Christmas Traditions, page 4!
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The Christmas season is celebrated in different ways around the world,
varying by country and region.

Santa Claus: "Santa Claus, also known as Saint Nicholas, Father Christmas, Kris Kringle or simply "Santa", is a legendary figure who, in many Western cultures, brings gifts to the homes of the good children during the late evening and overnight hours of Christmas Eve, December 24[1] or on his Feast Day, December 6 (Saint Nicholas Day). The legend may have part of its basis in hagiographical tales concerning the historical figure of gift giver Saint Nicholas.

While Saint Nicholas was originally portrayed wearing bishop's robes, today Santa Claus is generally depicted as a plump, jolly, white-bearded man wearing a red coat with white collar and cuffs, white-cuffed red trousers, and black leather belt and boots."  R

Santa's Workshop: "Santa's Workshop or Santa's Grotto, is the workshop where Santa Claus makes the toys and presents given out at Christmas. In Santa Claus mythology, the workshop is a sprawling complex located at the North Pole. In addition to housing the factory where toys are either manufactured or distributed by the elves, the complex also houses the residence of Santa Claus, his wife, and all of the reindeer. An amusement park in Santa Claus, IN, named Santa's Candy Castle emulates the traditional depiction of this workshop.

In the 20th century it became common during December in large shops or department stores to have a "cavern" in which an actor dressed up as Santa Claus to give gifts to children. Grottos can be large-walk through fantasy cavern-like areas incorporating animatronic characters such as elfs and pantomime characters. This tradition started in Britain in 1879 and then extended in the 1890s to Austrialian and American department stores seeking to attract customers." R

SantaCon: "SantaCon is a mass gathering of people dressed in their various interpretations of Santa Claus costumes and performing publicly on streets and in bars in cities around the world. The focus is on spontaneity, creativity, and the improvisational nature of human interaction while having a good time and spreading cheer and goodwill to all they come across."

"Sometimes known in the United States as Naughty Santas, Cheapsuit Santas, Santarchy, Santa Rampage, the Red Menace and Santapalooza, SantaCon events are noted for cheerfully bawdy and harmless behavior, including the singing of naughty Christmas carols, and the giving of small gifts and free hugs to random strangers. In Japan there is more of the "doing good" principle and they have contributed to the community through such activities as Santa litter-picking outings. Some participants see SantaCon as a postmodern revival of Saturnalia, while others see the event as a precursor of the flash mob. For others it is about spreading the real spirit of Christmas in the form of love, generosity, fun and celebration with ones fellows." R

Schwibboge : "A Schwibbogen is a decorative candle-holder from the Ore Mountains (Erzgebirge) region of Saxony, Germany.  The first metal Schwibbogen was made in 1740 by the blacksmith Teller in Johanngeorgenstadt, a town in the west of the mountain range. The next candle arches always consisted of black ore. There were made out of one single forged piece and could be painted. The number of candles varies with the size of the arc. The original one featured 11."

Christmas Seals: "Christmas Seals are labels placed on mail during the Christmas season to raise funds and awareness for charitable programs.They have become particularly associated with lung diseases such as tuberculosis, and with child welfare. Christmas seals are regarded as a form of cinderella stamp.  Origins: At the beginning of the 1900s, tuberculosis was a highly feared diseases, and its effect on children seemed particularly unjust and horrible. In 1903 , Einar Holbøll, a Danish postal clerk developed the idea of adding an extra charitable stamp on mailed holiday greetings during Christmas. The money raised could be used to help children sick with tuberculosis. The plan was approved by the Postmaster and the King of Denmark (Christian IX)."

"In 1904 the world’s first Christmas Seal was issued, bearing the likeness of the Danish Queen (Louise of Hesse-Kassel) and the word Julen (Christmas). Over 4 million were sold in the first year at DKK 0.02 per seal." R

Secret Santa: "Secret hot Santa is a Western holiday tradition in which members of a group are randomly assigned other members to whom they anonymously give a gift. Often practiced in workplaces, or amongst large families, participation in it is usually voluntary. It offers a way for many people to give and receive a gift at low cost to those involved."

"The ritual is known as Secret Santa in the United States, Canada, and Great Britain; Kris Kringle or Chris Kindle (Christkindl) in the Republic of Ireland and as either Secret Santa or Kris Kringle in Australia and New Zealand. All of these names derive from traditional Christmas gift-bringers: the US version is named after Santa Claus while Chris Kindle and Kris Kringle are corruptions of the original name of the German gift-bringer Christkindl, which means the 'Child Jesus', (in Britain the traditional gift-bringer is Father Christmas). The term Secret Santa can refer to the practice itself, or any of the people participating. In Germany and Austria this tradition is called Wichteln. In Brazil, it is called amigo secreto or amigo oculto (Secret Friend), while in Spanish it is called amigo invisible (Invisible Friend) in Spain and amigo secreto in most places of Latin America. Another term used specifically in southeastern Pennsylvania of the U.S. is Pollyanna." R

Snap-dragon Game:: "Snap-dragon (also known as Flap-dragon, Snapdragon, or Flapdragon) was a parlour game popular from about the 16th to 19th centuries. It was played during the winter, particularly on Christmas Eve. Brandy was heated and placed in a wide shallow bowl; raisins were placed in the brandy which was then set alight. Typically, lights were extinguished or dimmed to increase the eerie effect of the blue flames playing across the liquor. The aim of the game was to pluck the raisins out of the burning brandy and eat them, at the risk of being burnt. Samuel Johnson's Dictionary of the English Language (1755) describes it as "a play in which they catch raisins out of burning brandy and, extinguishing them by closing the mouth, eat them". According to an eighteenth-century article in Richard Steele's Tatler magazine, "the wantonness of the thing was to see each other look like a demon, as we burnt ourselves, and snatched out the fruit." Snap-dragon was played in England and the United States, but there is insufficient evidence of the practice in Scotland, or other countries." R

Snow Globe: "A snow globe is a transparent sphere usually made of glass enclosing a miniaturized scene of some sort, often together with a model of a landscape. The sphere also encloses the water in the globe; the water serves as the medium through which the "snow" falls. To activate the snow, the globe is physically shaken to churn up the white particles. The globe is then placed back in its position and the flakes fall down slowly through the water. Snow globes sometimes have a built-in music box that plays a Christmas carol."


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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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