Christmas in Austria is celebrated on December 25th, however, many towns and cities open Christmas markets as early as mid November selling decorations, sweet mulled wine called Glühwein as well as various christmas inspired foods. Christmas in Austria is called Advent and officially begins on the 4th Sunday prior to Christmas day. Many families celebrate Advent with wreaths made of twigs that are carefully decorated with beautiful ribbons, electric candles (the modern revision) as well as sparklers. Children get excited about the sweets that include liqueur filled chocolate bottles, jelly rings and “Windbäckerei” (meringue in the shape of rings and stars). “Gebackener Karpfen” (fried carp) is served on Christmas Eve as well as roasted goose and turkey, for dessert they eat chocolate and apricot cake called, “Sachertorte,” and Austrian Christmas cookies called “Weihnachtsbaeckerei.”
Many children believe that Christkind decorates the tree and leaves presents on Christmas Eve for the good children. The Christkind is a golden haired baby who has wings that symbolizes the newborn Christ. Some children believe they receive presents from St. Nicholas on December 6th, St. Nicholas’s evil accomplish is known as Krampus, a beast like, horned demon who roams the streets wearing rags and carrying chains. He scares bad children and is said to capture the worst children and steal them away in his sack.
Christmas in Iceland consists of 13 tricky troll type characters who visit children across the country for the 13 nights leading up to Christmas. Everynight of Yuletide children place their good shoes by a window and a Yule Lad (jólasveinarnir or jólasveinar in Icelandic) will come to visit, leaving gifts for the good children and rotten potatoes for the bad children. The Yule Lads seem to like to get into trouble and their names suggest their areas of mischievous expertise; Stekkjastaur (Sheep-Cote Clod), Giljagaur (Gully Gawk), Stúfur (Stubby), Þvörusleikir (Spoon-Licker), Pottaskefill (Pot-Scraper), Askasleikir (Bowl-Licker), Hurðaskellir (Door-Slammer), Skyrgámur (Skyr-Gobbler), Bjúgnakrækir (Sausage-Swiper), Gluggagægir (Window-Peeper), Gáttaþefur (Doorway-Sniffer), Ketkrókur (Meat-Hook) and Kertasníkir (Candle-Stealer).
In Australia, Christmas celebrations fall right in the middle of some of the hottest weather during the entire year. Due to the extreme heatwave, the Christmas season is closely associated with brush fires and electrical storms. These conditions do not keep people from celebrating the most wonderful time of the year, a family in Canberra recently broke the world record by stringing up over 31 miles of Christmas lights. Meals consist of roasted turkey, barbeque, prawns, lobster, steamed pudding, gingerbread and plum pudding which is served with ice cream to help combat the heat. Up to 40,000 visit Bondi Beach in Sydney to hang out celebrate and barbeque on the beach for Christmastime and there is a large Christmas festival and outdoor concert that has been held on Christmas Eve in Melbourne for the past 76 years. When Santa arrives in Australia he ditches his reindeer for kangaroos or “six white boomers” (a popular Australian Christmas song) and changes his clothes as his are too hot for Australian weather.
Regardless of where you’re from or the customs and culture you observe, Christmas is a time to give, share and rejoice in the love that our friends and family provide. Learning about the fascinating nuances and Christmas traditions held around the world can allow you to understand just why this is truly the most wonderful time of the year.
Merry Christmas from our family at Niki’s Int’l Ltd. to yours!
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