Christmas and New Year Around the World.
Although Christmas around the world is usually celebrated in roughly the same way, important details change country to country. While you are settling round the fire (or in the pub) on Christmas Eve in the UK, others will be tucking into their Christmas meal and have already opened their presents!
Here our international team members describe Christmas…
“In Colombia, Christmas celebrations and preparations start on the evening of the 7th December which is known as 'Día de las Velitas' or 'Day of the little Candles'. Houses and streets are decorated with candles, lanterns and lots of lights. There are also big firework displays and music to dance to and foods like 'buñuelos' and 'empanadas'.
The main Christmas meal is eaten on Christmas Eve night and it's called 'Cena de Navidad'.
The dishes often include 'lechona' (pork stuffed with rice and peas), ham, turkey or a chicken soup called 'Ajiaco Bogotano'. Other popular foods around Christmas are 'Buñuelos' (cheesy fritters), ‘arepas’ (a thick dish made from corn) and 'hojuelas' (a fried pastry with sugar and jam). A very popular Christmas dessert is 'Natilla' which is a set custard.
As the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve it is traditional in Colombia (and most other Spanish countries) to eat one grape per chime, called ‘Las doce uvas de la suerte’. So 12 grapes in all – and make a wish each time you eat a grape!”
Neil, our resident Nederlandophile
“St. Nicholas' Day is on the 6th December and in The Netherlands, the major celebrations are held on the 5th December, St. Nicholas' Eve. For most children in The Netherlands, this is the most important day as it is when ‘Sinterklaas’ (St. Nicholas) brings them their presents!
Christmas Day itself is a much quieter day in The Netherlands, with a Church Service and family meal. Christmas Day is known as 'Eerste Kerstdag' (first Christmas day) and the day after Christmas is called 'Tweede Kerstdag' (second Christmas day).”
“In Hungary, Christmas Eve is very important and is called 'szenteste' which means Holy Evening. People spend the evening with their family and decorate the Christmas Tree.
The main Christmas meal, which is also eaten on Christmas Eve, consists of fish (often fish soup called 'halászlé' which is made with carp or other freshwater fish), stuffed cabbage (the leaves are stuffed with rice, mince pork, onion, garlic and other herbs) and a special kind of poppy or walnut bread/cake called 'beigli' is a popular dessert.
Traditionally in Hungary eating pork on New Year's Day brings you luck (and eating chicken brings you bad luck). Lentils symbolize wealth so lentil soup is another must have dish on New Year's Day. After a night of partying on New Year's Eve, ‘korhelyleves’, a soup with cabbage, sausage and sour cream, is good for hangovers.”
“Christmas Eve is known as ‘Wigilia’ (pronounced vee-GHEE-lee-uh). Traditionally, the house is cleaned and everyone wears their best festive clothes. The main Christmas meal is eaten in the evening and is called "Kolacja wigilijna" (Christmas Eve supper). On the table there are 12 dishes - they are meant to give you good luck for the next 12 months.
New Year's Eve is known as ‘Sylwester’ because it falls on the feast day of St. Sylvester. Poles party hearty with good food and drink.”
“The main Christmas meal, called Réveillon, is eaten on Christmas Eve. However the Christmas Day meal can also hold importance, depending on family tradition.
Dishes might include roast turkey with chestnuts or roast goose, oysters, foie gras, lobster, venison and LOTS of cheeses. For dessert, a chocolate sponge cake log called a bûche de Noël is normally eaten.
Epiphany, called Fête des Rois in French, is also celebrated in France on January 6th. A flat Almond cake is eaten called 'Galette des Rois'. The cake has a toy crown inside (called fève) and is decorated on top with a gold paper crown.”