The fes­tive sea­son around the world

We take a fly­ing trip around the planet to look at dif­fer­ent Christ­mas cus­toms

YOURS (UK) - - Contents - By Katharine Woot­ton

A time for feast­ing

In Ukraine Christ­mas Day is cel­e­brated on Jan­uary 7, in line with the old Ju­lian cal­en­dar of church fes­ti­vals. The main Christ­mas meal, called ‘Svi­ata Vecheria’ (or Holy Sup­per) is eaten on Christ­mas Eve and has 12 dishes which rep­re­sent the 12 dis­ci­ples. The feast­ing only starts once the youngest child has seen the first evening star ap­pear.

South Africa is per­haps home to the most un­usual fes­tive din­ner – as some tuck into deep-fried cater­pil­lars of Em­peror Moths. In Japan, the sea­son is known as a time to spread hap­pi­ness and typ­i­cally fried chicken is the Christ­mas Day lunch and a trip to KFC.

Deck the halls

If you think Novem­ber is too early to put up the Christ­mas dec­o­ra­tions, in the Philip­pines they start cel­e­brat­ing from Septem­ber on­wards with ex­trav­a­gant dé­cor and gi­ant lanterns in ev­ery colour!

In Poland, they dec­o­rate their trees with spi­der webs be­cause, ac­cord­ing to leg­end, a spi­der wove a blan­ket for baby Je­sus. Even in In­dia where only two per cent of the pop­u­la­tion cel­e­brate Christ­mas, most house­holds – in­clud­ing those of non­be­liev­ers – twin­kle with oil lamps on their court­yard or roof.

Sea­sonal su­per­sti­tions

We used to leave mince pies and a car­rot out for Fa­ther Christ­mas and Ru­dolph the rein­deer, but in Nor­way chil­dren leave out por­ridge for Jul Nisse, a cheeky sprite who is said to guard farm an­i­mals and play tricks on chil­dren if they don’t leave him some tasty hot oats.

In Ger­many, in­stead of stock­ings, chil­dren leave shoes out­side their front door, which Fa­ther Christ­mas – or Niko­laus – will leave pre­sents in if they’ve been good. But if they’ve been naughty his ser­vant, Knecht Ruprecht, will just leave them twigs!

And in Greece fam­i­lies hang sausages or sweet­meats in the chim­ney to ap­pease gob­lins, said to plays tricks on peo­ple from De­cem­ber 25 to Jan­uary 6.

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