Christmas Traditions, Page 3!
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The Christmas season is celebrated in different ways around the world,
varying by country and region.

Moravian Star: "A Moravian star (German: Herrnhuter Stern) is an illuminated piece of Advent or Christmas decoration popular in Germany and in places in America and Europe where there are Moravian congregations. The stars take their English name from the Moravian Church; in Germany, they are known as Herrnhut stars, named for the Moravian Mother Community in Saxony, Germany, where they were first commercially produced."

Père Noël: "Père Noël is a legendary gift-giver during Christmas in France and French-speaking areas, identified with Father Christmas or Santa Claus in English speaking territories."

"According to tradition, on Christmas Eve children leave their shoes by the fireplace filled with carrots and treats for Père Noël's donkey, Gui (French for "Mistletoe") before they go to bed. Père Noël takes the offerings and, if the child has been good, leaves presents in their place. Presents are traditionally small enough to fit in the shoes; candy, money or small toys."

"Père Noël is sometimes confused with another character. In Eastern France (Alsace and Lorraine regions) there is a parallel tradition to celebrate Saint Nicolas on December 6. He is followed by Le Père Fouettard, who exists also in Germany (Knecht Ruprecht), Austria (Krampus), Germany (Belsnickel) Holland and Belgium (Zwarte Piet). Le Père Fouettard is a sinister figure dressed in black who accompanies Saint Nicolas and whips children who have behaved badly."

"In Brazil, due to the influence of French culture in the 19th century, the name of Papai Noel was adopted, opposing for example the name of Pai Natal in Portugal. However he is dressed in the North American style."

Nativity Fast: "The Nativity Fast is a period abstinence and penance practiced by the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Eastern Catholic Churches, in preparation for the Nativity of Christ, (December 25). The fast is similar to the Western Advent, except that it runs for 40 days instead of four weeks. The fast is observed from November 15 to December 24, inclusively."

Sometimes the fast is called Philip's Fast (or the Philippian Fast), as it traditionally begins on the day following the Feast of St. Philip the Apostle (November 14). Some churches have abbreviated the fast to start on December 10, following the Feast of the Conception by Saint Anne of the Most Holy Theotokos." R

Nativity Scene: "A nativity scene, or crèche, is a depiction of the birth of Jesus as described in the gospels of Matthew and Luke. While the term "nativity scene" typically includes two dimensional depictions in film, painting, printmaking, and other media, the term popularly refers to static, three dimensional, commercial or folk art dioramas, or pantomimes called "living nativity scenes" in which real humans and animals participate. Nativity scenes exhibit (at the minimum) figures representing the infant Jesus, his mother Mary, and Mary's husband, Joseph. Some nativity scenes include other characters from the Biblical story such as shepherds, the Magi, and angels. The figures are usually displayed in a stable, cave, or other structure." R

Nutcrackers: "Nutcrackers in the form of wooden carvings of a soldier, knight, king, or other profession have existed since at least the 15th century. These nutcrackers portray a person with a large mouth which the operator opens by lifting a lever in the back of the figurine. Originally one could insert a nut in the big-toothed mouth, press down and thereby crack the nut. Modern nutcrackers in this style serve mostly for decoration, mainly at Christmas time. The ballet The Nutcracker derives its name from this festive holiday decoration."

Christmas Ornaments: "Christmas ornaments are decorations (usually made of glass, metal, wood or ceramics) that are used to festoon a Christmas tree. Ornaments take many different forms, from a simple round ball to highly artistic designs. Ornaments are almost always reused year after year, rather than purchased annually, and family collections often contain a combination of commercially produced ornaments and decorations created by family members. Such collections are often passed on and augmented from generation to generation.  Santa Claus is a commonly used figure. Candy canes, fruit, animals and snowflake imagery are also popular choices"

Christmas Pyramid: "A Christmas Pyramid is a Christmas decoration that has its roots in the Erzgebirge (Ore Mountains) of Germany but has become popular throughout the country. It is suggested that the Christmas pyramid is a predecessor of the Christmas tree; These pyramids themselves are not limited to Christmas: in the Erzgebirge existed a custom of dancing around the "St. John's Tree," "a pyramid decked with garlands and flowers," at the summer solstice."

It is a kind of Carousel with several levels some depicting Christian motifs, such as angels or manger scenes, and others with more secular motifs such as mountain-folk, forests, and other scenes from the everyday life of people in the Erzgebirge. The spinning motion of the pyramids is traditionally achieved with the help of candles whose rising heat spins a propeller above."

Rauchermann: "The Räuchermann (diminutive Räuchermännchen), erzgebirgisch Raachermannel is an invention of the toy makers of the Erzgebirge, used to burn down cone incense.

"The Räuchermann was first mentioned in 1830 and is nowadays a common component in the erzgebirgisch christmas tradition. For this, a cone incense is set on first, then put on the lower part of the bifid wood figurine. The upper part is hollowed out and put on top of the first part. The cone incense burns down inside of the hollow figurine, the smoke leaving the mouth hole of the Räuchermann. Before the Räuchermann was invented, cone incense was displayed and burnt down in the open."

"During christmas time, Räuchermänner are displayed together with Schwibbogen, miner figurine, angel, and christmas pyramid."

"Several kinds of figurines exist, traditionally displaying craftsmen of the region, such as forester, peddlers, miners, and soldiers. Today, they exist in many more forms, including the so-called edgesitters, which can be placed on the edge of the table, small sceneries of several Räuchermänner (such as a group playing Skat), and also female Räuchermänner, called Räucherfrauen. According to the guiness book of records, the largest Räuchermann of the world is in the Miniaturenpark Kleinwelka in Bautzen."

Regifting: "Regifting or regiving is the act of taking a gift that has been received and giving it to somebody else, sometimes in the guise of a new gift. One example of a formalization of this activity are the white elephant gift exchanges, in which items can be regifted from year to year."

"In the USA, "National Regifting Day" is defined as December 18th. In Canada, eBay marketed "National Re-gifting Week" as December 26th-30th (December 26 being Boxing Day, a time traditionally associated with gift-giving)."

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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: grandpaws visit christmas morn
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A gift is a voluntary act which does not require anything in return. Even though it involves possibly a social expectation of reciprocity, or a return in the form of prestige or power, a gift is meant to be free.
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