It is the most wonderful time of the year: Christmas. Let us take a quick tour around the world to discover some interesting traditions and revelations.
Christmas day was born when Pope Julius I, the bishop of Rome, proclaimed December 25 the official celebration day for Jesus’ birthday, in the year 350 AD.
Mistletoe. As a child, I always wondered about this Christmas song “I saw mummy kissing Santa Clause, underneath the mistletoe one night…” Held sacred by the Celtic people, this magical plant remains green and bears fruit right through winter which is why it was thought to cure infertility amongst other diseases. Today, they still symbolise eternal life and re birth amongst certain cultures.
Church bells. If you were to travel around Europe, you could not miss the church bells ringing on Christmas Eve. And here is the story behind it. According to old English folk tales, the Devil died when Jesus was born. Hence, the church bells were rung to announce the demise of the Devil. In England this custom was called tolling or ringing “the Devil’s knell.”
In Peru, Christmas Eve seem to take a larger importance than Christmas Day itself. Interestingly, the Nativity scene holds centre stage in the Peruvian homes where gifts are spread around it rather than the Christmas tree. The one chosen to put the figurine of baby Jesus into the manger on Christmas day is regarded as the “lucky one”.
Greenland tops the award for the Christmas dish that requires the longest preparation. Kiviak, which takes seven months to prepare, consists of hollowing out a seal skin and stuffing it with 500 auks– a sea bird (feathers and all)– to ferment. Then, on Christmas Day, it’s served straight from the seal. You won’t find that on The Big Rajah menu anytime soon.
To entertain our South African guests, TBR may consider incorporating their seasonal delicacy for Christmas (not!). Every December local South Africans feast on deep-fried caterpillars of Emperor Moths… not too far from our Vietnamese and Chinese friends.
Candy cane is formed after Jesus’ staff used to shepherd his lambs and its red and white colors represent purity (white) and Christ’s sacrifice (red).
Here is one to adopt. The traditional Ukrainian Christmas Eve dinner serves 12 courses with each of them dedicated to one of Christ’s apostles.
Have yourself a very merry Christmas and if you are ever in need of an interesting topic to discuss, just pull some of these fascinating Christmas facts during your Christmas dinner. You will sound like a well-read and well-travelled trivia pro in no time.