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

29 de Abril de 2019.

Christmas in Silesia, Poland

We celebrate it a bit differently than in the rest of the country. Christmas in Poland is a very special time. But in Silesia, the region where I was born and raised and where all my family lives, we celebrate it a bit differently than in the rest of the country. The most important day is Christmas Eve on the 24th of December. At my home, the preparations start early in the morning when all of the women (me, my mother and my grandmother) start cooking dishes for the dinner, bake cakes and make makówki – my favorite Christmas sweet dish made of poppyseed, nuts, and bread. When the kids spot the first star in the sky, the whole family […]
26 de Abril de 2019.

Traditions in the Basque Country

The comparison with the Nordic Santa Claus was inevitable. Christmas Traditions: Olentzero Olentzero is a character from the Basque Christmas tradition. He is a mythological collier that brings Christmas gifts to homes in the Basque Country, on both sides of the Pyrenees. Olentzero is represented as a thick man, unkempt, stained with coal. His main characteristic is that he lives isolated from the society dedicated to making charcoal in the forest, enjoying eating and drinking well and every winter he goes down from the mountains to the villages. The most widespread hypothesis is that the origin of Olentzero predates the Christianization of Navarre and that the character of Olentzero must be located within the celebrations of the winter solstice. There […]
24 de Abril de 2019.

A Europe of Traditions

The Traditions of Christmas, Carnival, and Easter in Germany. In my home country, Christmas time starts with the 1st of December, children receive “Adventskalender”, a calendar made mostly out of chocolates, which are used as a count down until Christmas Eve. This period is called the time of advent, from Latin adventus meaning arrival. Each Sunday during these four weeks is especially important, as, on these Sundays of Advent, we are lighting up one candle after another on our Advent wreath, until at the end, there are 4 candles lit: the sign that Christmas has come. On the 6th of December, we celebrate Saint Nicolaus day, in the night from the 5th to the 6th, children put out their boots […]
22 de Abril de 2019.

Traditions in Holland

Everybody goes out on the streets and wears orange. The traditions of Christmas Santa is not a prominent figure in the traditional Holland Christmas celebration. Instead, children look forward to the arrival of St. Nicholas in November. St. Nicholas wears red bishop’s robes and is accompanied by a helper who is known as Zwarte Piet or Black Peter. Children are told that St. Nicholas and Black Peter spend the year writing down good and bad behaviors in a large book and preparing a list of presents that they will give the Dutch children who have been well behaved. If children have been bad, however, they are told that Black Peter will chase them with a stick! In Holland, presents are […]
19 de Abril de 2019.

Important holidays during the year

Poland is a country in which traditions and religious holidays are still very strongly cultivated. Two of the most important during the year are, of course, Christmas and Easter. Christmas days are family time. The celebration begins with supper on December 24, when the first star hits the sky. It is a symbolic reference to the Star of Bethlehem announcing the birth of Jesus. Before sitting down to the dinner, family share pieces of a wafer and everyone is wishing each other all the best for Christmas and New Year. This custom is a reference to the Last Supper and the sharing of bread. On the table should appear the traditional 12 dishes, under the table there is hay, and […]