Christmas Time

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Filip Fong
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Posts: 1661
Christmas Time -
23 December 2007, at 16:51

I just wonder when and how you celebrate christmas where you live? :)

Would be nice to know! Lot's of differnt celebrations around the globe!

It's about music! Not one music style is better than the other, not one music style is more truly than the other. The whole thing is based on respect. It's all music, music never separates people!
Filip Fong
204 forum
Posts: 1661
# Re: Christmas Time - 23 December 2007, at 16:59
Christmas in Norway 
also including New Year's Eve   
Christmas in Norway is associated with white snow, candles, Santa Claus, decorations in red, green and gold, and the smell of homemade cookies.   

Christmas is definitely the number one family holiday in Norway. Half the 24th, the 25th, 26th and half of the 31st are national holidays in Norway. The schools have a lot longer vacation, usually lasting two weeks. 

Santa Claus in Norway 
... is called “Julenissen” and looks very much like the Santas found elsewhere in the world. However, there exists another character whose name ends with “nisse” in the Norwegian folklore exists - a peculiar figure named the “Fjøsnisse” (the barn “nisse”). For a long time, when most Norwegians were farmers, this “Nisse” was believed to be a secret helper in the barn. If the family on the farm was nice to him and left him a bowl of porridge every Christmas eve, he would be kind to them and help them the next year. If they didn’t, they could expect accidents, sick animals and mysterious noises. 

This superstition has been mixed with the commercial Santa Claus, leaving the Norwegians with one name covering both figures and the mutations in between them - “Nissen”. Today one may often see Christmas displays where there is one head-Santa (Julenissen) surrounded by many other Santas (versions of fjøsnisser), or even entire Santa families! 
However, the commercial, Coca-Cola made Santa Claus dominates the displays in the big shopping malls. 

Drøbak, a city in eastern Norway claims to be Santa’s hometown. Drøbak shares this claim with Nuuk (Greenland), Reykjavik (Iceland), Mora (Sweden), and Rovaniemi (Finland). There are special Santa Claus post offices and/or Santa workshops in all of these towns. Oh, well, maybe Santa lives in the desolate arctic areas on the North pole! 

Advent :   
In December every year in Bergen, the inhabitants are invited to participate in the making of the world's biggest gingerbread city. Schools, kindergartens, anyone who wants to can make a gingerbread house and bring it to "Galleriet", a local shopping mall. All the gingerhouses, gingerboats, gingerschools, gingerpeople, and gingerconstructions are put on display in the top floor, together making up the largest gingerbread city. 
Santa Claus and some of his helpers are present every day. 
Visiting and admiring the city is possible from mid-December. Admission is free. 

The Norwegian children have Advent calendars with 24 doors. They open one door in the calendar each day from the December 1st to 24th. The 24th, Christmas Eve, is the day the Norwegians open their presents and have their big Christmas meal. 

Behind each door in the Advent calendar is a small chocolate, or if it’s a homemade calendar, something else, like a pencil or other type of little gift. 

The TV station NRK has since late 70s sent an advent series from December 1st to 24th. The later years the station has produced the series itself, and these series are said to be some of the more expensive productions. There is also made a special advent calendar to the advent series. Each episode is 30 minutes long. The religious message is toned down to make it more including - one doesn’t have to be Christian to watch and enjoy the show. 

December 13 : “Luciadagen” - Day of St. Lucy:   
This is a Swedish tradition which the Norwegians adopted in the 1950s. The day is mostly celebrated in kindergartens and schools. The children dress up in long, white costumes and one or more girls have a “crown” on her head. This crown is traditionally decorated with candles, but since this is pretty dangerous, electric, candle-shaped lights have become normal to use instead of the real thing. 

The children line up and walk in a sort of procession, girl with the crown in front. As they walk they sing the “Lucia sangen” - the song of St. Lucy. They also hand out 
“lussekatter” - very yellow buns with raisins - which they have made the day before. 

Christmas preparations...   
The shops start putting up their Christmas decoration in mid November, but the big rush to buy presents doesn’t start until mid-December. 

...At home 
As the time gets closer to Christmas Eve, many families bake Christmas cookies. The tradition is that there must be at least seven different kinds of Christmas cookies on the table on Christmas Eve. 

Making marzipan or marzipan figures dipped in melted chocolate is also a popular way to prepare the holiday season. 

...In schools   
Many schools arrange Christmas workshops some days before the holidays start. This kind of activity is found in grades 1-7 almost without exception, but it can be found in grade 8-10 if the students ask specifically for it and the teachers have time for a day of making Christmas cards and decorations (presents?). 

Before the school’s Christmas vacation starts, the pupils in grade 2/3 - 7 perform a play for their parents. The play is a version of the Christmas Gospel. The show also includes some Christmas carols, and usually end with everyone being served cookies. 

The last or the second last day before the vacation starts, the church holds a special Christmas service for each school. The subject of the priest’s preaching is usually something more connected to the children’s everyday life and incidents at school than the religion itself. The older students have an active part in the service too, reading the Christmas gospel aloud, lightening candles, and playing musical instruments. 

December 23rd : “Lille julaften”   
- “Little Christmas Eve” 
Most Norwegians decorate their Christmas tree in the evening of Dec. 23. The decorating of the house and the tree is done by the entire family. 

There is a start in the top of the tree, and electric candles-shaped lights on the branches. Tinsel, hearts, angels, nisser and sometimes flags are a part of the tree decoration. Heart shaped christmas baskets made of colored, glossy paper is a decoration which s widely used. 
If you want to learn how to make this kind of basket, click here. 

December 24th : Christmas Eve 
When the children wake up (usually very early), they open the last door in their advent calendar. In many, many, many families the children then wait for the Christmas specials on TV to begin. The Christmas specials consist of a bunch of cartoons (in the traditional NRK special there is a lot of Disney’s Christmas Cards), some dramaseries for youngsters and a movie for the whole family. 

Many families go to church this day at 3 o’clock. A lot of people also use this day to lay flowers on the graves of their loved ones. 

Christmas dinner
While the kids are busy watching television, the parents prepare the Christmas meal in peace and quiet. The Christmas dinner varies throughout the country: 

The Christmas dinner is like a family reunion. The grandparents, parents, children (also if they are grown-ups) and sometimes aunts and uncles gather around the table. 

In western and Northern Norway, “Pinnekjøtt” (salted and steam boiled ribs from lamb) is served with potatoes . 
In the Eastern parts of Norway pork extremely is common, while in other areas “lutefisk” (fish steeped in lye!) is the main dish. These last years more and more have started having turkey for Christmas. 

After dinner
Before the presents can be opened, the family walks around the Christmas tree holding hands and singing carols. Afterwards, they gather around the table where cookies and coffee have been put, and may as soon as they want to start opening their presents. 

The way the gifts are distributed varies from family to family : 
Many families put the presents under branches of the tree before the dinner starts. When the caroling is done, the gifts are handed out, one by one, and opened so everyone can see what was inside (Each present is marked with a little tag saying "To:", "From:" and "Merry Christmas";)

In other families, especially where there are small children, the father, grandfather or an uncle excuses himself after the meal and shortly after re-enters dressed as Santa Claus. He’ll bring a bag of gifts, deliver them, get a cookie, then leave for so to re-enter as father/grandfather/uncle (“Oh, Daddy, you just missed Santa!! You’re never here when Santa arrives...”). 

December 25th
Is a quiet day spent mostly with the family. Some go to church. Many go to family Christmas parties. 

December 26th
More Christmas parties, but now with friends. At the Christmas parties, games including singing and dancing are often played - or at least they used to be, the tradition has gradually started to disappear. 

December 31 : New Year’s Eve 
At 5 o’clock the children go outside dressed in wacky costumes. They go from door to door singing carols and are rewarded with candy, cookies or oranges. In a way, it resembles a mixture of trick & treating and caroling. In some parts of Norway, the children don’t do this on New Year’s Eve but in the afternoons between the 27th and the 30th. The tradition is called to go "Nyttårsbukk". 

The fireworks start some hours before midnight, around 9pm and from it just builds up. Generally everyone can set off fireworks, but in certain areas where the houses are very close or made of wood, fireworks are restricted or illegal (for obvious reasons). December is the month when most fires occur in Norway, due to fireworks and a large number of knocked-over candles. 

January 6
The 13th day of Christmas - the day for taking down the decorations and getting rid of the tree if it hasn’t been done yet. 

“Christmas tree parties” - “Juletrefester” 
Many firms, companies, organizations and other institutions throw parties for the children of their employees (or members) in Early January. These parties are called “Christmas tree parties”, and even though it’s already past New Year, the theme of the party is always Christmas. The children are served hot-dogs and cookies, sing Christmas carols, play games, and form large circles and walk around a giant Christmas tree. Afterwards, Santa arrives with presents and candy to everyone.
It's about music! Not one music style is better than the other, not one music style is more truly than the other. The whole thing is based on respect. It's all music, music never separates people!
# Re: Christmas Time - 23 December 2007, at 17:18
Christmas in Macedonia:

The Christmas celebration begins on January 5th, the evening, known as "kolede". Children go from door to door singing Christmas carols and receiving fruits, nuts and sweets from the people. Later in the evening, the elderly gather around a fire outside, and engage in a conversation about the past year, and about the year to come. The following evening is the Christmas Eve, when traditional oak log (badnik) is brought to the family hearth. This log is cut by the male head of the household and the older son, while the table is being set for the Christmas Eve Fast supper (Posna Vechera). The log is cut into three pieces, representing the Holy Trinity, and each piece is brought into the house by the father. A son, or some other member of the family receives each piece and places it on the fire. As this is done, the son and the father exchange a greeting: "Good evening and happy Christmas Eve" (Dobra Vecher i Vesel badnik). While the log is being placed on the fire, the mother and the grandmother gather the children together and, from the outside, enter into the room where the supper is to be served. Each person carries a bundle of straw and the mother leads the children in spreading around the room the straw on the floor. The house is decorated with oak branches with their leaves on, representing the wish of the family for long and healthy life, "with health strong as oak, and with a life log as that of the oak."

Then the fasting supper is served on the same table that the Christmas candle is burning. The fasting supper is composed of strict vegeterian recipes, such as cooked vegetables, nuts, bread (pogacha) and dried fruits. In the bread, a coin is being put while before it was baked. The traditional belief is that whoever gets the coin in his/her piece, will have a particularly successfull year to look forward to. The Christmas candle is then lit, and everyone sings a Christmas hymn. Very early Christmas day, people attend the first morning church service. After the family returns from church, the first guest arrives. This is usually a man who is a dear friend of the family, and he is especially honored during the celebration. When he first arrives he goes to see the yule log fire. He is then met by the host,who kisses him and gives him this special greeting: "CHRIST IS BORN" (Hristos se rodi). The guest replies: "INDEED, HE IS BORN" (Vistina Se Rodi). These greetings are exchanged throughout the three days or Christmas. After the exchange or the greetings, the guest shakes the burning oak log and when the sparks fly up, he recites his best wishes for the family. He usually does this in rhyme, mentioning the Special desires of the family.
The Christmas dinner usually consists of roast suckling pig and other festive dishes; the very festive meal begins and the celebration continues for three days.
Filip Fong
204 forum
Posts: 1661
# Re: Christmas Time - 23 December 2007, at 17:34
Had to edit my post after your excelent presentation KiKSU! ;)
It's about music! Not one music style is better than the other, not one music style is more truly than the other. The whole thing is based on respect. It's all music, music never separates people!
# Re: Christmas Time - 23 December 2007, at 17:49
Very interesting celebration of Christmas in Norway Filip. It's amazing how different cultures have different ways of celebrating Christmas. Now I'm looking forward to receiving my Christmas presents. :) Already got one, 2 remaining.
TrancePodium Staff
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Posts: 3256
# Re: Christmas Time - 26 December 2007, at 15:16
Christmas, oh wait...  Holidays in the united States are celebrated of course by the coming of Santa Claus.  Everyone spends most of their pre time shopping in the malls and outlets right up untill that last moment on Dec 24th.  On Christmas day Everyone opens their presents, celebrates with family and loved ones until the day is over, then promptly returns to work the day after.  Most of the business and homes will have thier decorations down by the following weekend, or in some cases the next day.  Its quite sad to see trees at the curb the day after Christmas.  (I have already seen one like this where I live.... :( )  The day after Christmas is a hell for those that work in retail, as its the time when all the returns happen and the malls, for one last time, are packed to the hilt.  This is how alot of Americans seem to spend the Holidays. 

My family, we do it a bit different.

We put up opur Christmas decorations (Yes its still Christmas in our household.) around the weekend following Thanksgiving (the third thursday in November).  We get out little bit of shopping done normally before December even hits.  I dont want to be near a Mall for that whole month  lol.  On Christmas eve, we have family over, have a nice dinner, with lots of good deserts, sit down afterwards and either watch a Christmas movie, or just talk and laugh for a while.  We will open one gift each, that is our tradition. 

On Christmas day we will have our nice breakfast, then exchange our gifts.  After that its head over to moms house for more of the family, a big plate of Lasanga and Italian desserts, and just spending quality time with the whole family.  (everyone gathers at my moms house so its really nice.)

Unfortunately, the day after I spend ,as well as most other Americans, at work.  (Tonight i work from 13:oo to 21:30

Me and my wife dont take down our Christmas decoration though untill about 2 weeks after New Years.