It’s only a few more days to go till Christmas!
Are you all set for the festivities, feasts and family gatherings? Here, at the First Edition and Cintra offices we are more than ready for that Christmas pudding. Or a chat with Santa on the phone…!
Join us on a quick tour around Europe to see how our colleagues celebrate Christmas with their families in their countries.
Rice pudding and a phone call with Santa
Tytti from Finland
“Usually in the morning we have rice porridge with cinnamon and sugar before going to a cemetery to put some candles on our relatives’ graves.
Then after that we come back home and bathe in the sauna and just relax with family by watching Christmas movies (which are almost the same every year…) and Santa’s live TV show from Korvatunturi (that’s where he lives)! It’s quite cool actually, basically you can call Santa and have a little convo with him, or if you prefer you can sing to him and then Santa’s little helper sometimes plays the piano to that specific Christmas song you’ve chosen.
Later in the afternoon we start eating Christmas dinner and drink mulled wine (without alcohol! You can add some vodka by yourself if you really want to.. :D) and eat lots of gingerbread. After the food has been eaten either Santa comes to give the presents, or if he’s really busy then he leaves them outside the door for you to find them.”
Midnight mass and chestnuts
Isabelle from France
“A French Christmas is all about food, you won’t be surprised to read. Extended families sit down about 8 pm on December 24th to share a three-course meal that includes turkey and trimmings (chestnuts often are a feature) and une bûche de Noël beautifully decorated with holly twigs and cute snowmen. Some will chose to go to church attend the Messe de Minuit at midnight, but presents under the Christmas tree won’t be opened until the morning of December 25th – a very early start for some families as you can imagine…”
Sausages and Bescherung
Melanie from Germany
“In Germany, we tend to put up our Christmas tree during the day of the 24th of December – Christmas Eve. This is the day, or rather the evening, we have our big celebration and pressie exchange (Bescherung, for which there is no English equivalent word!). When we were children, we spent the day at our grandmother’s while our parents put up the tree and decorated it. This was a very secretive procedure and we were made to believe it was the Christkind (Christ child) who did this. When we were a little older we went to the cinema while our parents did all the work! As an evening meal, we have our traditional (that is, in our family – this varies a lot throughout Germany) potato salad and sausages (similar to Frankfurters). After the meal, we go into the living room where we catch the first glance of the Christmas tree and the presents underneath it.
When we were a bit older and had learned to play instruments, music became more and more a part of our Christmas Eve tradition. We would open one present, then sing one song, and so on. This could last into the early hours of the next day. Christmas Eve in Germany is a very cosy, relaxing event. On Christmas Day, we have lunch or dinner much like the British do: turkey with all the trimmings. And overall lots of chocolates, Baileys, cake, special Christmassy ice-cream etc. …
Little Jesus and abundance of food
Anikó from Hungary
“Our Christmas is very similar to the German Christmas as we also get to open our presents on Christmas Eve. Instead of Santa, it’s the Jézuska (Little Jesus) that puts the gifts under the tree. When I was a child, we had to have dinner first – it was always fish soup with loads of paprika! –, then only when our plates were clear were we allowed to open our presents. You can imagine how impatiently I gulped down that soup! Eating did not stop there though, we always had a large amount of beigli to consume (either poppy seed or walnut roll) and all kinds of szaloncukor (literally “parlour candy”) that is usually in a shiny wrapping and we hang it on the tree as decoration. (Well, usually by Christmas day there is nothing left but the wrappings!)”
Symbols of fertility
Svetlana from Bulgaria
In Bulgaria, the main event is on Christmas Eve. In my family we would all get together for a meal in the evening. Traditionally there should be 7, 9 or 12 different items on the table. My grandmother used to always make this amazingly tasty homemade bread with butter and feta cheese inside. The oldest person at the table would then take the first piece of the bread and hand it to the youngest person at the table (usually me!). The bread is often decorated with wheat, grapes, etc. symbols of fertility, so the year ahead is plentiful.
Other traditional dishes include stuffed cabbage leaves or peppers (or both!), beans and pumpkin filo-pastry pie. They should be all meatless as this is the last day of the Christmas lent but we were never strict about this part of the tradition at home.”
Ben’s family has an interesting twist on the traditional British Christmas customs: “Every year we have a karaoke competition at my house with my family. The winner gets a magnum bottle of prosecco.”
Sounds fun, doesn’t it?
Source of image: Wikimedia Commons