Happy Holidays!

No, I’m not declaring a “War on Christmas!” This season does encompass many holidays starting with Thanksgiving and ending with New Year’s Day. Different religions and cultures have other celebrations and observances. I love this season with all the lights, decorations, and songs.  I have so many fond family memories of decorating the Christmas tree with my siblings and father -- laughing and squabbling.  

Even cultures that celebrate Christmas, have different traditions, rituals and customs associated with it. Here are a few examples and samples of Christmas around the world:

  • The German holiday season begins December 5, the celebration of St. Nicholas’s Day. 
  • German children look forward to Christmas Eve, when St. Nicholas brings gifts and rewards to all good children.
  • In Latin America Viejo Pascero or Old Man Christmas is the central figure in the Christmas Celebration.
  • The children of the Netherlands put carrots and hay out for St. Nicholas’s horse in return for gifts, candies, cookies, fruits & nuts.
  • Pere Noel was the bearer of luxuries for French peasants in the Middle Ages. He left gifts in children’s wooden shoes.
  • In Norway, Juelesvenn or gift bringer comes during the mid-winter festivities of Jul to hide lucky barley stalks.
  • In England, Father Christmas travels from home to home often leaving a Yule Log for each fireplace.
  • In Poland, Star Man visits all homes after Christmas Eve supper bringing small gifts and cookies to the children.
  • St. Stephen is honored in Ireland on Dec. 26 for his good deeds. Kids go door to door singing for pennies.
  • In Russia, Grandfather Frost travels from house to house bringing gifts on New Year’s Day.
  • In Italy La Befana arrives on Epiphany Eve or January 5 coming down the chimney with gifts, 
  • La Befana waves a cane to warn bad children—who will receive only a lump of coal.

“And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store? What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.” Theodor Seuss Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss)

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