The countdown begins to Christmas! In the United Kingdom, the tinsel is being strung around the house, thick festive jumpers are being worn and warm mulled wine is being drunk. But what about the rest of the world? How do other countries celebrate Christmas?
In the United Kingdom, most British families celebrate Christmas together on the 25th of December – often to have a traditional Christmas lunch after having opened their presents in front of each other. However, Christmas is celebrated in the Netherlands on the 5th of December and for Russia and Ukraine, Christmas is celebrated on the 7th of January! Its also very common to see a Christmas tree in a British household, which was first popularized by Prince Albert. Prince Albert has german origins and he missed his own Christmas traditions, hence why he brought the Christmas tree to the British public. Whereas in India, people decorate mango and banana trees instead of fir trees, due to the hot climate, and Ukrainians decorate their trees with spider webs due to an old legend where a spider turned their webs into gold and silver for a poor family.
Christmas isn’t just about the day itself – it is about the weeks leading up to it. The United Kingdom usually preps for Christmas by carol singing, festive markets, and Christmas fairy lights. On the 5th of December, German children leave shoes outside the house to be filled with sweets overnight. In Czech republic, single women, on Christmas Eve, will turn their backs to the house and throw a shoe over their shoulder to see whether they will find love or not next year. In Norway on Christmas Eve, there is the strict rule of no cleaning – all brooms are kept locked away in case they are stolen by witches. Finally, Japanese usually tuck into a bucket of KFC on Christmas eve due to a widespread ad campaign for the deep-fried fast-food in 1974.
British families will often eat turkey on Christmas day, accompanied by cranberry sauce, brussel sprouts and pigs-in-blankets and then finished off with a mince pie and some Christmas pudding. In South Africa, the Christmas delicacy is a deep-fried caterpillar of the Emperor Moth! Less unusual Christmas dishes are Romania’s Ciorba de perisoara, a delicious vegetable broth with meatballs and another is Spanish turkey stuffed with truffles, often served with chorizo and mushrooms. For dessert on Christmas, Swedes will often eat a festive rice pudding that has an almond hidden in it – whoever finds it will supposedly be married within a year. Other Christmassy desserts are Philippine’s moist rice-coconut-cheese cake, German Stollen fruit cake and Austrian’s chocolate sponge with apricot jam – delicious!
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