On New Year's Day families cut the vasilopita to bless
the house and bring good luck for the new year. This is
usually done at the midnight of New Year's Eve. A coin
is hidden in the bread by slipping it into the dough
before baking. At midnight the sign of the cross is
etched with a knife across the cake. A piece of cake is
sliced for each member of the family and any visitors
present at the time, by order of age from eldest to
youngest. Slices are also cut for various symbolic
people or groups, depending on local and family
Christmas in Greece (Glykeria)
On Christmas Eve, children go out to sing 'kalanda' (carols)
playing triangles. They used to carry a boat in the past
especially in the Greek Islands.
They are given money or sweets.
Christmas Trees are decorated although in the past they
used to use sailing ships instead.
The main Christmas meal is often Lamb or pork, roasted in
an oven or over an open spit. It's often served with a
spinach and cheese pie and various salads and vegetables.
As desserts there are Theeples (a kind of fried pastry) and
melomakarono. A traditional table decoration are loaves of
'christopsomo' (Christ bread)
In Greek Happy/Merry Christmas is 'Kala Christougenna'
In Greek Schools during the days leading to Christmas
Waiting for Christmas, yet during
November in Greek Schools, we
start the preparations.
First of all we create an external
cheerful spirit, by decorating all
Children are full of inspiration and
they love to present their celebrating
Before Christmas housewifes make
special sweets like melomakarona
by using semolina and kourabiedes
by using powered sugar.At
Christmas lunch we usually eat
turkey with rise or potaetos grilled in
Christmas in Crete - in Greece (Popi Halkia)
Even Though I live in Xanthi, I come
In New Years Eve parents and
grandparents give to the children of
the family the KALH XERA
(translation good hand). In other
words they give money to the
children for the new year so the new
year to be wealthy and prosper and
the children usually kiss their hands
as a token of respect and love.
Prepare a normal dough with 1/2 kilo of flour, a small cup of oil, 1 glass of
water, salt and a little lemon juice. Roll out the dough and cut in strips 8 to
10 cm wide and 25-30 cm long. Spread the sour "mizithra" (a kind of soft
Cretan cheese) all along the strips and fold them. Starting at one end,
twist the ribbon in a spiral. The shape is similar to a "sariki" (the traditional
headdress of Cretan men which is why the pies are called
"Sarikopites":sariki-pies). Deep fry and serve with honey.
Greece ( Karamitrou Sofia )
Klatharies or Kolianta - Bonfires in Christmas Eve
Klatharies - On Christmas Eve the inhabitants gather
brush from the surrounding area. Each neighbourhood
group builds tall, (three to six metres), conical shaped
mounds that are decorated sparsely with balloons and
tinsel. After nightfall a parade, including a brass band
playing local music, begins the celebration. In
succession each mound of brush is set afire as the
parade reaches the neighbourhood. The inhabitants
then dance around the fires. Many of the village youth
then stay up all night around the remnants of the
bonfires to start carolling early in the morning of
Christmas Eve, collecting money while singing door to
Greece - Crete (Anna Liviaki)
On Christmas eve in a
natural cave at Spilia, a
village in Chania Crete, you
can attend a representation
of the manger in
Βethlehem with shepherds,
Christmas and New year’s eve _Greece
on christmas and new
year’s eve, groups of
children go around
houses and shops
and sing christmas
carols, holding a
in exchange owners
of houses and shops
give them a small
amount of money and
Christmas traditional dish in Greece (Angeliki
Traditional festive accompanying dish.
Ιndispensable complement for CHRISTMAS
dinner. It is cooked all around my
region(Thrace) and can be baked or boiled.
The tradition wants to have gotten its name
from the bamboo, which means grandmother.
As the grandmother is old and goes to the end
of life, so is the "bamboo" eaten at the end of
the year. According to other people, the dish
took its name from the manufacturing material,
pork intestine, as pig was in every home, at
least the last 100 years, and its derivatives
accounted for the annual family needs. The pig
slaughtered on the eve of Christmas.
Christmas customs in Greece (Maria
On Christmas day there is
a family gathering to
celebrate the Holy day over
a rich meal. Stuffed turkey
is the main dish while
delicious pies and salads
are also on the Christmas
Christmas and New Year in Greece
At Christmas, houses fill with
beautiful scents of sweet, as
melomakarono, kourabies and
diples. All friends and relatives
exchange their gifts and sweets.
Especially godparents seek the best
gift to their baptisteries.
On the first day of the New Year,
the smallest member of each family
knocks on the head all others with a
pomegranate for good luck.
Additionally, that day, the first who
comes to every home is said to
make omen for the whole year.
Christmas traditions in the Greek islands
People on the Greek
islands used to decorate
ships and boats and still do
but not as much as in the
People on the Greek
islands hang a branch of
an olive tree on the door for
good luck.On New Years
Day they break a
pomegranate outside their
doors to symbolise
abundance of goods and
leave the water running for
Romania (Tania Catargiu)
December 6 is St. Nicholas Day.
This feast day is celebrated in different ways in different
countries. Here in Romania the tradition is to put cleaned
and polished shoes out on a windowsill or by the door on the
night of December 5.
Overnight St. Nicholas comes and places presents inside.
Presents might be chocolates or other sweets, nuts, oranges,
or small gifts.
For children who have been bad or need t
o be reminded to do better a twig with gold, silver, or bronze
All the doors are open!Romania(Adina
In 24 decembers,romanian
kids sing in every houses
and all the doors of houses
are open for them.The
carols are very ancient and
they will bring nuts,apples
and penny for the people
where they sing.
Christmas tradition in Romania-Ghelesian Silvia
In many parts of Romania,
it's traditional that someone
dresses up as a goat, with a
multicolored mask, and
goes round with the carol
singers. The goat is known
as the 'Capra' and it jumps
and dances around getting
up to lots of mischief!
Romania(Perisoru village)Nicolae Marina
In the country side, the caroling tradition comes in different
forms. There is the simple caroling, which involves only
people singing, and there are special carols, which include
dancing and more complex performances.
There is the Christmas carol which involves carolers
dressed as bears. In the past, a real bear was also included
in the dance. The tradition, called Ursul (the Bear Dance), is
mostly kept in most part of Romania including our village
Perisoru on New Year’s Eve. The tradition aims to purify and
fertilize the soil for the next year. The bear cult is of Geto-
Dacian origins; back then, the bear was a sacred animal.
Another special carol is called Capra (the Goat). In this
case, one or several carolers dress up as goats and dance
to a pipe tune.
The video was made last year with my students
...hope you will like it….enjoy …
Romania (Aura Ungureanu) Christmas Custom - The Star
This is another Christmas custom specific
to the Romanian people and it takes place
around Christmas Eve.
Those who bear the Star and go carolling
are between 7 and 14 years old.
The custom has a religious significance as
it is related to the star that made its appearance
and guided the Three Magi coming from the
The children go carolling and carry a big
wooden star trimmed with coloured paper and
Petre Felicia-Constanța, ROMÂNIA
Games with masks
The best known is the Goat, practiced in
villages south of Constanta. The priests say
that the custom has its roots in ancient times,
when St. Andrew Christianity spread in these
lands. Custom goat wandering there since
that time, and St. taught the natives to bring
the message of Christ's Nativity and so
appeared the carol.
A band of young goat nose accompanied
clămpănitor walk from house to house to
make wishes for health and prosperity.
Carolers make much noise, to ward off evil
Celebrating Christmas in Romania (Váncsa Szilvia)
-middle part where live hungarian minorities
The parents and children are
celebrating the Christmas evening in
the church - I think the faith in God,
in Jesus is more important than any
else thing in this world.
I wish for every one Happy
Christmas traditions in Romania
in our school there is a tradition that
in the last week of the course, before
the holidays, students in each class
decorate a tree with stars and
golden balls. Teachers and students
sang lovely Christmas songs
It organizes a festival that presents
the most beautiful designs and the
best cakes me. Everyone is happy
Merry Christmas Craciun Fericit!
Christmas Goodies from Romania (Alina Mioara)
In Romania, there is no traditional
Christmas meal without the main
dish called ‘SARMALE’ - a sort of
mince meat rolls in cabbage leaves -
otherwise very tasty, accompanied
by a glass (or a couple) of our
traditional plum brandy named
‘TUICA’, as well as the famous
dessert ‘COZONAC’ - pound cake
with raisin and nut filling.
Christmas in Romania (Daniela Bucur)
In Romania, we
presents to each
other and feel happy
Christmas to all of
France (Régine Huzen)
In France during the
Christmas time we
eat and offer a typical
sweet “La papillote”.
Christmas traditions in our family in France
Traditions vary according to family origins and
culture. In my family, what counts as much as
decorating the Christmas tree involves creating
objects that will fill the house with pleasant
fragrance. For instance, we thrust oranges with
many cloves: it is time-consuming but a nice
moment to share with all the members of the
family. We then put them in cupboards, or on
pedestal tables; We also offer some to our
dearest. It is a symbolical token to bring
cheerfulness to everybody all year round.
Another tradition is that everybody who enters
our home chooses a bauble and hangs it in the
Christmas tree, as a lucky charm.
We also bake cinnamon objects that we hang
everywhere to give off nice perfumes in the
Traditions in French Guiana (FRANCE)
Every weekend, Christmas caroling parties are
organized. We call them “Chanté Nwèl”. People
join together to sing in a joyful atmosphere during
the Advent until December 24th. During these
parties, people eat a soup called “Creole soup”
made of vegetables and meat. There are as many
recipes as cooks!
It is really difficult to define a stereotyped
Christmas menu because of French Guianese
multiculturalism. You can find on the same table
Christmas ham, “Creole pâtés”or “Marinades”, foie
gras, oysters, salmon and so many delicious
The only important thing is to join together around
a tasty meal in a happy atmosphere with the whole
family . The feast generally last from December
24th to December 25th. Some people go to
Celebrating Christmas in Georgia
On this day, large processions make their way through
cities, towns, and villages throughout Georgia. These mass
walks, called Alilo, are central to Georgia’s unique
Christmas celebration. Banner-carrying clergy lead the
processions, and men, women and children follow. Dressed
as shepherds, soldiers, famous religious figures, or wearing
traditional Georgian clothes, the procession members
congratulate each other, and collect money for charities
Celebrating Christmas in Georgia
Christmas trees are an important part of Georgian
Christmas, as well. Georgian Christmas trees, called
Chichilaki, are carved from the branches of walnut trees.
Hanging, curled strands of white wood give these small
trees a distinctive, unmistakable appearance. It is easy to
see why Chichilaki are often called “Basil’s beard.”
More familiar Christmas concepts have a place in Georgian
festivities, as well. Santa claus, known as tovlis papa
(Grandfather Snow), is usually depicted wearing traditional
Georgian clothes and a fur cloak called a nabadi. Although
Grandfather Snow doesn’t have reindeer or a sled, he still is
believed to visit homes on Christmas eve, leaving presents
for the children.
Most homes also put up a Western-style decorated Christmas
tree, called nadzvis khe, in addition to the traditional Georgian
Christmas in Georgia (Natela Kratsashvili)
Christmas is the most important holiday for
Georgians. It’s the most exciting event of the
year as well. Georgians celebrate Christmas on
7th of January(new style). On this day large
processions take their way throughout the cities
as well as the villages. People sing Christmas
Carol called “Alilo” and gather sweets and
money for charity and congratulate each-other.
Most families decorate Christmas tree and
Georgian traditional “Chichilaki”, made from
branches of walnut tree. On Christmas eve,
each family light a candle and put it on the
window-sill to meet Christmas at midnight.
Most of Georgian people go to nearby churches
to attend Christmas Mass. Then families gather
together to celebrate such a wonderful day!
Merry Christmas!!! :)
Albania (Albana Eski)
On New Year’s eve all the family
getting together around the table to
celebrate.The table is usually full
with plenty of food and drinks.The
best of all is the New Year’s turkey
that is served with potatoes or
rice.As for deserst we eat Turkish
Baklava.After midnight the teens
usually go to celebrate with their
friends in a nightclub.
Italy ( Emanuela Leto)
Il Mercante in Fiera
( the Merchant at the Fair) We usually play
games with our families after the Xmas big
dinner . One of this is played using special
cards with pictures on one side. There are two
decks of identical cards, the leader of the game
chooses some cards . put them on the table on
the covered side and put money on them or
sweets , money or sweets coming from the
“buying and selling” of the cards among the
players as in a market. Then the leader extracts
the identical cards and the players owning
them have to give him . The winners are the
ones who own ,at the end of the extraction, the
hidden cards with the money on them which
are the prizes.
CHRISTMAS IN ITALY
Christmas is coming...in every town
there are different and beautiful
decorations: coloured lights and
Xmas trees are everywhere, streets,
shops, balcony… Moreover, in each
house, families do a their own crib
where will born Baby Jesus.
During Xmas time, streets and
houses smell of traditional food and
cake: pettole (little fried balls of
bread dough), cartellate (biscuits like
roses with honey) and panettone.
Merry Xmas from Massafra- Italy
Christmas Bonfires (Italy_Calabria)
by Chiara Torchia
On Christmas Eve day, all young people of each district
of my little town, gather woods to make big bonfires.
There is a sort of competition between the different
districts. All want to make the biggest bonfire!
While men prepare bonfires, women make sweet and
savory specialties to be offered to the people who at
night, after the Mass, go around in the town to admire
the bonfires, to dance and sing till next morning.
Here is a delicious sweet speciality with honey called:
Special Christmas sweets in Basilicata region in the
south of Italy
Christmas is time to prepare some
typical sweets at home. They are the
so called “cicirotti” that is fried
sweets fill in with chickpea, honey,
chocolate and cinnamon and
“strufoli” also fried sweets but
prepared with flower, eggs and
Christmas in Naples, Italy (Tonia Calò)
In the old part of Naples there is a well known
street :Via San Gregorio Armeno.Here there
are a lot of small artisan workshops producing
traditional characters of nativity scene but most
of all the most famous men and women of our
daily life in any fields (politics-religion- art-cinema
Christmas in Wales vs Sardinia
In Wales, the usual British traditions, making Christmas
pudding in October and Christmas cake a month before
Christmas, sending cards before 6th December, lots of
office parties and club parties dinners/lunches. By the time
Christmas comes, we’ve really had loads of Christmas
cheer. I think the tradition I love best is going Caroling with
friend. It’s wonderful to see children listening to you from
their windows and bringing a bit of community joy to people
who are alone most of the year. It makes it special for them
in a way and makes you feel good doing something for
others. Then the Christmas midnight mass with everyone
singing in the church, heartfelt and really letting down your
In Sardinia, my favourite tradition, the nativity scene set in
every corner of the town. The Zampognare, bagpipe
players or where I live reed music played on instruments
called ‘launeddas’. I need to hear them once a year as they
remind me of hot chestnuts around the fireplace on a cold
Christmas night with the family and lingering aromas of a
roast and spices from the Christmas sweet called ‘paisaba’
still present in the air. Best wishes from Tina
In my city, Palermo, we have a typical Xmas sweet: the
“Buccellato”, generally a ring-shaped cake made of a
pastry stuffed by dried fruits (figs, raisins, almonds, pine
and pistachio nuts) and covered by icing or powdered
sugar… many calories!!
Anyway, in addition to this and many other desserts our
tradition have brought to us, each member of my family
usually drinks a cup of chocolate on the very 25th of
December before unpacking gifts.
CHRISTMAS IN MARCHE (ITALY)
by Diana Paolucci
In my region the families join
together and have dinner. There are
typical dishes such as “cappelletti”, a
sort of handmade pasta with meat
inside, another type of pasta called
“vincisgrassi” (in the photo) and the
so called“pizza de natà” a cake with
nuts, raisins ecc.
A LIVING CRIB
Christmas in Italy
Hello from Taranto, in Italy. In my
city the families have a big dinner on
Christmas Eve; adults and children
plays with cards. Mums prepare
typical sweets called
“sannacchiudere”, with flour, oil,
wine, sugar; after they prepare small
balls and cooked it in the hot oil.
Then they put on the honey.
This is how we celebrate Christmas
in Bulgaria.( Dimitrinka Palakarska )
•On the 24 of December, before the dinner is served, the master of the
house lights the Yule log - cut trunk of oak, elm or Krusevo tree.
• The meals should be rich and includes everything that is produced in
the household as boiled corn, boiled beans, rolls, stuffed peppers with
beans or rice, dried fruits, pickles, onions, garlic, honey, walnuts and
wine. In the four corners of the room are placed nuts to illuminate the four
corners of the world.
•At midnight on Christmas Eve before Christmas, starts and the custom
- winter ritual for fertility, health and good luck(Koleduvane).On christmas
, after the church service, all of the people gather to dance, which are
generally believed to symbolize longevity. Dinner on 25 December is
much richer thanthe previous night, because it is allowed to eat meat.
•In Koleduvane are involved young men –newly married, engaged or
bachelors. The men are singing on the way to the door and into the
house. Ritual songs are performed differently depending on the place
they are and for who are they singing for. They are singing songs for
every one of the family members - from oldest to youngest. The hosts
usually give gifts like donuts , money, wine, and the ritual end with a big
feast for all of the performers.
•And last, but by no means no least, remember to wish something at
midnight on Christmas Eve before Christmas! According to legends, at
midnight the heaven opened and the wishes are coming true.
Victoria Carceller from Spain
In the region where I live, Valencia,
east of the country, there is a
tradition called “las estrenas”.
On 25th December after Christmas
lunch, the goodfathers (usually the
oncles) give the estrenas to their
goodchildren. The estrenas are a
small amount (sometimes not so
small) of money that children receive
after doing a short demonstration in
front of all the family, like singing a
song, recite a poem, say a joke ....
Victoria Carceller from Spain
After doing this , children
have to kiss their
goodfather’s hand and he
open it dropping the coins
Spanish Christmas- Presents
Just before the end of our
holidays, on the frosty
morning of the 6th of
January, we receive
presents from the Three
Kids can’t sleep that night.
Adults can’t either...
Xmas traditions in Catalonia:
the “Caga Tió” (Karol Barriuso)
Caga Tió comes out on 8th December . It is a small log
with a smiley face, wearing the traditional red Catalan
hat - the Barretina. The name Caga Tió means 'Poo
Log'. Every day until Christmas Eve, children look after
the Caga Tió. They cover him with a blanket to make
sure that he is warm and they feed him every evening
with tangerines and cookies. This is to ensure that he is
nice and full so that he will “poo” out lots of treats on
Clik here to view
a tale on the
tradition we created.
On Christmas Eve, after dinner, children are given a
stick with which they hit the Caga Tió. They sing a
"Caga Tió avellanes I torró (poo Tió, hazelnuts and
Si no vols cagar (if you don’t want to poo)
Et donanem un cop de pal” (we will hit you with a
The children then reach inside the Caga Tio's blanket
and find sweets and small toys. Similar to the sorts of
treats that children receive in their stockings from
“Els Pastorets” - “The shepherds” a traditional nativity
play from Catalonia. Fina Vendrell.
2 shepherds are the comic
characters that find the
devils and live funny
adventures before they
arrrive to Betlem to adore
the baby Jesus. Children at
school and adults in
theatres, perform this
famous Catalan tradition.
Iceland (Elin Stefansdottir)
In Iceland we back a
lot of small cakes.
Christmas customs from Poland
We love decorating our Christmas tree with home
made ginger cakes. We used to decorate it with wafer.
Christmas Eve supper is the most
elevating moment. We serve 12
The meal starts with sharing wafer
called opłatek. We break pieces
from other family members’ wafers
and wish them all the best.
Making such cribs is a special
tradition of Cracow. Every
year people make new ones.
Children are allowed not
to eat all the dishes but
are encouraged to try
them at least. Almost all
families serve carp. There
are campaigns to save
carps from suffering.
Christmas in Poland
After Wigilia, the family gathers
under the tree, choinka, to exchange
gifts and sing carols.
Shortly before midnight, the family
gets ready to go to Midnight Mass
called pasterka which means
When Jesus was born, only humble
shepherds came to adore him and to
spread the good news.
Polish traditional food for Christmas
In Poland we should eat 12 dishes for
Christmas Eve supper. The main important
dish is carp. We try to prepare it in many
different ways. We usually serve beetroot or
mushroom soup for starter. Then we eat
makiełki, these are needles with poppy, nuts
and almonds. The cabbage with mushrooms or
peas is also very important. There are also
potatoes, and special drink - kompot. It is made
of dried fruit. The dishes can vary from different
regions in Poland.
Before the supper we share a special wafer
and exchanging Christmas greetings.
Christmas traditions in Split, Croatia
In Split holiday spirit begins 06.12. at St. Nicholas Day when
children receive gifts. Gifts in boots placed overnight.
At St. Lucia 12.12. we sow wheat , which is Christmas
decoration in the house through the holidays.
On Christmas Eve they bake “fritule i kroštule”, decorate the
Christmas tree and in the evening we go to midnight mass.
All the houses and streets in the city are decorated with
Christmas is celebrated with family preparing Christmas food .
Under the Christmas tree all family members will find their gifts.
Next day 26. 12. on St. Stephen's we visiting relatives, friends
In every church make Christmas nativity scene, visited by
children all over the holidays.
Mari Jokela from Finland
As you know Santa Claus is living in Finland.
Normally Santa Claus comes to our homes on
Christmas eve, give some presents and maybe
sing a song with children. But last week I had
an unique chance to visit his real home. I think
this can happen only once in a lifetime.
I am so happy!
Traditional boiled cod fish
that we call “Bacalhau”,
with vegetables, eggs and
potatoes all boiled as well,
with garlic, pepper, olive oil
and balsamic vinegar is the
dish that we have in our
Christmas Eve (Consoada)
On Christmas Day we
used to eat roasted
turkey with roasted
potatoes and boiled
greens. We used to
drink red wine or
Rabanadas (French toasts)-1
Bolo Rei (King Cake)-2
Aletria (Angel hair)-3
Arroz doce (Sweet rice)-4
Bolinhos de abóbora -5 (Pumpkin
All these desserts take cinnamon,
lots of sugar, honey and eggs.
Christmas is a wonderful time. There is music and
lights and the houses are decorated with Mistletoe and
other appropriate items.
A pine tree is decorated and all Christmas
presents are placed underneath it.
A nativity scene is built: this is a small
recollection of Jesus’ birth, with small clay figures and
moss; this is placed under the Christmas tree.
In fact, Portuguese Christmas has been
changing a little, because of the contact with other
cultures. Nowadays, Santa Claus is the one who
“brings” the gifts to the kids and not Jesus Christ any
longer.Concerning food, my Portuguese partner has
said it all! Delicious!
Since my early childhood, I’ve collected real
moss in the forest, with my beloved ones, to built
nativity scene :) Summing up, it’ s a time of joy!
Christmas Traditions in Portugal
Christmas is a season with huge
religious values. Is all about family and
celebrating life together.
From North to South there are many
different traditions in Portugal like the
nativity scene, the christmas tree,
the presents give, the
Rooster Mass, burning the
wooden, the christmas di-nner
(with all kind of foods)!
In January, small
choirs gather in
each village and go
door by door
announce the birth
of Christ and wish everyone a Happy
New Year. They do it in exchange for
some wine, nuts, sweets or even
money (so called “Janeiras”).
Traditions in Germany
There are many traditions
in Germany around
I would like to share with
you a presentation my kids
and me prepared for an
Just click on the image :-)