4 CHRISTMAS IN UKIn the UK (or Great Britain), families often celebrate Christmas together, so they can watch each other open their presents!Most families have a Christmas Tree in their house for Christmas. The decorating of the tree is usually a family occasion, with everyone helping.Holly, and Mistletoe are also sometimes used to decorate homes or other buildings.
5 CHRISTMAS IN FRANCEIn France, a Nativity crib is often used to help decorate the house. French cribs have clay figures in them, not wooden ones. During December, some towns and cities such as Marseilles have fairs that sell Nativity figures.
6 CHRISTMAS IN SPAINNew Year's Eve is called 'Nochevieja' or 'The Old Night' in Spain and one special tradition is that you eat 12 grapes with the 12 strokes of the clock at Midnight! Each grape represents a month of the coming year, so if you eat the twelve grapes, you are said to be lucky in the new year.
7 CHRISTMAS IN ITALYOne of the most important ways of celebrating Christmas in Italy is the Nativity crib scene .One old Italian custom is that children go out Carol singing and playing songs on shepherds pipes, wearing shepherds sandals and hats.
8 CHRISTMAS IN FINLANDFinnish people believe that Santa Claus or Father Christmas lives in the north part of Finland called Korvatunturi (or Lapland), north of the Arctic Circle. People from all over the world send letters to Santa Claus in Finland. There is a big tourist theme park called 'Christmas Land' in the north of Finland, near to where they say that Father Christmas lives .
9 CHRISTMAS IN DENMARKIn Denmark most people go to a Church Service on Christmas Eve about 4.00pm to hear the Christmas Story. When they get home the main Christmas meal is eaten between 6.00pm and 8.00pm. It's served on a beautifully decorated table. Most people, after dinner, dance around the Christmas Tree before they open their presents.Most families have a 'ris á la mande' (a special kind of rice pudding, made of milk, rice, vanilla, almonds and whipped cream) for dessert. All but one of the almonds are chopped into pieces. The person who finds the whole almond gets a present.
10 CHRISTMAS IN GERMANYA big part of the Christmas celebrations in Germany is Advent. Several different types of Advent calendars are used in German homes. As well as the traditional one made of card that is used in many countries, there are ones made out of a wreath of Fir tree branches with 24 decorated boxes or bags hanging from it. Each box or bag has a little present in it.Germany is well known for its Christmas Markets where all sorts of Christmas foods and decorations are sold.
11 CHRISTMAS IN THE NETHERLANDS For most children in Holland, the most important day during the Christmas Celebrations is 5th December, when Sinterklaas (St. Nicholas) brings them their presents!St. Nicholas' day is on the 6th December, but in Holland, the major celebrations are held on the 5th December.On December, 5th children leave clogs or shoes out to be filled with presents.
12 CHRISTMAS IN POLANDPoland is a largely catholic country and Christmas Eve is a very important and busy day. Traditionally it's a day of fasting and abstinence (not eating anything) and meat is not normally allowed to be eaten in any form. A special Christmas Eve meal called Wigilia (pronounced vee-GHEE-lee-uh) is eaten after the first star has been seen in the sky. It's also all meat free and might consist of Barszcz (beetroot soup), Uszka (mushroom ravioli), Pierogi (Pasta dumplings filled with either cheese and potato or cabbage and mushroom) and fish dishes (normally carp and herrings).
13 CHRISTMAS IN ROMANIAThe Christmas celebrations really begin on Christmas Eve, 24th, when it's time to decorate the Christmas Tree. This is done in the evening of Christmas Eve. In Romanian, Christmas Eve is called 'Ajunul Craciunului'.Carol singing (known as 'Colindatul') is also a very popular part of Christmas in Romania. On Christmas Eve children go out carol singing from house to house performing to the adults in the houses. They normally dance as well. The children get sweets, fruit, traditional cakes called 'cozonaci' and sometimes money for singing well. Adults go carol singing on Christmas Day evening and night.
14 CHRISTMAS IN LITHUANIA At Christmas time in Lithuania it is very cold, normally with snow and ice on the ground.Straw is a traditional decoration. Is it normally spread on the table top and then covered with a clean, white tablecloth. The table is then decorated with candles and small branches or twigs from a fir tree. The straw reminds people of the baby Jesus lying in a manger. A superstition says that if you pull a piece of straw from under the tablecloth and it's long, you will have a long life; but if it's short you will have a short life; and a thick straw means a rich and happy life!
15 CHRISTMAS IN GREECE1st January, New Years Day, is St Vasilis's Day who is also known as St Basil the Great.People in Greece also celebrate Epiphany on the 6th January. In the Greek Orthodox Church, Epiphany celebrates Jesus's baptism when he was a man. It's also known as 'The Blessing of the Waters'. There are many events throughout the country where young men dive into really cold lakes, rivers and the sea to try to be first to get a cross which has been blessed by a priest and thrown into the water. Whoever gets the cross first is meant to have good luck during the coming year. Epiphany festivals also include blessings of boats & ships, music, dancing and lots of food
16 CHRISTMAS IN CROATIAStraw, symbolic of Christ's birth in a stable, plays a significent role in the traditions in some regions. On Christmas Eve, straw is scattered on the floor and placed under the tablecloth for the Christmas Eve meal.While the food varies in regions, you can always count on an extravagant array of desserts with countless cakes and cookies.
17 CHRISTMAS IN ESTONIAEach year on December 24 the President of Estonia declares Christmas Peace and attends a Christmas service. Declaring a Christmas Peace is a 350-year-old tradition in Estonia. The tradition began in the seventeenth century by the order of Queen Kristina of Sweden.