The History and Culture of Europe, shared with you by our European volunteers!

27 de Dezembro de 2019.

Christmas in Germany

Silent night, holy night – Christmas in Germany When the air starts smelling like roasted almonds, when the city center is immersed in warm lights and when children start to sing their hearts out on the streets, then you know it`s time for one of the most important German Christmas traditions: The Christmas Market. The idea of this pre-Christmas market originates in the Late Middle Ages when people bought goods to prepare for the cold wintertime. Throughout the years also craftsmen, toymakers and confectioners were allowed to sell their products, contributing to the Christmas market as it is today. Traditionally, the market starts in the last week of November and lasting until Christmas Eve. A very curious thing about this […]
25 de Dezembro de 2019.

Time before Christmas in Germany

Some traditions have moved into the background in recent years and others are still very important for the people. Our Christmas starts with the Advent season. It starts four weeks before Christmas day on a Sunday. There we light the first candle from our Advent wreath and every Sunday until Christmas we will light one more candle. So, at Christmas, all four candles will be lit on the Advent wreath. During this time, we have another celebration. On the 6th of December Saint Nicholas visits our houses. He was the bishop of Myra and this is why he has a bishop’s hat and a bishop’s stick. In my hometown, we have this tradition that all girls in the last year […]
23 de Dezembro de 2019.

Christmas traditions in Ireland

Ireland has a wide number of Christmas traditions steeped in the Gaelic and Catholic heritage of the country. A tradition that was very widespread in the 1970s but which seems to be dying out somewhat and especially in urban areas is the candle in the window. Symbolically the candle represented a welcome to Joseph and Mary as they wandered in search of lodgings. The candle indicated to strangers and especially to the poor that there may be an offering of food in the house within. During the penal times in Ireland Catholic priests were forbidden to perform mass so the candle would also show people passing by that the person in the house was a Catholic believer and mass could […]
20 de Dezembro de 2019.

Christmas in Scotland

Scottish Christmas traditions are very recent because Christmas did not become a public holiday in Scotland until 1958. In 1640 an act in the Scottish Parliament banned the celebration of Christmas, then called Yule. This was because of the Reformation, which saw the country breaking with the Catholic Church and developing a national Kirk (church) which was influenced by Presbyterian outlooks. The attitudes towards celebrations changed after the Reformation leading to them outlawing the celebration of Christmas festivities. Christmas was, therefore, a quiet affair for many years; which meant that Hogmanay (New Year’s Eve) was the biggest festival for the Scottish. Hogmanay includes many traditions such as “first-footing” which is to be the first person to visit a friend after […]
18 de Dezembro de 2019.

Christmas Eve around the table

Like in most Central European countries, Christmas in Poland is a quaint and much-beloved affair. Most of the Polish Christmas celebrations take place on 24th December, and even though the day isn’t an official public holiday in Poland, to many Poles it is one of the most significant and family-oriented dates in the calendar. Many institutions stop working earlier than usual on the day of Christmas Eve, which is usually celebrated with a family dinner at home. Many Poles wait until the first star appears in the sky before sitting down to eat on 24th December. This tradition commemorates the Star of Bethlehem, which according to the New Testament guided the Wise Men to the birthplace of Christ. Nowadays, with […]