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Week 4 - Discussion


Prof. Tarma Amelia Black
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Fels is busy elfing so I get to post the Week 4 Discussion!   :badger:

 

So, for Week 4 of our O' Tannenbaum celebration -- how is Christmas celebrated in a way, or a land, other than your own?  Is it celebrated as Christmas? Or is it something devoted more to the Winter Solstice but still recognizing the qualities of the season?  Are the activities with all kinds of parades and festivals, or is it quiet, or a combination of the two -- or even something else entirely?

 

Tell us about other customs than your own for this time of year.  Write at least 100 words and earn 10 Diamonds! If you write more, in response to what others say, you can earn an additional 10 Diamonds if your post is at least 100 words long.

 

You have until December 31st to post.   You earn a bonus of 3 Diamonds, though, if you post one or both within a week of me posting this!

 

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Finland has very interesting Christmas traditions that are well suited to the country's northern location.  Even looking at the name of the month of December in Finnish, "joulukuu", essentially means "Christmas month" (granted, the Christmas season itself extends into January).  

 

The Finnish tradition has always placed Santa Claus ("Joulupukki") in the northern part of the country, in an arctic region known as "Lapland".  The original tradition had Joulupukki in a forested mountain on the Russian border known as Korvatunturi.  However, in 1985 an amusement park called "Santa Claus Village" was opened in the city of Rovaniemi, in southern Lapland - and right on the Arctic Circle.  That place, which is much easier to visit, has then become the new official home of Santa Claus as far as Finns are concerned - and the village is a popular tourist destination year-round!

 

As for Christmas itself:  let's start with food:  while the traditional Christmas dinner used to feature lamb (from the Finnish harvest festival Kekri), ham and turkey are more popular today.  There are also various vegetable casseroles, smoked fish such as gravlax, prune soup, and gingerbread biscuits - note that Finnish foods are often designed around the Finnish palate, which may be unfamiliar to newcomers!  (And on Christmas Eve, rice porridge also features into the mix.)

 

Ironically enough, while reindeer is a Finnish delicacy enjoyed in many forms year-round (to this day, the tastiest meat I ever ate was a reindeer steak in Helsinki), it is NOT a traditional Christmas dish!

 

Besides the meals, candle-lighting, and the exchange of presents, one other thing that is associated with Christmas is a hot sauna... but, of course, saunas are Finnish traditional pleasures outside of that season too (after all, 'sauna' is the only common English word imported directly from Finnish!)

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In Mexico, Christmas is celebrated since 12th December to 6th January. They have many celebrations during that time, such as candle-lit processions. Additionally to that, they have elaborate nativity scenes, pinatas and of course family feasts full of traditional Mexican dishes. When it comes to the music, they favour listening to Spanish Christmas Carols, which for me sounds absolutely incredible. But wait. That is not all! In Mexico they have some dancing and fireworks as well. I do not know what about you guys but this truly sounds fascinating!

Other than that, they also have common traditions, e.g. Santa Claus.

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We all know that despite some differences, most countries have rather similar Christmas. But what about countries that are known for being rather extreme?

Saudi Arabia, a country that has once banned Christmas, now allows them but not as loud and popular in other countries.  For a start, Christmas is not a holiday in there and so you do need to go to work/school. Additionally, forget about going to church because there are no churches in Saudi Arabia. Fun fact, there is no Santa Claus in Saudi Arabia. When you want a Christmas tree, then you have to make sure that there are gifts under the tree - always.

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1 hour ago, Harry Walles said:

We all know that despite some differences, most countries have rather similar Christmas. But what about countries that are known for being rather extreme?

Saudi Arabia, a country that has once banned Christmas, now allows them but not as loud and popular in other countries.  For a start, Christmas is not a holiday in there and so you do need to go to work/school. Additionally, forget about going to church because there are no churches in Saudi Arabia. Fun fact, there is no Santa Claus in Saudi Arabia. When you want a Christmas tree, then you have to make sure that there are gifts under the tree - always.

When it comes to the ban in Saudi Arabia, the ban was only removed in 2015, but it is still strictly non-accepted. There are other countries that banned Christmas too!

 

What may come as a shock, in the 17th century, England also banned Christmas because of the war. 

 

'Between 1647-1660 when a Puritanical movement led by Oliver Cromwell ruled England, the celebration of saints’ days was discouraged. Christmas in particular was considered as a day ‘giving liberty to carnal and sensual delights’.

 

Among other countries that also banned Christmas are rather obvious ones such as North Korea, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

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2 hours ago, Louis Walles said:

In Mexico, Christmas is celebrated since 12th December to 6th January. They have many celebrations during that time, such as candle-lit processions. Additionally to that, they have elaborate nativity scenes, pinatas and of course family feasts full of traditional Mexican dishes. When it comes to the music, they favour listening to Spanish Christmas Carols, which for me sounds absolutely incredible. But wait. That is not all! In Mexico they have some dancing and fireworks as well. I do not know what about you guys but this truly sounds fascinating!

Other than that, they also have common traditions, e.g. Santa Claus.

The candle-lit procession sounds truly fascinating so I decided to do a bit more research about this.

The event is often referred to as 'Las Posadas' which can be translated into 'the inns' or 'shelter'. It is usually performed up to nine days before Christmas and is a very important procession.

One of the most important cultural aspect of this is that children often dress in biblical attire and form a procession. This procession is led by an angel, Mary and Joseph, and is then shortly followed by the adults and musicians. I personally would really like to see this in real life!

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I have a friend who lives in Germany and she has decried how Christmas is for her. 
 

Christmas celebrations start in Germany on 24th December (Christmas Eve) as many of us do, Christmas gifts are exchanged. Then on 25th (Christmas Day) and 26 December, usually the family gets together for celebrations. The religious Christians will visit Christmas mass during these days. The German festive season starts at the end of November or early December with the Advent celebrations. During the festive season, many cities and towns hold christmas markets which open usually from beginning of December until Christmas eve.Many of the town squares have their own tall Christmas tree’s in front of the townhouse or city hall which are beautifully decorated with fairy lights and often the lights are switched on early in December with a big party. There is always a majestic Christmas tree put up in front of Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. 
 

The festive season is started with the Advent celebrations in preparation to the arrival of baby Jesus on Christmas day. Advent in Germany always starts on the 4th Sunday before Christmas Day, the 25th of December. Typically, families decorate an Advent wreath with four red candles. On every Advent Sunday, one more candle is lit until all candles are alight to announce the imminent birth of Christ. The Advent calendars are filled with sweets or chocolates and are popular with children. This is now a tradition all over the world. The first door is opened on the 1st December until the last and often biggest door is opened on the 24th of December. In Germany, the calendar has 24 doors as Christmas celebrations already start on Christmas eve! 
 

On the 6th of December, families celebrate Nikolaustag, Saint Nicholas Day. Often a 'real' Saint Nicholas, dressed in the red coat and hat and wearing a white beard -to disguise the father of family friend- and sometimes even his fearsome helper 'Knecht Ruprecht', who is dressed in black, come to the homes with young children. They come to ask the children if they have been good all year and also bring small gifts to the good children and to reprimand the naughty ones. Usually this is a merry and festive occasion celebrated with friends and family and Christmas carols are sung. Children are often asked to prepare and recite a poem for St Nicholas on that evening.

 

 

The Christmas tree in the living room is put up usually only on the morning of Christmas Eve. Germans also mainly use real, freshly cut fir or pine trees, that are sold in all sizes at most shops during the last days before Christmas. However, houses and gardens are decorated with festive lights throughout the festive season, just the tree comes last! On Christmas Eve, often only little food is eaten during the day as this is a fast day. The festive Christmas celebrations start already in the afternoon, when many families with children attend a festive children's mass at their local church. After mass, families celebrate at home, lighting the candles or lights on their Christmas tree for the first time.

 

On the 6th of January, children and teenagers, dressed as the 'Three Wise Men', will go from house to house to sing carols, pray and 'bless' the houses and to collect money for a good cause. Usually this group of singers ('Sternsinger' in German meaning 'singers or followers of the star') is organised by the local Catholic church communities.

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I've seen all kinds of posts in Facebook about something called Krampus.

 

I didn't much look into it, as everything I'd seen, of the figures/people masquerading as/things carried was rather frightening looking.   :unsure:  Why would I want to know more about it? 

 

However, with this topic posted (by me even ....)  I figured, oh well, and did some research.

 

Krampus, according to Wikipedia

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The Krampus is a horned, anthropomorphic figure in Central and Eastern Alpine folklore who, during the Christmas season, scares children who have misbehaved. Assisting Saint Nicholas, the pair visit children on the night of 5 December, with Saint Nicholas rewarding the well-behaved children with modest gifts such as oranges, dried fruit, walnuts and chocolate, while the badly behaved ones only receive punishment from Krampus with birch rods.

The origin of the figure is unclear; some folklorists and anthropologists have postulated it as having pre-Christian origins. In traditional parades and in such events as the Krampuslauf (English: Krampus run), young men participate dressed as Krampus and attempt to scare the audience with their antics.[1] Such events occur annually in most Alpine towns.[2] Krampus is featured on holiday greeting cards called Krampuskarten.

Since 1984, the character has become better known globally, having been portrayed in Hollywood horror films. Almost unknown before this time, Krampus has begun to become part of American popular culture.

 

Well, excuuuuse me. It IS a frightening thing. How in the world is this a thing of popular culture in America?  It started, however, in Europe, in Alpine areas. I looked up 'Alpine regions' and found

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The central and eastern Alps of Europe are rich in folklore traditions dating back to pre-Christian times, with surviving elements originating from Germanic, Gaulish (Gallo-Roman), Slavic (Carantanian) and Raetian culture.

 

So somehow this old time European legend/tradition has taken on a new life in the United States.  So strange!  :blink:

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