known for its Christmas Markets where all sorts of Christmas foods and decorations are sold. Perhaps the most famous German decorations are glass of ornaments. The legend of the glass “Christmas Pickle” is famous in the USA, but it’s that, a legend. Most people in Germany have never heard of the Christmas Pickle.

In some parts of Germany, mainly the south east of the country, children write to the Santa Claus asking for presents. The letters to the Christkind are decorated with sugar glued to the envelope to make them sparkly and attractive to look at. Children leave the letters on the windowsill at the beginning of the Advent.

As well as hoping for presents from Christkind, children also hope that ‘der Nikolaus’ will bring you some small gifts, such as sweets and chocolate on the 6th December. He comes in the night between the 5th and the 6th and puts the presents into the shoes of the children, who usually place them by their doors on the previous evening.

Merry Christmas in German: Fröhliche Weihnachten

Northern Europe--

Around Christmas time in Sweden, one of the biggest celebrations is St Lucia’s Day on December 13th . St. Lucia’s Day is celebrated by a girl dressing in a white dress with a red sash round her waist and a crown of candles on her head. Small children use electric candles but from about 12 years old, real candles are used!

Christmas Eve is also very important in Sweden. This is when the main meal(well really a feast!) is eaten.

This is often a ‘julbord’ which is buffet, eaten at lunch time. Cold fish is important on the julbord. There is often herring, gravlax and smoked salmon. Other dishes on the julbord might include turkey, roasted beef, cheeses, liver pate and so forth.

The desert of the julbord might be a selection of sweet pastries, some more pepparkakor biscuits and some home made sweets. To wash all that food down you can have some ‘glogg’ which is sweet mulled wine and some coffee to finish off the meal.

Presents are normally exchanged on Christmas Eve. People often go to Church early on Christmas morning.

Another popular and important that many Swedes do on Christmas Eve afternoon is to watch Donald Duck! Every year, since 1959, at 3.00pm on Christmas Eve, the TV station TV1 shows the Disney special “From All of Us to All of Your”.

The end of Christmas in Sweden is on January 13th (20 days after Christmas) which is called ‘Tjugondag Knut’. On this day, it’s the traditional that the Christmas tree is taken down and the left over cookies and sweets are eaten!

Merry Christmas in Swedish: God Jul

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