To embrace your family’s ethnic background try to incorporate a few traditional ethnic Christmas customs. Here are some additional customs.
For the ‘land down under’ - Australia, Christmas comes in the middle of their summer weather. Having family picnics is a popular method to celebrate Christmas. A favorite decoration is the native red-flowered leaves on the Christmas Bushes.
The small country of Switzerland actually has a blend of French, German and Italian ethnic backgrounds. So the Swiss tend to select the favorite aspects of the different customs to celebrate Christmas. A big tradition in Switzerland is the ringing of bells throughout the town and countryside, especially on Christmas Eve. A popular food treat at home would be the ‘ringli’ or huge doughnut that is serviced with hot chocolate.
A Christmas tree in Finland is set up on Christmas Eve. They traditionally use candies, apples, cotton and tinsel to decorate the tree. A large feast is prepared and eaten in each home about 6 p.m. Just before or after dinner is when the gifts are handed out. Across Finland the saying ‘Merry Yule’ is used to express good wishes.
The Christmas season begins eight days before Christmas in Italy. Children will dress as shepherds and sing songs as they visit homes in the neighborhood. At each house they are given money. The big day for gifts for children is Epiphany, January 6th.
For Sweden, at dawn on December 13th, the youngest daughter from each family wears a white robe with a red sash. Then she wears a crown of evergreens with tall-lighted candles attached to it. The daughter must then awake her parents, and serve them coffee and Lucia buns. Her siblings accompany her. The boys will be dressed as star, each in long white shirts and pointed hats. Christmas Eve dinner is called ‘Swedish Julafton’ or a large buffet with all types of foods; especially codfish.
It is a festive time in Spain during the Christmas season. There are parties and dances everywhere, even in the streets. In Spain Christmas Eve is called ‘Nochebuena’ or Good Night. With a special Nativity display in every home there is much feasting on a traditional treat of ‘turro’ which is almond candy. The feast of Epiphany is the big day for gifts.
On Christmas Eve in Denmark a special rice pudding called Grod is prepared for the family members. Within the pudding is a special almond. Whoever gets the almond also received a prize. The evening meal will include stuffed goose, red cabbage, fried pastries and browned potatoes. It is Christmas Eve when the tree is first seen by the whole family and lit.
There are many more ethnic customs from every land when it comes to Christmas. Identify your family’s ethnic background and learn what you can sprinkle in your own customs to make the family learn and appreciate their heritage.