Posts Tagged ‘Christmas

Sarah, 24, comes from Lippstadt, between Cologne and Hanover, in Germany. We met last year in Paris. Now she studies in Preston in England. Despite all those trips, she never forgets the German traditions for Christmas and she explained them to me.

  • How do you prepare Christmas in Germany?

Every Sunday before Christmas (4 Sundays), we light a candle of the Advent wreath. The Advent wreath is a tradition in Germany. The Advent wreaths are often home-made.

We also have the Advent calendar. It starts on 1st December. Each day, a new window is opened and you can find something inside to wait until Christmas. There thousands of different calendars, and there are often home-made too. Some are filled with little gifts, other with more expensive gifts. But the traditional one used to be filled with chocolates. You can find Advent calendar from September in the shops.

  • Is there typically German tradition for Christmas?

We buy the Christmas tree only few days before Christmas. In general, all the family decorates it but you can pick one person in charge of the decoration.

On 24th December, the day starts with a breakfast with all the family, and then everybody helps for the cooking of the Christmas dinner and for the afternoon tea.

Before dinner, you can sing, go to the Midnight Mass or go for a walk.

Children have to leave the room before having their gifts. When everything is ready, someone rings a bell and the children can come in. Candles and Christmas songs create a Christmas atmosphere.

  • What are the typical German decorations for Christmas?

You can have fairy lights, Christmas baubles, the Advent wreath, a Christmas tree and other Christmas ornaments.

  • What do you eat for Christmas?

It depends on where you come from Germany. For example, you can have turkey with red cabbage, potatoes knödel or pear, or typical German sausages with potatoes or carp fish.

We also eat Christmas cookies, gingerbread (Lebkuchen) or macaroons.

  • Do you also celebrate Santa Claus in Germany? What is it? What do you do? Is more important than Christmas?

On 5th December, we put a boot in front of our door. During the night, Santa Claus comes and lets sweets and little gifts in the boot. But it is not more important than Christmas.

  • What would you like to add something about Christmas?

Today, traditions are not so strict. For example, the Christmas meal does not have to be very elaborated, you can cook something different if your want.

I would like to thank Sarah for this interview.

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.


Canadian traditions

Newfoundland Mummers

A Blog about Christmas in Canada

While we are waiting until Christmas eve to celebrate, the Mexican families are already having fun!

In Mexico, Christmas celebrations begin the 16th at night, and continue until Christmas eve. It is called the posadas, literally « inn » or « hospitality ».

Friends or neighbours gather in front of the house within which the party is going to take place. They start to sing and ask for shelter for the night to the family that is receiving.  It symbolises Joseph and Mary’s journey to Bethlehem. Once the song is finished, all the « pilgrims » go inside and the party can start. Everyone drinks and eats the food the family has prepared. The most traditional beverage is a hot fruit-based beverage called ponche.

Then comes the moment to break the  piñata. Originally, they were made of a clay pot covered with papier-mâché and crepe paper. The most traditional piñata is shaped like a star with 7 points. The points symbolize the  7 deadly sins. But nowadays, you can find piñatas of various sizes, shapes and colours. Each person in turn is blindfolded and tries to break the piñata with a stick. The rest of the people sing a little song during which the participant has to break the piñata; otherwise, the next person is blindfolded. It goes on until the piñata is finally broken. In order to be sure that the blindfolded person will not break the piñata, the other people shout wrong directions to misguide him/her. In a very sadistic version, the piñata is suspended from a rope that can be easily moved. The person in charge of the rope can then lower, raise, push or pull the piñata. It makes the breaking more interesting but a lot more difficult. Once the piñata is broken, all the children rush below it and try to collect the candy that falls out. If there is a second piñata, the same thing starts over.

The next day, the same party starts over in a different home. Quite often, you can see these parties taking place between neighbours of a whole street. Each day, the hosting family is different, but the people invited remain the same.


If you want to make your own piñata

Learn more about Christmas in Mexico

More about the piñatas and the piñata song

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



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


1er décembre !

La première case du calendrier de l’Avent est ouverte, Noël approche et tout autour du globe les nuits s’embrasent. Tandis que les Lyonnais se préparent pour le 8 décembre et qu’en Allemagne « les rues s’illuminent« , à l’autre bout du monde les jardins australiens s’éclairent de mille feux. En effet, certaines villes comme celle de Perth encouragent la décoration des jardins et des maisons en organisant des concours des plus beaux ornements de Noël. Et la concurrence est rude ! Le prix remporté par le gagnant lui permet… au moins de payer la facture d’électricité du mois de décembre. En effet, jusqu’à Noël jardins et demeures concourant restent éclairés une bonne partie de la nuit. Ce n’est sans doute pas très écologique, mais la magie de Noël est là. Pendant que les familles françaises sortent en ville admirer les illuminations, les familles australiennes se promènent de jardin en jardin admirer les décorations.  Si ces dernières ont une origine moins religieuses que celles de Lyon, pour le reste les thèmes sont semblables aux nôtres : flocons de neige, pères Noël, rennes, etc. Une tradition clairement venue de l’hémisphère nord, puisqu’en Australie, c’est l’été en cette période de fêtes.

Parmi les autres traditions importées d’Europe, on retrouve aussi le très britannique Christmas cake accompagné de crackers, ainsi que les retrouvailles entre amis du 26 décembre ou boxing day. Les pâtisseries de Noël sont souvent l’occasion de dévoiler les talents de chacun en matière de glaçage, de coloris et de biscuits décoratifs. Les crakers, eux, sont des sortes de pétards contenant de petits objets, des couronnes en papier, des cadeaux ou encore des blagues. Pour les craquer, chacun tient l’extrémité d’un cracker dans une main,  son voisin en tenant l’autre extrémité (on forme ainsi un cercle), puis tous tirent en même temps. Enfin, boxing day est un jour de liberté dont on profite pour faire les soldes, retrouver des amis, déguster les restes de Noël, offrir encore des cadeaux…

Mais s’il est une tradition bien australienne, ce sont les barbies (ou barbecues) sur la plage. Et oui, hémisphère sud oblige. La saison est propice aux sorties, aux baignades et aux barbecues plus qu’au vin chaud au coin du feu.

Juste pour le plaisir, une petite blague sortie d’un cracker : how do you call a rein-deer with no eye?

…No-eye deer (no idea)!

Et Merry Christmas à tous !

« Oh! Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way,
Christmas in Australia on a scorching summers day, Hey!
Jingle bells, jingle bells, Christmas time is beaut !,
Oh what fun it is to ride in a rusty Holden Ute. »

Palmier de Noël

Palmier de Noël

Focus : la Fête des Lumières à Lyon

La Fête des Lumières à Lyon a lieu chaque année le 8 décembre depuis 1852. A cette époque, les habitants de la ville avaient choisi de placer des lumières à toutes les fenêtres pour célébrer la mise en place de la statue de la Vierge Marie sur la colline de Fourvière. Depuis, la fête a pris énormément d’ampleur. Elle représente une sorte de ralliement pour tous les Lyonnais et est l’occasion pour la ville d’inviter architectes, artistes, éclairagistes et bien d’autres à laisser s’exprimer leur talent pour mettre en valeur Lyon de manière spectaculaire, unique et toujours renouvelée.

Si vous souhaitez vous y rendre cette année, vous trouverez toutes les informations nécessaires sur le site de la Fête des Lumières 2011.

Quelques sites français pour en savoir plus :

La Fête des Lumières présentée sur le site de la ville de Lyon

Les illuminations de Noël dans Paris

Quelques sites en anglais pour en savoir plus :

Comment fête-on Noël en Australie ?

Comment confectionner des crackers ?

Quelques chants de Noël australiens…

Recettes de Christmas cakes pour gourmets et gourmands

Recettes de desserts de Noël australiens

En savoir plus sur le 26 décembre en Australie (boxing day)

Et une vidéo pour découvrir quelques jardins illuminés


mai 2020