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Emily Emily | 11:37 UK time, Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Thanks for all the lovely replies to last week's blog.

A couple of people mentioned Advent calendars, so I'll start with that.

We've got an office Advent calendar that my colleague Carrie bought for the department. Here's a picture of me opening today's door:

An Advent Calendar

Our office Advent calendar

It has a picture of Santa Claus (also called Father Christmas) surrounded by lots of small children. He is carrying a sack of presents on his back and he has a finger to his lips, indicating that the children should be quiet and not tell their parents that they've seen him! The tradition is that Santa Claus comes at night and children are supposed to be asleep and then when they awake they find lots of presents at the foot of their beds.

This Advent calendar has 24 little doors with a chocolate behind each one. The doors are numbered 1-24 for each day from the first day of Advent (1 December in the UK) to Christmas Eve (24 December in the UK). Children in the UK love opening the doors of the calendar each day. Sometimes they find a little picture inside, sometimes a chocolate and sometimes a sweet.

Do you have Advent calendars in your country? What about Santa Claus? Or do you celebrate St. Nicholas' day on 6 December?

Can anybody tell me more about St. Nicholas' day? Elisabeth wrote about it in reply to my blog last week. She said, "Children put their shoes on the windowsill on the eve of that day, and the next morning they find their shoes filled with fruit and nuts and sweets." I didn't like the sound of the 'Krampus' - a scary figure. If St. Nicholas brings the presents, what does the Krampus do?

If you live in another country, what other traditions do you have at this time of year? Have you got any special foods or celebrations as the weather gets colder? Or perhaps in your country the weather is getting hotter now - if so, how do you celebrate this time of year?

Thanks,
Emily

Glossary:

Advent calendar - a way of counting down to Christmas - it has a window to open for every day from 1-24 December (Christmas Eve) with a picture or chocolate behind each window
Santa Claus/ Father Christmas - the man that British children believe brings them Christmas presents during the night before Christmas Day
Sack - a large bag of strong coarse material
Tradition - the passing on of cultural practices from generation to generation
At the foot of - at the end of (something)
Advent - a time of preparation for Christians, leading up to Christmas
Christmas Eve - (24 December in the UK) the day before Christmas Day
Eve - the evening before (something)

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Hello Emily

    Santa Claus became popular with us after Soviet Union had fallen apart. Before this time we (children) believed in Ded Moroz with Snegurochka. But after when media sources started broadcasting and rotating the image of Santa Claus in advertising,in various programs,in films he became to hero of New Year quickly.
    Now every child in Georgia believe in Santa Clause, but not in Ded Moroz.
    However i can recollect my childhood and say that this two imaginary persons were quite good and I still like them. Once at school party I was disguised as Snegurochka with especially bought costume:-). Also in Georgia we have our own Santa Clause and his name is " Tovlis Babua " literally that means the Snow Grandfather ,but with this bright person "Santa Clause" our one looks palely.

    Heartily
    Sofiko

  • Comment number 2.

    We do not celebrate a St. Nicolas day broadly here in Russia. He isn’t such a popular person in Russian culture as in European.
    But we have a person alike Santa Claus. His name is Ded Moroz (It could be translated as Grandpa Frost). He is more mythical personage than religious. He come from ancient pagan culture and not related to St. Nicolas. In ancient culture it was associated with natural forces of winter. Cold wind, frost, ice, blizzards are his business. In old time he inspires fear and respectfulness. Nowadays it exists only like a fairy-tale character. Like Santa it has a long white beard and wear fur coat and fur hat. In distinction from Santa his clothes is blue often with frost pattern, top of his cap spherical and he ride on ‘Troika’ (three horses). Often he had assistant - Snegurochka. She is his granddaughter. Ded Moroz comes in New Year night but not at Christmas. As Santa it brings gifts for children. He put presents under a fir tree. We call it New Year Tree but not Christmas tree. As in other European countries we decorate it with lights, bright-colored balls and spangles. In fact under influence by Coca-Cola advertising, Walt Disney’s cartoons and Hollywood pictures modern Ded Moroz is suffering profound changes, and now there are no appreciable visual differences from Santa.
    My two years old daughter can’t wait for New Year. Every evening she asks me when we start to decorate fir tree. Usually in our family we do it on Saturday or Sunday two weeks before New Year Day.
    Victor
    Samara Russia

  • Comment number 3.

    For Sofiko
    It is an amazing story about Tovlis Babua and New Year festival in modern Georgia. I’m interested to learn more.
    Victor.

  • Comment number 4.

    Hello Emily

    The tradition is in Spain that The Three Wise Men (Melchor, Gaspar and Baltasar) comes at night and children are supposed to be asleep and then when they awake on the 6th of January, they find their presents if they have been good children.

    Children have to write a letter to The Three Wise Men. Children ask for the presents and on the fifth of January, at night, they put their shoes on the windows and some food to the Three Wise Men's camels. Parents warn children that if their behavior is not good the Three Wise Men only will give them black coal.

  • Comment number 5.

    For Victor

    Our Tovlis Babua lives in Svaneti ( It's the mountainous part in Georgia). He is dressed up with special Georgian folk clothes and have big sack with him which is full of sweets and fruits ( Georgian folk sweets -churchkhela, gozinaki). As regards New Year festival it is alike of ones in many countries with fir trees, abounded with lights and of course with special feast in each family.

    Sofiko

  • Comment number 6.

    For Sofiko
    Thank you, Sofiko. It is interesting.
    I love gozinaki and eat often but I didn’t know that it is Georgian traditional sweets. :)
    As I can see every culture has its own ’Lapland’. As I know from history course Svaneti is a legendary land, not only for Georgians but it frequently mentioned in ancient Greece myths.
    Victor

  • Comment number 7.

    For Victor
    In ancient myths there are mostly mentioned Kolkhida, it's the old name of west Georgia.Namely I 'm about The myth of Golden Fleece and famous person in it Medea. I like the interpretation of this personage in film of Pier Paolo Pasolini in role with Callas. She was a daughter of Aieti the king of Kolkhida. This myth written and retold by Euripides was inspiration for many painters and art makers. Glad that you are interested in Georgia.

    Sofiko

  • Comment number 8.

    Hello Emily.
    Thanks for your explanations. I learn a lot of vocabulary with you and without effort.
    In Spain, the children , as Discip had told, wait for the Three Wise Men, but they are getting gifts from Santa Claus in Chritsmas for some years (no when I was a child) because of the anglo saxon influence.
    The traditional sweet of these days is the "turrón". There are a lot of ways to make "turrón", but the ingredient of the typical "turrón" is almond.

  • Comment number 9.

    I've finished reading about Secret Santa in a Flatmates episode. In Spain, we do something similar among coworkers or among adults relatives. We call this "El amigo invisible", the invisible friend.

  • Comment number 10.

    Hi Emily,

    I am an Indian. And Christianity is not in our culture but we love to celebrate this festival with full enthusiasm.We had grown a Christmas tree and we beautify it using variety of ornate . We do make those mouth-watering cakes too. This year we are planning to make delectable carrot -walnut cake :) . My kids love to visit church and lit candles. They wait for gifts too.Our nation is full of festivals . Next month we will be waiting for "festival of kites". It is known as "Sankranti".

  • Comment number 11.

    In Ukraine we have the same new year's traditions as in Russia. We have more popular person named Ded Moroz.
    I am a little bit confused because we have St. Nicholas' day too, but in other date. We celebrate St. Nicholas' day on December 19th. Recently this holiday has become popular in Ukraine. Our children have hoped to find sweets at the foot of the bad, as well. But only in that case if they have been good kids for all year:)

    It's really interesting to read about christmas and new year's traditions in different countries. Thanks for sharing this information:) I have been reading with great pleasure.

  • Comment number 12.

    Hi, friend.
    I'm from Brasil and the same way he we've been preparing for the "Natal" or Christmas since November.For us the main tradition in this part of the year is to celebrate in family at the night 24 th December.

  • Comment number 13.

    Hi Emily,

    I found it really fascinating to know about Santa Clause as well as other other traditions alike but I am a bit confused as well at the same time. I thought Christmas was a religious ceremony and celebrated by all Christians all over the world. However, from reading all the comments above it seems like Christmas is not celebrated in the same way and not even on the same date. I don't know may be all these people are not Christian and that's may be why they are talking about different traditions. Even then its amazing that they all have their traditional ceremonies around December.

    I am Muslim and our religious ceremonies change all year around so we don't have fixed dates for celebrating our religious ceremonies but rather different dates each year.

    Cheers

    Varisha

 

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