Dear Language Friend,
Christmas is around the corner. Almost all doors of the Advent calendar have been opened and everyone is waiting for the holidays to come. My experience with Christmas is that time is flying during the holidays and everything is over pretty fast. However, after Christmas the celebrations won’t stop as the New Year draws near. You may think of something totally different when you think of these two celebrations. Even in our office there are differences, as we come from various countries. Various countries mean various backgrounds and various Christmas and New Year celebrations. Do you want to find out how these two holidays are celebrated in the countries represented at LingoStar? Then continue to read this month’s newsletter.
Contributed by the LingoStar Team
Frohe Weihnachten und einen guten Rutsch!
In Germany, during the Christmas season (which starts around mid-October in the supermarkets, but normally with the Advent season, 4 weeks before Christmas Eve) we decorate our houses, inside and outside, with lights, candles and fir branches. On an Advent Sunday, we light the Advent wreath and in the afternoon, we eat self-made cookies – every family seems to have its own recipe. We also eat gingerbread, Christmas Stollen (a cake with lots of raisins and spices) and Spekulatius (a spiced cookie). At least one visit to one of the numerous Christmas markets, which you can even find in small villages, is a must. There you can get all sorts of spices, candies (like roasted almonds or marzipan) and the typical “Glühwein” – a hot drink made of wine and various spices. You can also buy many different Christmas trinkets like candles or baubles. There is even a German-style Christmas market here in Vancouver, which you should visit when you are in the city around Christmas.
On the 24th of December, after having prayed and sung in the church, Germans go home and eat sausage and potato salad or something else that is not that elaborate (the more elaborate dishes are cooked the next two days). After dinner, we gather around the Christmas tree for the “Bescherung”, the time when the presents are unpacked. The 25th and the 26th of December are holidays in Germany. On these days, we visit our relatives, enjoying dishes that are not great for keeping slim! We eat something special, like roasted goose with sauce, dumplings and red cabbage, or roast venison with sauce, dumplings and red cabbage, or duck breast with sauce, dumplings and red cabbage (you see what the most important part is?). Often, we also go out for lunch or dinner.
Then, on 31st December we celebrate New Year’s Eve. In Germany, it is a must to gather around the TV in the late afternoon to watch “Dinner for One”, an old English sketch about a lady celebrating her 90th birthday together with her butler James and four friends who already passed away and are imitated by the butler. Although I already know what happens after 21 New Year’s Eves, it is always a pleasure to watch it every year. In the evening, some people go to a party to celebrate with others and some stay at home. If staying at home, something you typically eat is fondue or “raclette”. After eating, we play games, listen to music and do some lead-pouring. And, not to forget, we drink! In Germany, you can buy fireworks only a limited time before New Year’s Eve, and you can shoot them off yourself. When the clock shows 12 am, the fireworks begin. We say “Prost Neujahr” and drink sparkling wine. We go out, watch the fireworks and wish our neighbors “Prost Neujahr”. The next day is a holiday. A typical dish you eat on 1st January is Bratwurst with Sauerkraut and mashed potatoes. By the way: The Christmas tree will only be thrown away on 6th January, the “Epiphani”.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
In England, you can find many traditions that the British have during Christmas time. It is a wonderful place to be if you are a tourist. In mid-November, Christmas markets are put in place, one of the most popular ones being Winter Wonderland in London: attractions, fairs, giant ice skating rinks… it’s like being in a fairy tale! As for the food on Christmas day, the British have their roast turkey and potatoes with traditional Yorkshire puddings. For dessert, there is the famous Christmas pudding served with brandy. At Christmas time, pantomimes are very popular around Christmas, especially for children. Most of the London streets and shops are decorated with thousands of Christmas lights, and you can find giant Christmas trees around town. Traditions are expanded until after the New Year, after the glorious fireworks in central London and all over the country. Merry Christmas everyone!
Happy Holidays, eh?
Canada has some classic Christmas traditions but being such a multicultural country, every family has their own special customs that they take part in depending on their cultural background. A typical Canadian Christmas consists of real pine trees used as Christmas trees and stockings hung above the fireplace. Kids wake up really early in the morning on December 25th to open presents that were delivered by Santa the night before. The stockings are also full of little gifts like toys or chocolate. Games or perhaps winter sports like hockey are played outside (if there is snow/ice) throughout the morning while a big family dinner is prepared including roasted turkey or sometimes ham, mashed potatoes, and lots of vegetables like Brussels sprouts and turnips. Dinner is served early around 4pm and family members gather together and celebrate into the night, playing cards or watching movies and drinking beer and wine or for the youngsters, hot chocolate!
Some Latin American countries like Peru celebrate Christmas in much the same way as Canada or the USA, but instead of waking up and celebrating on December 25th, the festivities happen on the 24th, which is known as ‘Noche Buena’ or ‘Good Night’. It’s hot summer weather in December so you won’t find any pine trees; instead fake shiny Christmas trees are used. Typically Peruvians will go to midnight mass or ‘Misa de Gallo’ at 10pm, and come home to prepare a big feast for the whole family to eat at midnight. For the dinner, they will serve roast turkey and vegetable sides and salads, including apple sauce, as well as Peruvian tamales. For dessert, you’ll often find ‘Panetón’, originally from Italy, which is a dome-shaped sweet bread with raisins and dried fruit, best eaten toasted with butter. Presents are opened at midnight too, and afterwards fireworks are set off on the streets and fiestas and dance parties will continue on to the wee hours with plenty of the local liquor ‘Pisco’ to drink!
According to Czech culture, Christmas is celebrated the evening of December 24th. There are a plenty of traditions and habits. For Christmas dinner, the family gathers for a traditional dinner where they serve carp soup, potato salad with fried carp and Christmas cookies. After the dinner comes the exchanging of gifts between family members. Then there is the cutting of apples, a tradition of cutting an apple in half, to predict our future for the incoming year. If the seeds inside are in the shape of a five-pointed star, you will be lucky and healthy. If the core of the apple is rotten and wormy, you might be ill next year, and if the seeds are in the shape of a cross, you can expect bad luck. Then there are the walnut shell boats: people traditionally manufacture boats of walnut shells with a small candle inside. These boats are placed into a bowl with water. If your boat floats close to the edge of the bowl, you will stay at home next year, but if it is circling in the center of the bowl, you will begin a new journey. Like the Germans, we also do lead-melting. Many families also melt lead to pour it into a container filled with water. Lead cools down in the water and creates complex shapes, which represent various objects from your future. And there’s also the singing of carols, popular with many families during the holidays.
In France, Christmas traditions vary depending on the region, but there are many celebrations in common. It is a time when families and friends exchange gifts, decorate their houses. Children write their letter to Santa with a ‘Wish List’ and put their slippers under the tree in the hope that Santa will not forget to deliver their presents. Christmas is generally celebrated both on December 24th and 25th. On Christmas Eve, a big dinner is prepared. In France, the day before Christmas is called ‘le Réveillon’. The dinner may consist of goose, chicken, oysters, and ‘boudin blanc’ (similar to white pudding). For dessert, there is the traditional ‘Yole log’, or ‘bûche de Noël’. Presents are generally opened on the morning of the 25th and the day is spent with family around the table enjoying another feast. As part of the holidays, a round apple or almond tart, called ‘La Galette des Rois’ is served throughout January. Whoever finds ‘la fève’ or the charm hidden inside becomes the King or Queen and can choose a partner. Christmas is the children’s favorite holiday, as well as adults!
Many Different Ways to Celebrate
So you see that there are many, sometimes only tiny differences in celebrating Christmas in various cultures. However, even if they are only tiny, they could make a huge difference when you’re trying to get your message across to different cultures. This does not only apply to Christmas, but to almost any multicultural endeavour. Here at LingoStar, we cooperate with highly professional translators and interpreters who can help you. As the New Year draws near, you may want to launch a new marketing campaign for your company in 2014? Do you need to apply for citizenship and have immigration-related documents to be translated? No problem, LingoStar is at your service – from website translation to voice-overs or subtitle translation to translation of almost any type of document. Feel free to give us a call at 604-629-8420 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your next language-related project. Don’t hesitate: we’re here to help!
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