Top 8 Christmas foods and drinks

 

Top 8 Christmas foods and drinks

What do you think about when you say Christmas? The nativity scene, Santa Claus and his reindeers, children singing carols, Christmas trees, spending time with your loved ones, exchanging gifts, going to the church (for the religious ones) and, of course, lots of delicious Christmas delights and traditional dishes. It’s no wonder we dream about these goodies all year long and there are special Christmas cooking books launched very year to inspire those who like to prepare their Christmas feast by themselves. If you have some spare time before Christmas Eve, you are probably hunting the best holiday recipes and asking friends, mums and grandmothers for advice, and also sifting through Google and Pinterest. We have gathered a list of the 8 most important Christmas foods and drinks to inspire you for this year’s feast:

1. Christmas turkey

Christmas turkey

Ideal for those who are not too keen on pork and prefer something lighter, turkey contains less fat than other meats. You can’t go wrong with turkey and there are dozens if not hundreds of recipes – brined, bacon-basted, with made-ahead gravy, with lemon and herbs, with stuffing, with caramelized apples on the side, with vegetables, and the list can continue for pages. Keep it simple because Christmas should be about fun and relaxation rather than working hard to cook like a chef just to impress your guests.

2. Christmas pudding

Christmas pudding

A classical recipe usually prepared in Britain, Ireland, and other countries where it has been brought by British emigrants, Christmas pudding has its origins in medieval England. The tradition says that every member of the family should stir the pudding while making a wish. Again, there are dozens of Christmas pudding versions, some easier to do, others more complex, and you can give the pudding different flavours using ingredients such as raisins, cinnamon, nuts, and vanilla.

3. Eggnog

Also known as milk punch or egg milk punch, eggnog is consumed mainly in North America during the Christmas season. Ingredients include milk, cream, sugar, whipped eggs, and distilled spirits such as rum, brandy, or bourbon. Some people also add cinnamon, vanilla and nutmeg. It’s the perfect drink to have while wearing one of those ugly Christmas sweaters.

4. Gingerbread cut in Christmas shapes

Gingerbread on the table

It’s hard to imagine the Christmas season without gingerbread. It is easy to make for anyone, and the one ingredient that should never miss is nutmeg, which gives gingerbread its specific flavour. For Christmas gingerbread you’ll need writing icing and cake decorations – if you let the kids decorate it, they’ll be very happy. And, if you have time and patience, you can try making a gingerbread house for this year. Keep in mind that gingerbread should be prepared a couple of weeks in advance, because it takes time for these cookies to soften.

5. Cranberry sauce

A healthy and delicious food, cranberry sauce not only looks festive due to its beautiful red colour, but it also complements perfectly your roast turkey. Health benefits include large amounts of vitamin C.

6. Roast potatoes

Another simple recipe, although with more calories compared to boiled potatoes, roast potatoes shouldn’t miss from your Christmas dinner. Crispy, crunchy roast potatoes are the dream of any guest coming in from the freezing cold outside. The secret of getting potatoes that are soft inside and crunchy on the exterior is boiling them before roasting (it’s important to boil them partially – don’t wait until you can make a mash out of them).

7. Tiramisu

Tiramisu cake

Not exactly a Christmas recipe, Tiramisu wins the battle for your Christmas cake dilemma because it’s delicious and so easy to prepare. This type of cake helps you save time and effort because you don’t have to do any baking and you can use ready-made panettone or ladyfingers instead. The ingredient common to all tiramisu recipes, however, is mascarpone. Most people prepare Tiramisu with espresso or strong coffee, while others also add amaretto liqueur. The important thing when preparing Tiramisu for winter holidays is to use your imagination to create a Christmas-themed garnish or décor – or you can look for decorating ideas on the Internet just as well.

8. Mulled wine

mulled wine

Are you celebrating Christmas in a colder climate? A steaming mug of spiced mulled wine is a must! It takes less than 10 minutes to prepare this flavoured wonder and ingredients include red wine, cinnamon, star anise, cloves, oranges, lemons, and brown sugar.

What Christmas recipes will you cook this year? Although it is easier to buy ready-made Christmas delights, it’s worth trying at least one item on the list above. Nothing says Christmas more like feeling the smell of a traditional dish being cooked while you are waiting for Santa. Invite over some friends who will bring the garnish and salads while you will be cooking beef or turkey, or at least try a fast mulled-wine – you won’t regret it!

Christmas Eve traditions around the world

 

Christmas Eve traditions around the world

Christmas Decoration

Christmas Eve or December 24 is that magical evening when you are eating a delicious dinner with family and friends and children are waiting for Santa. However, things don’t look exactly like this all over the world. Here is what people do on Christmas Eve in various countries:

Argentina

Fireworks at night

People usually go to a mass in the late afternoon and have Christmas dinner in the garden, because in the Southern Hemisphere it’s summer in December. Typical dishes include roasted pork, turkey, or goat, stuffed tomatoes, salads, and puddings. Fireworks are being launched at midnight to announce the birth of Christ. Meanwhile, people start opening gifts under the Christmas tree and afterwards stay up until late with family and friends. Most of the Christmas Day is spent sleeping.

Australia

Because it’s also summer in Australia, people may be camping at Christmas. In spite of the summer heat, the Aussie hang wreaths on their front doors and sing Christmas carols on Christmas Eve just like people in the Old World do. According to a popular Australian Christmas song, Santa gives his reindeers a rest when he reaches Australia and uses kangaroos instead.

Denmark

christmas tree

Danish children are very lucky as they may receive 24 small gifts, one for each day of December until Christmas Eve. Most people go to church for Christmas service on December 24 to hear the Christmas sermon. Afterwards they have a walk and feed animals and birds, as it is customary for people in Denmark to give animals a treat on Christmas Eve.

Japan

You’ll always find an interesting version of Christmas in non-Christian countries, including Japan. In the Nippon archipelago, Christmas is known as a time to spread happiness rather than a religious celebration, and Christmas Eve is more important than Christmas day, resembling Valentine’s Day celebrations, with romantic meals and eating at KFC. The next day schools and businesses are normally open because Christmas is not a national holiday.

Nigeria

Artificial Christmas trees usually decorate Nigerian homes and presents are exchanged. Nigerians also serve turkey, but their Christmas meals can also include beef, goat, sheep, or chicken. Children receive new clothes and are taken by parents to see Santa Claus. Most families throw Christmas parties on December 24 and people go to church on Christmas morning to give thanks to God.

Romania

Nativity Scene

The actual Christmas celebrations begin on Christmas Eve, when families decorate the Christmas tree. Children go out carol singing from home to home and are offered traditional sweets and money for singing well. Sometimes adults go carolling as well. Carol singers usually carry with them the “Star Carol” a star made of coloured paper, silver foil, and bells, and featuring a nativity scene in the middle. The majority of Romanians eat pork for Christmas dinner, and traditional foods are made from the pig slaughtered on December 20, when people celebrate St. Ignatius’s Day.

Spain

Spanish people go to Midnight Mass or “La Misa Del Gallo” on December 24, and have dinner before the service. Seafood is a popular choice for Christmas dinners, especially in Galicia. After the midnight service people go out on the streets carrying torches, singing, and playing guitars. Four days later, on December 28, the Spanish celebrate the “Day of the Innocent Saints”, which is similar to April Fool’s Day – people try to trick each other and even TV stations share silly stories.

Sweden

In Sweden people use hay straws to make decorations in order to remind them that Jesus was born in a manger. Most times, straw is used to make goats that guard the Christmas tree – even huge ones, like the straw goat that has been built in the city of Gävle each year since 1966. On Christmas Eve afternoon Swedes watch Donald Duck on TV – about half of the Swedish population watches “Donald Duck and his friends wish you a Merry Christmas”, and the habit dates back from 1959.

Ukraine

spider web

Unlike most countries, Ukraine celebrates Christmas on January 7 because it follows the old ‘Julian’ calendar for religious celebrations. This means that Christmas Eve is celebrated on January 6, and people may fast all day long before having dinner. It is said that you have to wait until the first star is seen in the sky and only afterwards you can eat. All the patience is worth, although, because the meal has 12 dishes, representing Jesus’s 12 disciplines. The main dish is “kutia”, a sweet porridge made of wheat. Another Christmas custom specific to Ukraine is decorating the Christmas tree with artificial spider’s web – the legend says that a poor woman did not afford to decorate her Christmas tree, and she found a glittering web spider decorating her tree on Christmas morning.

What other Christmas Eve traditions do you know and which do you hold with your family? Share with us the way you celebrate Christmas!

7 best places to travel at Christmas

7 best places to travel at Christmas

It’s common for people in most cultures to spend Christmas at home with family members decorating the Christmas tree and exchanging gifts. On the other hand, this option can be quite stressful – preparing the house for guests, cooking Christmas delights, setting the table, dealing with not-so-pleasant remarks from some family members, and cleaning the mess afterwards. What about spending the Christmas somewhere else, preferably in a place with the magical atmosphere specific to Christmas postcards? We have chosen 7 wonderful places to celebrate the birth of Christ or just enjoy the lights and the Christmas markets if you are more on the secular side of this holiday:

1. Lapland, Finland

Winter Landscape

Lapland is one of the most popular destinations during winter holidays and is preferred by those who like a Northern Christmas. Lapland is not just an imaginary spot where Santa lives; in fact it’s the northern part of Finland, locally called Korvatunturi. The destination is north of the Article Circle, so make sure you bring warm clothes with you. One of the main attractions is a tourist theme park called “Christmas Land” and nearby you can also visit Santa’s home. Other activities you might like are skiing, skating, going to the sauna, eating local foods, and admiring the view of cemeteries, where family members of the deceased take lanterns and candles on Christmas Eve.

2. Vienna, Austria

Vienna is the perfect destination if you don’t like arctic temperatures and enjoy an old-fashioned Christmas. Walking around, admiring Vienna’s breath-taking architecture, and shopping for gifts at Christkindlmarkts are the most popular activities here. If you like soft music, go to a Vienna Boys’ Choir concert and forget about the freezing cold with a mug of spicy mulled wine.

3. Strasbourg, France


Strasbourg, Capitale de Noël 2013 by VilledeStrasbourg
What makes this destination so special at Christmas is the themed Christmas villages scattered throughout the city and accompanied by sellers of gastronomic delights, from biscuits and mulled wine to cheese and foie gras. The market in Strasbourg is the oldest in France and at the same time it has adapted to modern times admirably, with gleaming shop windows, twinkling decorations, stalls with gifts and treats, and carols being heard from nearby churches.

4. Santa Claus, Indiana, USA

Walking on street

The temptation of visiting a city named after Santa Claus is very big, we must admit. Furthermore, the weather is perfect for Christmas, with temperatures around 0 degrees, and there are many Christmas-themed gifts and activities. From riding with Santa to chatting with elves, children will find lots of nice things to do here. The one thing that makes Santa Claus different from the other destinations is that here it is Christmas all year round and you can always come to Santa Claus if you miss this magical holiday.

5. New York City, USA

christmas market

There will always be something interesting to see in New York City, and on Christmas time, there is one extra attraction – a huge Norway spruce tree measuring 70 to 100 feet, and decorated with approximately 30,000 lights attached to 5 miles of wiring! On top of the giant Christmas tree lies a 550 pound star, making it truly unique among other trees. If you haven’t seen it with your own eyes, you probably find it familiar because you’ve seen it in the second movie in the Home Alone series.

6. Sydney, Australia

Beach Australia

Would you prefer a warm Christmas instead of freezing in a Christmas market like you’ve been doing for years? Going to Sydney is a great idea if you can get used to the idea of not seeing snow and having hot drinks. Make your fantasy of spending Christmas under a scorching sun reality and go to Bondi Beach on December 25. Local families are also going there and the event is carefully controlled by authorities, which means there are no alcoholic drinks allowed on the beach.

7. Mexico

Here is a moderate Christmas option regarding temperatures; you don’t have freezing cold but neither hot sun, as daytime temperatures are usually between 15 and 20 degrees. Traditions are slightly different due to the country’s Roman Catholic predominant religion. You don’t need to be here on Christmas Eve, as Christmas celebrations start on December 12, with the “La Guadalupana” (Virgin of Guadalupe) celebration and end on January 6, with the Epiphany. If in western nations it is Santa Claus who brings gifts on Christmas Eve, in Mexico children are visited by the Three Magic Kings in the early morning of January 6. Nativity scenes are very common and almost every family builds one at their place. The birth of Christ at midnight on Christmas Eve is announced with great joy – families go to church while fireworks as being launched, bells are ringing, and whistles are blowing.

So, what are you doing this Christmas? Are you staying at home or are you going to one of the destinations mentioned above? No matter where you spend winter holidays this year, this is a magical time and you should go for the option that makes you happier and makes you feel the Christmas spirit the most!

10 things to do in Lapland at Christmas

 

10 things to do in Lapland at Christmas

Lapland is one of the most popular Christmas destinations, partly because of the legend saying that Santa Claus lives there, and partly due to the many attractions created by the Finnish just to attract tourists. Some of the recommended Christmas activities will cost you some money, while for others all you need to do is go out and admire the amazing sight, similar to the one you know from Christmas cards.

1. Northern Lights

Lapland is located north of the Arctic Circle, which means you can witness here a spectacular show every night between January and April. Going to Lapland does not guarantee you will see the Northern Lights, as the phenomenon is unpredictable, but keep an eye on the sky when the night is clear and dark and you might be lucky.

2. Skiing

Lapland Scenerie

Lapland is not a destination for pretentious skiers looking for giant slopes; if you are a beginner or you just ski pretty well and that’s all, the snow covering Lapland from October to April will be perfect for you. In Lapland, cross-country skiing is practiced, which means you’ll have to move across on your own instead of using ski lifts.

3. Visiting Santa Claus

finland harness

Santa Claus does live in Lapland! His official home is in Rovaniemi and children accompanying their parents to Lapland are always rushing in to visit the joyful red-coated old man. The main attractions in the area include the Santa Claus Village where you can see the post office where letters from around the world end up, the Santa Park, a Christmas-themed park, and Jolukka, a rural attraction where children can meet Santa’s elves, see reindeers, and pick berries.

4. Visiting the Ranua Zoo

In this wildlife park you can see 50 different arctic animals, including foxes and polar bears. Accommodation is available and here you will find the perfect winter holiday mix, all in one place: holiday villages, camping sites, conference rooms, shops, dining facilities, cafes, and wildlife safaris. The Ranua Zoo is different from your average zoo, where animals are just locked in cages. The staff is running protection programs for endangered northern animal species, such as the polar bear, the arctic fox, the musk ox, and the snowy owl.

5. The Pilke Science Centre

Child Skiing

The exhibitions at the Pilke Science Centre are dedicated to northern forest issues. Here you’ll find unbelievable things about wood and its uses (for instance, medicines and many other products contain products obtained from forests). Forests are an important part of the Finnish culture and even if you didn’t have in mind updating your general knowledge on Christmas, the Pilke Science Centre is a must-see if you really want to understand more about the country you are visiting.

6. Reindeer and husky excursions

Huskies pulling

A visit at the Arctic Circle is nothing without getting into direct contact with the Lappish nature in a traditional and friendly manner – moving around on a sledge pulled by huskies! Or you can travel just like Sami people did, on a reindeer pulled sleigh.

7. Staying in an ice hotel

The Snow Village in Lainio hosts a large construction made of snow and ice, including a restaurant, hotel rooms, and ice sculptures. If you are lucky, you can watch the Northern Lights show from the inside of an igloo. Don’t worry about the cold – ice hotel rooms are comfortable enough to stay in if you are equipped properly and you can gather with other vacationers around an open fire and have a snack.

8. Ice fishing

Many tourists visiting Lapland try their luck at ice fishing. You’ll probably get to the spot on snowmobile and have the possibility to take a break every once in a while beside an open fire. You have good chances of making a catch in these pristine waters and finding species such as salmon, trout, and grayling.

9. Praying in the Rovaniemi church

This Evangelical Church has been completed in 1950 and is known for its unusual interior and pictures. Here you can also listen to a 4000 pipes organ and admire a huge fresco behind the altar, called the Source of Life. The church can seat 850 people and is visited by tourists who need a place to pray or just a purpose for their walk along the river. The church is peaceful, and the painting is different from what you would expect from a church interior. If you get there on Christmas Day, maybe you can attend the service.

10. Visiting the Urho Kekkonen National Park

Ice exhibit

The Urho Kekkonen National Park is one of the largest protected areas in Finland (2550 square kilometres). Tourists choose this place for hiking, admiring the wilderness, and trying various outdoor adventures. Routes are well marked and there are also easier ones for people with less experience. You’ll probably meet reindeers getting close enough to make you feel thrilled, but not threatened. If you come here in less crowded periods, you may not even meet a single person during your walk and feel like you are the only person left on earth.

Lapland is an amazing place to visit for Christmas, especially when you are a winter destinations lover. Our advice is to spend here more than just a couple of days – there is a lot more than Santa’s home to visit and anyone getting to Lapland should also learn how to appreciate arctic animals and scenery.

21 unusual Christmas traditions around the world

21 unusual Christmas traditions around the world

Chirstmas Decoration

Christmas trees, preparing treats for Santa and his reindeers, eating turkey together, and singing carols – all these are part of the Christmas picture as most of us know it. However, the most awaited celebration of the year does not look the same for everyone; some people may have unusual Christmas traditions that would dazzle the majority. Here are just some of these unusual habits for your entertainment:

1. Punishment for naughty children

Children in Austria fear Krampus, a devil said to beat the naughty ones with branches on Christmas.

2. Hiding brooms

Cleaning tools

In Norway, people hide brooms so witches and evil spirits don’t steal them.

3. Eating at KFC

In Japan, people have been eating at KFC for Christmas ever since 1974 due to a very powerful advertising campaign.

4. Decorating banana trees

In India, typical Christmas trees are hard to find so banana or mango trees are decorated instead.

5. Going to church on roller skates

In Caracas, the capital of Venezuela, people go to church on Christmas Day on roller skates; roads are closed for this purpose.

6. Remembering those who are gone

Graveyard at night

In Portugal, families prepare extra places at the Christmas dinner for deceased relatives – this tradition though to bring good luck is called “consoda”.

7. Spiders in the Christmas tree

In Ukraine, people decorate the Christmas tree with a fake spider and a web; the custom is based on the legend of a poor woman who could not afford to decorate her tree and woke up on Christmas Day to find a spider, which had covered the tree in a beautiful glittering web.

8. Predicting your love life

Unmarried Czech women predict their love lives for the next year by standing with their back at the front door and throwing shoes over the shoulder. If the toe of the shoe is pointed towards the door, the woman will find a suitable man the next year.

9. Extra gift if you find the pickle

In Germany families hide a pickle in the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve. The first child who finds it receives a small gift.

10. Going to the sauna

In Estonia families go together to the sauna on Christmas Eve.

11. Tribute to the dead

It’s not only the Portuguese that remember their deceased family members on Christmas. Finnish people light candles at the graves of the departed, making graveyards an amazing sight.

12. Letters FROM Santa

Santa Letter

In Canada, letters to Santa are opened and replied to by volunteers on condition that you address them to Santa Claus, North Pole, Canada, HOHOHO.

13. Dirt is bad

In Guatemala, people clean their houses before Christmas and gather the waste in a large pile. They place an effigy of the devil on top of the pile and then set it on fire.

14. Santa Claus is out of a job

In Italy, Santa Claus or Babbo Natale is less popular, at least until the last years. Instead, it’s an old lady called La Befana travelling on a broom stick who delivers gifts to children on the 5th of January.

15. Cooking together

In Great Britain, family members stir the Christmas pudding together in a clockwise manner before it is cooked and make a wish as they do it.

16. Find the almond to get married

In Sweden, families prepare a festive rice pudding and hide an almond inside. The one who finds is thought to get married the next year.

17. The Yule Cat

In Iceland, an evil beast called the Yule Cat or Jólakötturinn is thought to wander hills and eat those who haven’t received new clothes before Christmas Eve.

18. Gifts in children’s shoes

In the Philippines, children leave their cleaned and polished shoes on windowsills waiting for the Three Kings to leave gifts at night; the Feast of the Three Kings marks the end of Christmas celebrations.

19. Eating a decomposed bird

In Greenland, people eat Kiviak or fermented birds on Christmas. They place the bird in the carcass of a seal seven months before so it is ready for winter holidays.

20. Celebrating with vegetables

red radishes

In Mexico, people use radishes, Brussels sprouts, and roast parsnips to carve the characters in the nativity scene for The Noche de Rabanos.

21. Someone pooping in the nativity scene

This is probably the weirdest thing to do for Christmas – in Catalonia, there is a figure called the Caganer in the nativity scene with his pants down and having a poo. This custom dates back from the 17th or 18th century and there is no explanation for it.

Although Christmas brings everyone together and highlights what we have in common, the variety of customs, some of them quite weird, making this celebration different in every culture. So, Christmas is not just a time to make the humanity more united, but also a moment when you can learn something new about other cultures and become aware of the stunning diversity of the world.

Image Locations (URL) (minimum 4 images):
Note: Please include a short 2-4 word description of what the image shows

 

7 names for Santa Claus around the world

 

7 names for Santa Claus around the world

Santa Claus

No matter where you celebrate Christmas – in Lapland or in Argentina, in Japan or in Australia, the most awaited holiday of the year cannot be without the beloved figure of Santa Claus. Santa Claus is specific to the Western culture and is known for bringing gifts to well-behaved children on Christmas Eve. There are multiple historical or mythical figures providing a basis for the old man sneaking through the chimney and offering presents to children: Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas – a Greek bishop, the German Christkind, the Dutch Sinterklaas also based on Saint Nicholas, and the Germanic god Wodan, among others. The common version of Santa Claus emerged in North America in the 19th century, and the image of the white-bearded joyous man has been taken over by multiple cultures. Here are 7 versions of Santa Claus throughout the world:

1. Papai Noel – Brazil

Christmas Tree

In Brazil, Christmas comes in the summertime, so Papai Noel dresses in a silk suit that matches hot temperatures a lot better. According to the Brazilian legend, Papai Noel lives in Greenland and each year he lands with a helicopter on the Maracana soccer stadium in the acclamation of thousands of Rio children. The symbol of Christmas enters the house through the front door rather than through the fireplace (which is uncommon in a warm country like Brasil) and leaves candy and small gifts in children’s shoes.

2. Dun Che Lao Ren (Christmas Old Man) – China

Even if Christmas is not specific to the Chinese culture, the largest people on Earth do celebrate this popular holiday. The time when Santa Claus comes is called in China the Spring Festival, when people pay respects to their ancestors and children receive toys and new clothes. Christian Chinese children hang stocking for Santa Claus to fill them with gifts and also decorate Christmas trees called “Trees of Light”. The figure of Santa Claus in China is similar to the one of Laughing Buddha, who also wears red clothing and offers gifts. However, the latter is active all year long.

3. Père Noël

Père Noël brings gifts to children in French-speaking areas and is pretty much the same as the English version, wearing red clothes, living at the North Pole, and has a group of reindeers. Children in France leave their shoes by the fireplace and fill them with carrots and treats for Gui, Père Noël’s donkey. If the child has behaved well, Père Noël will leave small presents instead.

4. Babbo Natale – Italy

Christmas Market

Babbo Natale is gaining popularity in Italy along the traditional La Befana, the old woman who delivers gifts on Janaury 6 (on Epiphany). Unlike Santa Claus, Babbo Natale is skinnier and more elegant; his reindeers are called Cometa, Ballerina, Fulmine, Donnola, Freccia, Saltarello, Donato, and Cupido and help him give gifts to children before La Befana arrives.

5. Moș Crăciun – Romania

The Romanian Santa Claus is very similar to the Western figure – he comes down the chimney and brings presents to children, but there is also a legend that suggests Moș Crăciun was not always such a nice guy. Apparently, Virgin Mary asked Moș Crăciun’s wife, Mrs. Claus, for shelter. She agreed, but because her husband was a cruel person, accommodated her in the stable without his knowledge. Moș Crăciun finds out the truth and he cuts his wife’s hands as a punishment. Virgin Mary works a miracle and puts her hands back in place. Moș Crăciun is amazed and asks for forgiveness from God. His deep atonement has determined him to give his entire fortune to poor children and make presents every year on Christmas Eve.

6. Άγιος Βασίλης (Agios Vassilis) – Greece

Christmas moon

Unlike the Western Santa Claus, Agios Vassilis brings gifts on New Year’s Eve. He is based on St Basil, a kind man who used to help poor people when he was bishop in Caesarea. However, St Basil looked completely different from Santa Claus – he was thin and tall and had a black beard. It is not known exactly how Agios Vassilis became the Greek Santa Claus, but one thing is for sure -he would offer gifts first to the needy and then to all children and adults. Furthermore, the sweet bread served on New Year’s Eve in Greece is called after Agios Vassilis – Vassilopita.

7. Ded Moroz (Grandfather Frost) – Russia

Dred Moroz

Ded Moroz, also called Dedushka Moroz (diminutive), brings gifts to children on New Year’s Eve, accompanied by Snegurochka (Snow Maiden), his granddaughter and helper. Ded Moroz is the only version that has a female helper and is also different due to the blue color of his coat. The figure of Ded Moroz has influenced multiple countries in the Eastern bloc and ex-Sovietic space, such as Armenia, Belarus, Bulgaria, Kazahstand, Poland, in Ukraine, and others. However, most of these cultures already had the traditional figure of Santa Claus and versions of Ded Moroz were imposed forcefully by Communist regimes.

Regardless of his name, Santa Claus continues to bring gifts to children all over the world during winter holidays and is expected with the same eagerness each year.

All you need to know about Christmas in the Southern hemisphere

 

All you need to know about Christmas in the Southern hemisphere

We all associate Christmas with snow and freezing temperatures. We don’t feel it is Christmas when it doesn’t snow and most kids will add some large snowflakes on their Christmas drawing or letter to Santa. But the world is a diverse place and what is familiar to one can be unusual to other. This is also the case with Christmas – if you find yourself in the Southern Hemisphere on December 25, things will look completely different from what you usually see on traditional Christmas cards. Here’s what you should know about the way Christmas is celebrated between the Equator and the South Pole:

You may not feel very Christmassy

Sunny Christmas

Imagine temperatures over 35, long sunny days, summer holiday time, and spending lots of time outdoors. People from the Northern Hemisphere definitely are entitled to feel weird. The reason why traditional Christmas is celebrated like this is to shed some light on the dark winter months through candles, cosy fires, and house lights. Whether you are celebrating the birth of Christ or you are less religious and think more about spending time with friends and having feasts, Christmas traditionally falls at winter to make it easier to get through the cold bad weather. In the Southern Hemisphere you’ll have to remember to apply your sunscreen instead.

Customs are similar

Everything is pretty much the same in the Southern Hemisphere, except for the hot weather and green vegetation: people sing carols, houses and public places are decorated with Christmas trees, and children wait for Santa Claus to come visit them. On Christmas Day friends and family exchange gifts and have a Christmas feast.

Meats are served in the Southern Hemisphere as well

christmas decoration

Australians serve turkey and ham along with seafood and salads. Brazilians cook turkey, but they do it in a different manner from Americans – they marinate it in cachaça (liquor made from sugar cane) or in champagne. The stuffing is usually made from fruit and toasted manioc. On the other hand, Argentinians prepare niños envueltos (literally meaning children in a blanket) – mixture of minced beef and rice wrapped in cabbage. South Africans stick to the traditional barbecue even on Christmas and sometimes give it a twist by having a sausage called boerewors. Other Christmas foods on the African continent include chicken with piri-piri sauce, eaten in Mozambique.

Eating cold food

Although many Christmas dishes in the Southern Hemisphere are inspired by traditional foods, most of the food is cold because the temperatures are too hot for a traditional Christmas feast. Just a few items are served hot, and the food is usually associated with refreshing drinks, such as beer, cocktails, or sparkling wine.

People go to the beach

Sea shore

On Christmas Day, beaches are usually packed in the Southern Hemisphere. Here it’s not Christmas Day if you’re not going to the beach. Santa probably needs a different suit here. Even tourists do the same and if you are in Sidney at Christmas time you definitely need to go to the Bondi Beach, where around 40,000 people come on Christmas Day.

The indigenous culture is integrated into Christmas celebrations

Tribal dance

Since their arrival in Australia, Europeans would pick wild flowers looking like bells and green foliage to create Christmas decorations. It was even more exciting than spending Christmas at home, where trees were bare and you couldn’t find any flowers. Today, the indigenous culture continues to influence modern Christmas celebrations.

Santa still gets a treat

But with a different flavour. In Australia, aside from the traditional milk and cookies, Santa will also find a vegemite sandwich, and the reindeer will be offered a carrot.

Christmas in July

Christmas in July

Keen on the traditional Christmas atmosphere, people in the Southern Hemisphere have thought about celebrating Christmas in July, when it’s winter in their home countries. This phenomenon dates from the late 1970s to the early 1980s can be seen in countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Madagascar, Argentina, Comoros, Angola, Madagascar, Bolivia, Paraguay, Papua New Guinea, South Africa, and Samoa. Although these countries celebrate what is also called Midwinter Christmas, they still observe Christmas on December 25, like the rest of the world. So, you can’t say anymore you celebrate Christmas just once a year. However, it is seen as an additional holiday and not everybody is celebrating it, although its popularity has been growing in the last years. At least, this way people in the Southern Hemisphere can enjoy warm drinks in front of the fireplace as well while waiting for Santa.

Regardless of where you spend Christmas and of the number of degrees displayed by the thermometer, the essence of this holiday stays the same: celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ and spending time with your loved ones. The Christmas tree is always part of the background and traditional dishes are served, although personalized with local ingredients. So, are you tempted by spending Christmas in the Southern Hemisphere?