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Which one of you ever thought that preparing for Christmas was a piece of cake? If you want to have a great time for Christmas, let me take you with me to Canada, also known as the country of Caribous. Come and discover how Christmas is celebrated there,  as a mix of different cultures: French, Irish, German or British…

In addition with the many choirs that are singing a little bit everywhere in the cities of this federal State, Christmas also comes with huge and splendid decorations for houses and Christmas trees, as well as a lot of gifts. Greeting cards are also shared. One tradition, specific to the Canadian culture is to offer and donate gifts. This tradition is full of value and meaning, on the one hand for the person which gives the gift, and on the other hand for the person receiving the gift. These gifts are often found in houses serving as decoration items.

Merry Christmas!

Canadian singles or even foreigners ones will be happy to spend Christmas in Northern Canada. The “Sink Tuck” festival is held there every Winter. While keeping the gifts tradition, various dance shows are organized all night long to celebrate Christmas and single ladies can meet single men. This tradition finds its origin in Ste-Catherine, who is the region’s patron saint.

In Nova Scotia for instance, Christmas is celebrated with songs. Gifts such as “belsnickels” (little chaps, often farmers) are offered and mummers go up and down the region in order to offer candies to children and sing songs more than 200 years-old.

In Montreal, Christmas is marked by Santa Claus parade in malls. Before going home to a yummy meal and family, children can first admire Santa Claus in his tank.

To conclude, Christmas is really worth experiencing in Canada, for those who celebrate the religious holiday as well as those who just want to spend some time sharing unforgettable moments with family.

Moan’Phisémy

Canadian traditions

Newfoundland Mummers

A Blog about Christmas in Canada

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In many countries, you just cannot miss the signs of upcoming Yuletide season: strings of the most fairy lights start crowning the streets, shop windows get covered with snowflakes, stuffed with gift-wraps and special offers (“50% off on your second item!”). In Germany, at the offset of the Advent period, you also notice the sudden appearance of tiny floodlit villages: Christmas markets, Weihnachtsmärkte in German, have finally arrived.

A 800-year-old tradition

Christmas markets have first been heard of in so far as the 13th century. Originally German, they were initially set up in order to offer village inhabitants the goods they might need during the cold winter season. One of the oldest Christmas markets, and one of the world’s most famous ones today, is the Nuremberg Christmas market: in the Middle Ages, it was located in front of churches in order to attract worshippers after the mass. For craftsmen, it was a great opportunity to secure the loyalty of new buyers. It is not till the 19th century that Christmas markets really became part of cities’ life and turned into what we know today, with an offer much clearlier related to Yuletide celebrations.

That being said, the features of Christmas markets have not changed too much along the centuries. They still are a place where craftsmen offer local products, from scented candles to wooden figurines and knit beanies, and let’s not forget an extended choice of toys and Christmas decoration.

Lebkuchen (Photo 5CIT ISIT)

 

Paris: a Christmas market or just a plain market?

Christmas markets are not uncommon in France, though; I recently got the opportunity to wander through the Christmas market at La Défense, located in Paris’ business district and the biggest in the Parisian region. The West Indian stand was rubbing elbows with the one selling sausages from Toulouse; a few steps away, some stands were offering make-up products stunningly well represented by their saleswomen; another stand was displaying Oriental products, from home design items to hookahs; farther away, a saleswoman was ranting passers-by in a loud voice, praising the qualities of a revolutionary gril pan (“nothing sticks in!”). The atmosphere was significantly more cosmopolitan and between the smells of faux-leather bags, beauty products and exotic dishes, I started feeling something of a headache. So basically, you do not feel as much in a fairyland in Paris as on the Universitätsplatz, in Heidelberg. Abroad, Christmas markets spread later on (around the 18th century), but on a much more commercial basis. The Christmas market in Strasbourg, though, remains a reference, even for Germans, and is the most well-known in France.

On the very famous Marienplatz, in Munich, the smells of grilled sausages, of chocolate pancakes and of irresistible Kartoffelpuffer (see below) mix up in the air. Among the stands, a cup of mulled wine in the hand, you realize that the whole thing is not so much about attracting tourists and visitors by any mean in freezing temperatures: Weihnachtsmärkte are much more a chance to share everyday a warmth and a conviviality that only belong to the most beautiful Yuletide celebrations. 

As a bonus, here is a brief lexicon regarding the “must-dos” on Christmas markets:

  • Glühwein: mulled wine prepared from red wine, lemon, cinnamon and cloves. Kids are not to be forgotten since mulled wine stands always offer Kinderglühwein, an alcohol-free version of mulled wine which is more like a fruity tea. Weißer Glühwein is made with white wine.  You also have to know that every cup of mulled wine goes with a unique customized cup, (see picture) designed for the town you are in and for the current year.
  • Kartoffelpuffer: a potato pancake fried in a pan and to be enjoyed with some applesauce. You will be surprised by how tasty this unexpected mix is.  In Bayern, these pancakes are also called Raibadatschi!
  • Bratwürstchen: the Christmas-market-special hot dog: it is a grilled sausage little sandwich, which you can fill according to your preferences with a Currywurst (curry sausage), a Bratwurst (pork or veal), a Bockwurst/Weisswurst (seasoned pork and veal), a Knackwurst (pork and beef)…
  • Lebkuchen: gingerbread decorated with sweet sentences that will undoubtedly make someone happy.
  • Flammkueche: delicious Alsatian dish made with crème fraiche, thinly sliced bacon and onions.
  • Feuerzangenbowle: “fire punch” prepared with fruit juice and rhum.

 

Christmas - Photo 5CIT ISIT

 

Links:

An overview of Christmas markets in Germany (in English)

A little dictionay of German Christmas terms (in German)

Christmas markets in the UK

How to make mulled wine, by Jamie Oliver

 


novembre 2017
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