Christmas Traditions!
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The Christmas season is celebrated in different ways around the world,
varying by country and region.

Advent Calendar: "An Advent calendar is a special calendar which is used to count or celebrate the days of Advent in anticipation of Christmas. Some calendars are strictly religious, whereas others are secular in content.

Today, most advent calendars are made for children. Many take the form of a large rectangular card with many "windows", one of which is opened every day during Advent. In less elaborate calendars, each window opens to reveal an image, a poem, or part of a story such as the Nativity story itself. More elaborate Advent calendars have a small gift concealed in each window, such as a toy or a chocolate item.

Advent Candle: "An Advent candle is a candle marked with the days of December up to Christmas Eve. It is typically used in a household rather than a church setting: each day in December the candle is burnt down a little more, to the mark for the day, to show the passing of the days leading up to Christmas. As with an advent calendar, it does not strictly mark the days of Advent, which typically begins a few days before 1st December, but the calendar date. Some households will make a Christmas decoration out of sprigs of evergreen and Christmas ornaments, with the candle at its centre; others will simply put it in a candlestick. It is usually burned at the family evening meal each day."

Advent Wreath: "The Advent wreath is a Christian tradition that symbolizes the passage of the four weeks of Advent in the liturgical calendar of the Western church. It is usually a horizontal evergreen wreath with four or five candles. Beginning with the First Sunday of Advent, the lighting of a candle can be accompanied by a Bible reading and prayers. An additional candle is lit during each subsequent week until, by the last Sunday before Christmas, all four candles are lit. Some Advent wreaths include a fifth, "Christ" candle which can be lit at Christmas. The custom is observed both in family settings and at public church services."

Almond Present: "An almond present (Danish and Norwegian: mandelgave, Swedish: mandelgåva) is a small present traditionally given in some Nordic countries to the person who gets the whole almond put in the rice pudding served for Christmas.   The tradition may originate from the somewhat similar king cake tradition on Epiphany, observed in e.g. France.'" R

Angel Chimes: "Angel chimes also known as angel-abra are a form of Christmas decoration popular in Europe and North America. Apparently from the same origins as the Christmas pyramid, which functions on the same principle. They differ from these, primarily, in being mass-produced from metal and featuring bell-ringing angels, whereas Christmas pyramids are usually crafted from wood and don't necessarily have bells."

"Angel chimes have candle holders at the base which provide heat which turns a turbine at the top, which powers a series of trumpet-holding angel figures which "fly" around in a circle, striking bells beneath them. Aside from this, they usually have other decorative motifs, such as the Star of Bethlehem or a creche."

Ashen Faggot: "The ashen faggot (sometimes called ashton fagot) is an old English Christmas tradition from Devon and Somerset, similar to that of the Yule log and related to the wassail tradition. The wassail party passes around a bundle of ash sticks, twigs or branches—the ashen faggot—bound with green ash withies, which is then placed onto the fire. As each binding bursts, the watchers toast it with a drink. Some traditions had the unmarried women each choosing a withy, and the first one whose tie snapped would be married the next year."

"When the bindings have all burst and the bundle has fallen loose, each person who plans to host the festivities next year takes one of the half-burned ash sticks and saves it until the following Christmas, when it will go in the centre of their own ashen faggot. The tradition endures (or has been resurrected) in many places; according to an article in the Winter 2005 issue of Devon Talk, the Harbour Inn in Axmouth annually builds an ashen faggot six feet high and three feet wide for their huge pub fireplace."

"Some traditions held that not burning the ashen faggot in your house brought bad luck, or that having an ashen faggot in the house kept the Devil away. Ash was likely chosen because the ash tree has a long pedigree of magical associations: perhaps the most important is the Yggdrasil of Norse mythology, also known as the World Ash Tree." R

Badnjak: "The badnjak (Cyrillic: бадњак, Serbian pronunciation: [ˈbadɲaːk]), also called veseljak (весељак, [ʋɛˈsɛʎaːk], literally "jovial one" in Serbian), is a log brought into the house and placed on the fire on the evening of Christmas Eve,(I) a central tradition in Serbian Christmas celebrations. The tree from which the badnjak is cut, preferably a young and straight oak, is ceremonially felled early on the morning of Christmas Eve. The felling, preparation, bringing in, and laying on the fire, are surrounded by elaborate rituals, with many regional variations. The burning of the log is accompanied by prayers that the coming year brings food, happiness, love, luck, and riches. The badnjak is treated as a person, to whom salutations and sacrifices such as grain, wine, and honey are offered. The log burns on throughout Christmas Day. The first visitor on Christmas Day strikes the log with a poker or a branch to make sparks fly, while requesting that the family's happiness and prosperity be as abundant as the sparks." R

Boars Head Feast: "The Boar's Head Feast is probably the oldest continuing festival of the Christmas season. This pageant is rooted in ancient times when the boar was sovereign of the forest. A ferocious beast, and menace to humans, it was hunted as a public enemy. At Roman feasts, boar was the first dish served. Roasted boar was a staple of medieval banquets. As Christian beliefs overtook pagan customs in Europe, the presentation of a boar's head at Christmas came to symbolize the triumph of the Christ Child over sin."

"From the beginning, certain traditions have shaped the Boar's Head Feast. Every aspect must be authentic to the 14th century. A church service must be always be directly involved. The feast usually takes place during the Twelve Days of Christmas. The food in the ceremony must be homemade, this includes mince pie and plum pudding. If a boar cannot be used a hog's head is dressed to represent the boar. It is roasted and garnished, but not eaten."

"Adaptation is also a part of the tradition. At first, following the English custom, there were only men and boys involved. Today women join in the ceremony, dressed in historical costumes of the 14th century. In England, during the Second World War, the feast was reduced to a sermon and traditional Christmas carols. This was changed, though, during the early 1950s."


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Resources:  This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses some material from Wikipedia/article christmastraditions / and other related pages. Top photo: homestead stock
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