Tis the season to be jolly. I look at the snow of the white Christmas falling slowly that silent covers the fir trees, the roads, the fences, the dreams of children and of adults with blunt edges and corners covering the land with a thick white blanket. The fireplace warms us with a glass of almost empty red wine, accompanied by the crackle of continuously scalded larch resins.
I love the lights around the entire city, I love the environment that is created, I love the packaging of gifts, I love the bustle of the day before but, above all things, I love the Christmas songs. And then I love Christmas movies. It is a time of year that I enjoy so much. I always think that my place in the world, should have been in Lapland, immersed in 5 meters of snow, while being in the sled pulled by the reindeer.
With the noise of the branches that break under the weight of snow, the Northern Aurora on one side and Santa Claus on the other, I remember a strange meeting not long ago. It was winter then, just like now, and I walked in the evening among the forest of firs. I like to walk between a bow and the other when moonless darkness reigned. I move between white flakes in the night, with my face upturned to sniff the air. A glow attracted my attention. From the sky descended a strange faded light that swayed in the branches of white loads.
I followed it with my curious and restless eyes. The light approached the frozen ground and stopped at the height of my eyes, just a few meters away. It lit up the forest around there casting long shadows of logs on the snow. I did not know what to do. I exclaimed, astonished:
"But ... what"
"Who are you?" asked a voice in the light.
"But? Who are you?"
"A snowflake, do you not see?"
"But why are you talking?"
"Because I'm the father of the snow"
I did not know what to do. The magical atmosphere of the night forest rapt me, so instead of running away like hell, I asked:
"What are you doing here?"
I come to make a Christmas gift. There are rumors that say that Christmas has no meaning, that man has forgotten the essence of this magical moment, as the children eagerly awaited for the morning to unwrap the presents with trembling hands, as adults weary themselves to purchase lights and colors to paint a soul. There are voices that tell of the reign of a hurry than by inordinate time to get ready to know simplicity.
"You really say that?" I asked.
"Yes," he replied in stern voice.
"So what do you do?"
The bow came to rest in the earth absorbed by the white leaving me in the silent darkness of winter. I went home that night and rested peacefully. These days the snow did not stop. The flakes were falling incessantly, fine and coarse, and the white coat is thickened. Fences soon disappeared, and with them the car, buried up to the roof and beyond.
The snowplows were working without peace freeing roads. In just a week the country and the world did not recognize anymore. The snow blocked the people in the house, the shops remained closed, buried by snow-white heaps, not a roaring machine, not a company could produce. The silence that winter shouted strong.
So arrived December 25 and the snow ceased, as the clouds give way to clear blue skies and the sun returned to be more warm and generous. That Christmas, there were gifts or succulent lunches or lights or shiny spruce or cribs. That Christmas instead lit fireplaces and families warmed by the fire. Parents told stories to children and after knowing them their children felt loved.
The boys came out to play in the sun discovering the simplicity of warmth and light, rediscovering the joy of carefree laughter. The men had to get busy shoveling snow with shovels and axes and in the evening, exhausted and hungry, rediscovered the value of simple food and wine. The void left by deaf mute words of televisions now was filled with the joy of storytelling and the elderly themselves, were invited into homes to talk about the history and the past, who suddenly become unique authors of information and wisdom.
The heart resumed beating great humanity and this enabled him to give a bite to the poor and needy. Christmas gift that was given to mankind, through the snow, woke the man in man, giving to all the true meaning of true life, which is the simple white Christmas.
The Christmas is a feast accompanied by different costumes, folklore and celebrations, varying from country to country, both socially and religiously.
There are many traditions, practices and familiar symbols of Christmas, as the Christmas tree, knuckle, sausage, Yule log, holly, mistletoe, Christmas star, exchange of gifts, already present in the traditions of some Nordic people before the introduction of Christianity. The celebrations of the solstice winter were widespread and popular in Northern Europe, and before they were placed in the Christian tradition, the word Christmas was defined with yul, which was made into the Anglo-Saxon word yule. As for the Christmas tree, it is believed to have been introduced for the first time in Germany.
There were also conflicts between religious and governmental authorities on the celebration of Christmas. In England Cromwellian, where flourished a strong theocracy conservative, and in the very first American colonies of New England, Christmas was one of the many celebrations that were suppressed. After the Russian Revolution, in Soviet Union Christmas was suppressed for the next seventy-five years. Nowadays among the Jehovah's Witnesses, in some groups Puritans, and among Christian fundamentalists, Christmas is considered a pagan holiday is not expressly mentioned by the Bible and, therefore, not celebrated.
The gifts represent an important and universal of Christmas celebrations. Widespread all over the world is a mythical figure who brings gifts to children, but in the age of consumerism also adults, and that stems from St. Nicholas a bishop of the fourth century , which is still the character of Santa Claus brings name (Santa Claus) in Northern European countries.
The Dutch have established his feast on December 6. In North America and in the colonies British were adopted some aspects of this celebration of the Christmas holiday, and Sinterklaas (an ancient name of the figure donor) became Santa Claus or Saint Nick. In the UK, although this name was known was called "Father Christmas.
In Anglo American folklore, this character in flesh is sociable and giggly, comes during the night of Christmas on a sleigh pulled by a reindeer, or various reindeer, comes down to the chimney, leaves gifts to children and eat the food that they left. The rest of the year passes by manufacturing toys and receiving letters on the behavior of children.
In the tradition of the French, it is called Père Noël, and his party has developed in a similar way to the Anglo-Saxon tradition. In some versions of the tradition, the elves working in a laboratory of toys, and in some cases is also married. In many countries, children leave empty containers filled during the night, from Santa Claus with small gifts, toys, candy or fruit.
In the United States they hang a stocking over the fireplace, which in Italy is instead left to the Epiphany, so that the donor the fill of games and sweets. In other cultures they put their shoes outside. So do the night before December 6th, for the festive San Nicola . The custom of bringing gifts is not reserved for Santa Claus or other special characters, but is also developed through a mutual exchange of gifts, both within the family and between friends.
The Euphorbia pulcherrima, commonly known as the Christmas star , which with other symbols characterizes one of the major holidays of the Christian religion Even today in many countries on December 6, the day of St. Nicholas of Mithras, is the day dedicated to the gifts. In much of Germany, children put their shoes on the windowsills hoping that St. Nicholas fills them to him with candy and small gifts. Here and in the Netherlands on Christmas Day is just a religious festival. The tradition of St. Nicholas brings gifts to children in Italy is celebrated throughout the Alto Adige (Bolzano), Trieste, Bari, as well as in Friuli, in the Belluno and the Left Piave, under the name of Saint Nicholas.
Usually St. Nicholas is accompanied by a character called Knecht Ruprecht (especially in the north) or Krampus (in the south: Austria, Switzerland and South Tyrol), a kind of hell that replaces Father Christmas in order to kidnap the children. In addition to that in South Tyrol on the evening of December 24 comes the Christkind.
The children of the provinces of Trento, Udine, Verona, Piacenza, Lodi, Cremona, Mantua, Bergamo, Brescia and Modena low are the also brought gifts to Saint Lucia from Syracuse during the night of 13 December, as well as Santa Claus. In Spain and in countries with similar traditions are the gifts brought by the Three Kings, priests and soothsayers of pagan religions, on the feast day of Epiphany.
The song Twelve Days of Christmas perfectly describes the atmosphere and the folklore that form the basis of the tradition belonging to old England in the days ranging from Christmas to Epiphany. In other countries, the Christmas gifts are brought by Santa Claus on the night of December 24th or the morning of Christmas Day. Until the recent past the gifts were brought by members not belonging to the family the day Santo Stefano on 26 December.
The postcards of Christmas cards are very popular both in Europe and in the USA, partly used to maintain relationships with distant relatives and friends and business acquaintances. Many families attached to cards photographs depicting family and stories about the events that accompanied them throughout the year.
The crib or manger is one of the rare Christian originality and is the staging of the Nativity of the Child Jesus. The first nativity scene was Italian, living and animal rights ahead of fact its creator was St. Francis of Assisi, who in 1223 in Greccio asked a friend to put in a cave just a manger, an ox and a donkey, so that the people visually understood and admired the situation and the place where Jesus was born.
Decorating a Christmas tree with decorations and holiday lights, application of garlands , leaves evergreen, special holly and mistletoe, are part of the tradition.The use of Holly was introduced by the early Church with the intent of replacing the pagan symbol evergreen tree: holly leaves represent the crown of Christ, while the berries symbolize the drops of blood coming out from his head.
In North and South America, not in Europe, it is traditional to decorate the outside of the house with lights, slides, puppets and other Christmas figures. The quintessential Christmas flower is the poinsettia. But there are other very popular as the Holly, the red amaryllis and cactus Christmas.
The Christmas log or Christmas chocolate is a sweet Christmas shaped trunk usually covered with chocolate or coffee cream and icing and usually filled with jam, spread mainly in France and other French-speaking countries also known elsewhere and recalling the tradition of the Yule log. The recipe was invented by a baker around 1945.
Allestiscono different city or sponsor decorations along the streets with lights, signs and placing Christmas trees in the main squares. In the United States, once the decorations were included in religious issues.
In many companies, schools and communities in many countries are organized receptions and dances related to Christmas and festivals that usually precede it by several weeks. In the main streets of the big cities they are made of chains of lights, trees and cribs; stores also change by fitting windows at Christmas time with themed decorations and objects. Large shopping centers for obvious reasons sales are generally the first to embellish themselves.
In recent years, among other things, there was a generalized tendency to anticipate more and more the release of the articles related to Christmas, enticing people to shop already well in advance (see already usual panettone and pandoro on the shelves in early in November, while the decorations on the lanes and windows start from the second half of November. on November 30, the day of St. Andrew can be considered the first day official start of the Christmas period, with a period of interruption continues until the first Sunday after Epiphany (January 6) for a period of about 40 days.
Even schools and offices make a closure for those who call the Christmas holidays they at least for schools start on December 23 and continue until January 6. Even the television and Cinema does not dispense the period offering Christmas-themed movie, the kind refers precisely to films with Christmas background in output during the period.
Some groups, however, they stage lavish performances, especially in Latin America . Others organize wandering songs and visit the neighbors singing Christmas songs. In the Anglo-Saxon world, these songs are called carols. Still others work during these holidays, the volunteer in order to raise funds, intended for the works charity.
Both in the Christmas day in Boxing Day they prepare special meals, served with special menus vary from country to country. In particular, in the ' Europe of the East these family feasts are preceded by periods of fasting .
The religious celebrations begin with the Advent, four weeks before Christmas except where people use the Ambrosian rite, where are six weeks, a holiday that is the anticipation of the birth of Christ, characterized by special religious services. During this time we organize the advent songs, distribution to children of small gifts, and Christmas cakes. Before Christmas they are organized religious hymns and songs. During the eve of Christmas and in the same day is celebrated Midnight Mass and that of the Nativity.
The Advent wreath has its origins in Rauhen Haus, a reformatory of a deacon's Hamburg. This was opened by the evangelical church pastor Johann Hinrich Wichern (1808-1881). In Northern Europe, in particular Germany and the Netherlands, the celebration of the Christmas season are centered on the figure of St. Nicholas (also called St. Nicholas), whose feast day is December 6, and it is the analogue of Santa Claus in the English-speaking world. The word Santa Claus derives in particular from the Dutch Sinterklaas , the real character of St. Nicholas, who brings gifts to every good child, as in Germany, during the night between 5 and 6 December.
In the Netherlands, children welcome at Sint arriving in Alkmaar from his summer residence in Madrid in Spain on November 13 with a boat load of presents for children who have been good throughout the year and we are waiting impatiently his feast day which falls on December 6. And when engaging pakjesavond, ie the evening of December 5, the saint with the ministry and the red miter, typical attributes of Bishops, comes on the rooftops on his white horse with his aides color, a bit 'naughty, called Zwarte Pieter (Peter Blacks) to deliver presents to the children who are waiting for him. Antagonists to the saint are the Krampus , wild devils scurrying about the city on those nights. The typical Dutch treats at night Sinterklaas are Kruidnoten .
On the evening of St. Nicholas or Sinterklaas Avond, the Netherlands, remains a most important event of Christmas, however, in recent years, the Netherlands has begun to celebrate in the same way is that Christmas Eve. That, every year, due to a small dispute, whether it is appropriate to start Christmas celebrations, with shopkeepers who prefer to start the lucrative Christmas season immediately after Sinterklaasavond sometimes even adorning decorations before, while others argue that the Christmas party foreign and commercial too purple tradition and celebrations of Sinterklaas. Considering the Santa Claus ancestors, it is very likely that Sinterklaas is more in competition with himself and with others.
In Germany, Christmas traditions vary from region to region. Following the day of St. Nicholas, which for most children is the real Santa Claus bringing gifts the night before, put the gifts under the tree after eating a simple meal. The gifts are brought by Weihnachtsmann , which in German means precisely resembles Santa Claus and St. Nicholas, as Christkind , literally Child Jesus, a goblin, whose resemblance to the Child Jesus is the subject of dispute. In some parts of Germany, Austria and Switzerland also appears Knecht Ruprecht, a little devil you replace Santa Claus to humiliate and abduct children.
In Alto Adige Advent importance unknown in the rest of Italy, which are, among other things, organized the widespread and popular Christmas markets (in German Christkindl, Weihnachts or Adventsmärkte) and in which people getting ready for the coming of Christ with the preparation of sweets and Christmas biscuits, tree (Weihnachts or Christbaum), the crib (Krippe) and decorations.
December 6 is celebrated across the province and from all language groups the arrival of Nikolaus (St. Nicholas also in Italian) accompanied by the dreaded Krampus, which brings small gifts and sweets (chocolate, tangerines and nuts, bonbons, Pfeffer or Lebkuchen) often in the characteristic red bag. Each Sunday of Advent applies the custom of lighting a candle on the traditional Advent wreath (Adventskranz), while every day the children await the arrival of Christmas by opening a small box of Advent Calendar (Adventskalender) which starts from getting to the 24.
On the evening of Christmas eve (Heiligabend), is the time when we exchange gifts and children arrive or the Christkind or Santa Claus. For all it's midnight mass on December 24th. The party does not end with Christmas, but expects the arrival of the Three Kings (Heilige Drei Könige) with children dressed as the Magi who go from house to house to announce the birth of Christ asking for a small donation, while in change often sweets are offered. In South Tyrol, the figure of the Befana, spread to neighboring southern regions, it is unknown to most.
In Sweden , the entire month of December is full of preparations for Christmas: they prepare the sweets, it decorates the house, there is the procession of Saint Lucia on 13 December. Christmas Eve becomes the largest party with families and children await the arrival of Tomte, originally the little elf that protected families and houses. Now the Tomte equivalent to Santa Claus bringing Christmas gifts. Typical of the festive season is also the julbord, a variant of the smorgasbord, which is a buffet which includes all traditional Swedish cuisine.
Companies, traditionally, during the weeks leading up to Christmas, invite their employees to a Christmas party with the smorgasbord. Christmas is, first of all, a food festival, the ham, but there is such a regional variety that each day is served the best. The traditionally more unifying TV program across Sweden during the Christmas season is a special Disney which airs at 15:00 on Christmas Eve. Early the morning of 25 church celebrates us Julotta, with many traditional songs and the religious function.
The celebrations of Christmas Norwegian begin with the feast of December 24, followed by the visit of Julenissen , who brings gifts to children who believe him. After a quiet December 25, follows another important celebration on Boxing Day , where children, going door to door, they receive little money from the neighbors. Joulupukki or Christmas Goat is the Santa Claus of the Finns. He, too, travels on a sleigh pulled by a reindeer delivering presents to the good children.
In Southern Europe, Christmas is a fusion of modern and ancient traditions that go back to the Holy Roman Empire . Also here: food, religious observances, nativity scene and the gifts are the most important events. In some regions the gifts are purchased for Epiphany, brought by the Befana, and in others by Baby Jesus on Christmas Eve or Christmas as well as to Saint Lucia from Syracuse. In recent years in Italy the figure of Santa Claus has become increasingly important.
In Spain, especially in Catalonia, to the figurines nativity figurines are juxtaposed two very characteristics that of Tio, a small tree trunk that if shaken releases some sweets, and that of the caganer, considered one of the most fun original and scherzosi port-bonheur.
In the Czech Republic, Christmas is mainly celebrated on December 24, or Christmas Eve, even though the 25 and 26 days of vacation. In tonight comes Jezisek, or baby Jesus. In this country they continue their antique traditions of old Christmas, mainly for fun. It regulates the believer to fast for the whole Eve, until it is served a ceremonial dinner in order to be able to see the golden pig. The gifts are placed under the Christmas tree, usually a spruce or a pine and open after lunch.
Other Czech traditions contemplate the premonition, with cross cutting of apples; if you get a star in the center, the coming year will be successful, but if a cross appears not. Girls throw shoes over their shoulders. If the toes touch the door, the girl in the coming year will find a husband. Other traditions contemplate the molten lead poured into water and the shape that the lead assumes cooling emerges a response, useful in predicting the future.
In Poland, Christmas Eve is the first holiday, and is celebrated with a feast. The festival begins with the appearance of a first star, reads the passage from the Bible, you are greeting each other with a Oplatek (the host), then dinner, followed by an exchange of gifts and the singing of Christmas carols (koledy - the very rich traction in Poland). The next day we go out with my friends.
Christmas in Slovakia is celebrated especially in the family: food and religious celebrations are the main events. In 2001 it was built in Bratislava a huge crib, built by Plavecky Stvrtok, a designer with experience in other cities.
In Eastern Europe, Slavic countries follow the tradition of Ded Moroz or Ice Age Grandfather. According to legend, he travels on a magical troika, a decorated sleigh drawn by three horses, to deliver presents to the children. It is thought that from this character is descended the Santa Claus and Saint Nicholas.
Christmas celebrations in Russia have been restored since 1992, after nearly seven decades of suppression by the communist government. These festivities are centered on Eve, the Holy Supper, which consists of twelve dishes, one for each apostle of Jesus. The Russian tradition is kept alive by the visit of the Father Frost, and its Snow Maiden, the first day of the year.
Russian Christmas traditions also include the Christmas tree, or yolka, bought for the first time since Peter the Great , after his travels in Europe in the late eighteenth century, the Christmas traditions and Christmas in general were deeply felt during the Russian Empire, was in fact the only time of year where the poor could hope for some alms and charity donations from the rich.
In Great Britain the fireworks are an integral part of the Christmas celebrations, while mime shows are very popular among young families. A Cambridge at King's College, for example, is holding a special festival called Nine Lessons and Caroles rich in a very popular program as well as religious. Every year since 1947, the city of Oslo offers a gift to London, the garlands as thanks for the work carried out by the United Kingdom in favor of Norway during the Second World War.
The Christmas tree, which is erected in Trafalgar Square in London, is considered the most known and famous throughout Britain. Also in Britain is used to buy Advent calendars that are open every day and inside there are the chocolates. During the British Empire it was customary to transfer uses traditions and customs to the British elite of the colonies and several countries after independence have maintained the same customs of the United Kingdom.
In the United States and Canada, the tradition of Santa Claus is essentially the same as the Anglo-Saxon; only Quebec follows the French tradition of Père Noël . Central elements of the US Christmas celebrations are: the Christmas tree, the ice rink at Rockefeller Center in New York and the Christmas decorations of the White House. Even after 50 years Norad, which stands for North American Aerospace Defense Command, keeps alive the original tradition, which traces the transit of Christmas Santa Claus, getting considerable attention from the media.
Always in Mexico the Christmas tradition revolves around the posada. For nine days, groups of people go from door to door, dressed as the ancient wise men, and are regularly invited into homes to participate in the exchange of gifts, called piñata.
The dominant themes of the religious holidays of Christmas are influenced strongly by the Catholic religion. Centuries-old customs that are the basis of bringing gifts, are a mixture of local and European traditions. These traditions include El Niño Jesus, or Christ Child, who brings gifts to children in Colombia ; in Chile is the tradition of Pasquero Viejo or Old Man of Christmas, while in Brazil the tradition of Papai Noel closely resembles that of Santa Claus.
In South America the traditions related to the saints are followed as they give people a sense of lightheartedness in expectation of Christmas, and for this to such characters, so many systems to enter homes at night: the stairs were attributed the trampolines. In Argentina the gifts are brought on 6 January, the Day of the Three Kings; Here the children leave their shoes under the bed and in the morning if the find themselves filled with sweets or small gifts brought by the Magi, who stopped them on the road to Bethlehem.
The nativity scenes are deeply rooted in the traditions of Christmas in South America, both in households and in public places. In Peru , where there is a strong component of descendants of Native Americans, the Christmas figures are often hand-carved according to a very old style. In Mexico however are very much alive traditions related to the processions, events that mimic and celebrate the birth of Christ. Lunch in these areas is very important and varies from area to area and from region to region. Here, too, Christmas is celebrated with lights, parties, holidays, and as the southern hemisphere's summer, even with fireworks especially in the Brazilian city.
The Philippines have earned the merit of celebrating the longest Christmas season in the world and, as in other countries, have been the influence of Hispanic culture. In this country prevails the nativity scene, very widespread, full of lights and decorations. Traditionally, Christmas Day of this nation is accompanied by a pre-Christmas period of religious celebrations beginning on December 16 and last nine days, until Christmas Eve. Known as Misas de Aguinaldo or put Aguinaldo, in the Spanish tradition, these celebrations are very popular in the Philippines as the Simbang Gabi.
On Christmas Eve, is the most anticipated night, the so-called noche buena or good night, and is, to this country, the traditional Christmas party after the midnight mass. Members of the family have lunch together, with queso de bola or cheese balls, usually edam, and hamon or Christmas ham. On Christmas Day the children do visit their relatives to receive as a gift or something aguinaldos, sanctifying the feast, in a hubbub of life and prosperity. In South Korea and East Timor, there is a vast community of Christians where Christmas is celebrated and is considered an official holiday.
In Taiwan, on December 25th it is considered the day when he signed the Constitution of the Republic of China in the year 1947. And it is extremely popular, as if it were Christmas. The Japan considers the day December 25 the official holiday, and adopted the same Western tradition of Christmas Santa Claus, but the most important day is on 1 January. Also it is considered a day to spend with your loved one. In India , in many schools, this period is considered as the Christmas holidays; begin shortly before Christmas and end a few days later, usually on 1 January. In Hindi and Bengali Christmas is called Bada Din, or the big day and also celebrates Santa Claus and buying gifts.
In the countries of the British Empire belonging to southern hemisphere, Christmas is celebrated on December 25, even if you are at the peak of the summer season. This celebration is in conflict with the traditional iconography, it is an anachronism to see Santa Claus dressed in a heavy red dress to surf on the beaches Australian or New Zealand. The Christmas tradition of these countries began in Melbourne in 1938 , and since then has spread throughout the world with the classic Carole candlelight, where people, breaks into song on entry of the house, during the eve of taking holding a candle.
In countries where it is celebrated, Christmas is typically the largest annual stimulus for the economy. Sales have increased dramatically in all sectors, with purchases of gifts, decorations and food for lunches and Christmas dinners, and guests visiting. The shops introduce new products at competitive prices. The shopping season has stretched to the point that begins no later than the feast of Immaculate Conception. For some shops and commercial activities, Christmas is the only day of closing of the year. The economic impact of Christmas continues after the holidays, with balances, where shops sell off the stock footage.
Many religious people, as well as the anti-consumerist, complain of commercialization of Christmas. They see a Christmas season dominated by money and consumption, which includes the cost of the important values of the party such as compassion, generosity and kindness.
In North America, the film season of the holiday season often hosts the release of the most prestigious film, in an attempt to capture both the crowds of spectators on holiday than to position itself for the Oscar Award. After the summer, this is the most lucrative season for the industry. The Christmas films normally do not go out over the Thanksgiving Day , because they have issues that are not so popular after the end of the season.