Archive for the ‘Christmas Around the World’ Category

History of Christmas Traditions

February 25, 2017

My friends at Tree Classics shared this History of Christmas Traditions with me so I thought I would share it with you.  Thank you, Tree Classics!  I bet there is something here that you did not know.  Now I wonder what Michelangelo used to sculpt his snowman.

treeclassics-infographic-final-v2

For more Christmas tradition history visit Tree Classics’ blog.

Please share some of your Christmas traditions in the comments below.

Christmas blessings!

Christmas in Brazil

July 28, 2016

brazil_treeThose who would love to spend Christmas on Christmas Island might enjoy spending Christmas in Brazil.  Temperatures range from 70 degrees Fahrenheit to 100 degrees Fahrenheit.  A Brazilian Christmas, a blend of Portuguese, African, and Indian customs, is a holy time of remembering the birth of Christ celebrated with close friends and family. 

Papai Noel:  Although pictured as doing so Santa Claus, or Papai Noel as Brazilians know him, does not travel by sleigh and reindeer.  Instead he travels by helicopter.  In early December thousands of children fill Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro waiting for the arrival of Papai Noel.  The helicopter lands; Papai Noel steps out, and the children flood the field.  He greets the children shaking their hands and giving them small toys, such as balloons, water pistols, whistles, and more, as gifts.  After the gift-giving Papai Noel steps to a microphone on stage and leads everyone in a sing-a-long.  Local singers and musicians accompany the throng as they sing Christmas carols and other popular songs.

Children in Brazil do not hang stockings for Papai Noel to fill on Christmas Eve.  Instead, in northern Brazil, children put their shoes by the tree, by their bed, or near a window to be filled with all sorts of small toys and goodies by Papai Noel when he arrives later that night after the children are asleep.

Papai Noel personally visits the children in the southern regions of Brazil earlier in the evening on Christmas Eve.  He takes time to talk to each child before giving presents to the child.  Often Papai Noel is a relative, a friend of the family, or a co-worker.

Presepios:  With the vast majority of Brazilians being a religious people it is not surprising that every church and nearly every home puts up a presepio or nativity scene.

Many churches display life-sized versions of the presepio including life-sized animals.  Among those animals is sure to appear a rooster to remind parishioners of the Missa do Galo (Mass of the Rooster).  Some church presepios are so elaborate that non-church-goers go to church to see them.

Home presepios may be set up in early December; others are not set up until Christmas Eve day.  Some are small fitting on a coffee table; others fill a whole room.  Some are simple; others are abundant.  Whether large or small, many include pieces that have been handed down for generations.

Most home presepios include the Mary, Joseph, Jesus, the three magi, angels, a star, cows, chickens, sheep, and a rooster.  One of the peculiarities of these home presepios is the figures may not be the same scale.  It is not uncommon for Jesus to be larger than some of the other figures.  Another peculiarity comes in the personal touches.  One may see Brazilian animals, Brazilian fruits, airplanes, trains, and other “impossible” figures included in family presepios.

Christmas cards:  Usually people try to send their Christmas cards so the recipients get them before Christmas; but in Brazil, people think nothing of sending their cards after Christmas.  Many cards arrive at their destinations between December 25 and January 6.

Most cards have the traditional wintery scenes showing lots of snow, Santa Claus and his reindeer, Christmas trees covered in snow, and children wrapped in heavy, warm winter clothing.  However, more cards are appearing showing traditional Brazilian weather and scenes of sandy beaches, palm trees, Christmas trees, and, more importantly, no snow.


Look for more about Christmas in Brazil at CustomsOfChristmas.com.

Joy To The World

June 27, 2016

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven, and heaven, and nature sing.

In the days of Isaac Watts, the author of this hymn, there was in England extreme prejudice against newly-composed hymns.  Congregations were strictly devoted to singing the Psalms in worship.  So Watts reworked certain Psalms in freer and more spontaneous versions.  In 1719, he published Psalms of David, Imitated in the Language of the New Testament, creating a new style of church music.

“Joy to the World” is based on Psalm 98, which tells of the Messiah’s coming and kingdom.  The reader may be able to see Watts’s first stanza in Psalm 98:2-3—and the arrival of a victorious King.  The second stanza is drawn from verses 4-8—through the praise of all creation.  The fourth stanza is seen in verse 9 –God’s righteous and loving reign.

Watts strayed a little from Psalm 98 when he wrote the third stanza to this hymn—“No more let sins and sorrows grow/Nor thorns infest the ground.”  This seems to be a direct command from the divine King Himself.  Then Watts returns to the psalm, imitating the last sentence in verse 3—“He comes to make His blessings flow/Far as the curse is found.”

Set to a tune by the greatest of all English composers, George Friedrich Handel, “Joy to the World” can powerfully fill the heart with the joy of Christ’s coming, especially when sung standing with a congregation on Christmas Eve!

– From the book The Carols We Love by Daniel Partner, Published by Barbour Publishing, Inc


Heavenly Mix

Ingredients

2 cups butter
2 cups white sugar
2 cups corn syrup
1 (17.5 ounce) package crispy corn and rice square cereal
1 (17.5 ounce) package crispy rice cereal squares
1 1/2 cups sliced almonds
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut

Directions

  1. In a large bowl or disposable roasting pan, toss together the corn and rice cereal, rice cereal, almonds and coconut.
  2. Combine the butter, sugar and corn syrup in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Once boiling, continue to cook for 3 minutes. Pour over the cereals, using a large wooden spoon to stir the mixture until evenly coated. Spread out on a cookie sheet to cool. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Christmas in Ireland

May 25, 2016

irish-christmas-cakeChristmas in Ireland, with all its religious overtones, is a time for family.  The religious nature of an Irish Christmas begins with Advent.  Starting four Sundays before Christmas Advent is a time to ponder the birth of Christ and get ready for the celebration of His birth.  It is a time for confession of sins and for expressing sorrow for wrongdoing.  One must be holy when expecting a holy Visitor.

Much must be done to prepare for Christmas.  Houses must have a thorough cleaning.  The grounds and all out-buildings get a good tidying also.  Christmas cards are sent to neighbors, friends, and family members.  Most of these cards have religious themes but Santa Claus, reindeer, and snowy landscapes may also be seen.

Christmas trees did not become a regular part of Christmas decorating until the 1960s.  Some people put their trees up the first week of December while others wait until Christmas Eve.  Electric lights, tinsel and a variety of purchased and homemade ornaments adorn each tree.

Even churches get in the spirit of the season by decorating the pillars and the altar with garlands of holly leaves.  A nativity scene is also part of every church’s display usually found near the altar, in the back of the church, or outside in front of the church.

On Christmas Eve and Christmas Eve day final preparations are made for the Christmas celebration.  As expected, unmarried children, no matter their age or how far away they live, arrive at their parents’ house.  Most, if not all, Christmas shopping is done; but many shops stay open later than normal for those last-minute shoppers.  The house fills with glorious odors as food preparation begins in earnest.  The family goes through the house giving it a final tidying before the celebration begins.  Some of the more religious families fast on Christmas Eve until dinner when a simple meal of fish and potatoes is served.

Many families wait until Christmas Eve to put up their Christmas tree.  Candles are placed in the windows.  For many the Christmas season is about to begin, with the lighting of the candles.  Traditionally the main candle is lit by either the youngest child in the family or a daughter named Mary.  Some children hang their stockings before the family goes to Midnight Mass; others wait until after mass.  After returning from mass the children go to bed.  After the children fall asleep the parents place the children’s gifts under the tree or around the room often arranged in piles on chairs with the child’s name on the chair.

Christmas morning children awaken and rush to see what Santa Claus has left for them.  Most gifts are practical, but as Irish affluence increases the gifts become less practical.  Some who did not go to Midnight Mass, and some who did, attend “First Light” Mass at either 6:00 AM or 8:00 AM.  After mass the men and boys enjoy games of hurling (a game similar to field hockey), Gaelic football (a game like soccer), shooting competitions, and hunting rabbits with greyhounds.

The women prepare the Christmas feast and deliver gift baskets to less fortunate neighbors filled with the ingredients for a “proper” Christmas dinner.  The Christmas table is covered with a linen or lace tablecloth and set with the best china, polished silver, and cut-glass stemware.  The traditional Christmas dinner may consists of roast goose or turkey (often served with ham) stuffed potatoes heavily seasoned with black pepper, mashed or roasted potatoes with gravy, and one or two vegetable dishes.  Desserts may include Christmas cake, Christmas puddings such as bread pudding or plum pudding, mincemeat pies or tarts, sherry trifle, soda scones, fairy cake, and cookies.

After the Christmas feast families stay home relaxing, talking, singing and playing musical instruments, and telling stories.  Irish history was once passed from one generation to the next via stories told at family gatherings like Christmas.  Therefore, it is not surprising that some of these stories are of family ancestry, the famine, Irish heroes and villains, the countryside, as well as the Nativity.

Nollaig Shona Duit  (Merry Christmas!)

For more information about the Irish Christmas season visit CustomsOfChristmas.com.

Christmas Recipes from Ireland

February 25, 2016

I have been doing some reading on Christmas traditions from Ireland.  Here are some recipes that may be used in many Irish Christmas dinners.  Enjoy!

Christmas Roast Turkey with Sage and Onion Stuffing Recipe

Remove the turkey from the fridge several hours before cooking as it must be at room temperature before cooking to prevent the turkey drying out in the oven.

Ingredients

  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1lb/450g pork sausage meat
  • 2 level tbsp fresh sage, finely chopped
  • 2 level tbsp flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 oz/25g fresh white breadcrumbs
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 14lb/6.3kg oven-ready turkey
  • 4oz/110g soft butter
  • 8oz/225g streaky bacon, thinly sliced
  • 1¼ pints/1 liter poultry stock
  • 2 tbsp all purpose/plain flour
  • ¼ pint/150 ml Port
  • 2 tbsp redcurrant jelly
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 280 minutes
  • Total Time: 325 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 8

Preparation

Heat the oven to 220°C/425°F/Gas 7

  • Prepare the stuffing: In a large bowl mix together the onion, pork sausage meat, herbs, breadcrumbs and a pinch of salt and pepper.
  • Slip your fingers under the skin at the neck end and loosen to create a cavity over the breast. Stuff the neck end with the onion and sage stuffing up to the breast. Tuck the loose skin underneath and secure with a fine metal skewer.
  • Smear the soft butter evenly over the breast and legs of the turkey. Lay thin slices of bacon neatly across the breast and top surface of the legs. Sprinkle the whole turkey liberally with salt and pepper.
  • Lay two large sheets of aluminum foil over a roasting tin large enough to hold the bird. Place the bird back down and fold the foil loosely over the bird leaving a roomy gap between the bird and the foil to allow steam to escape.
  • Roast in the preheated oven for 40 minutes then lower the temperature to 325°F/160°C/Gas 3 and cook for 3½ hours basting from time to time.
  • Remove the turkey from the oven, raise the temperature to 220°C/425°F/Gas 7. Fold back the foil on the turkey, remove the bacon and pour any juices into a jug or bowl. Return the turkey to the oven and cook for a further 30 mins to crisp the skin.
  • Remove from the oven and check the temperature with a meat thermometer placed into the thickest past of the thigh, the turkey is cooked if the temperature is 175°F/80°C. If you don’t have a thermometer the turkey is cooked if the juices run clear when the thickest part of the thigh is pierced with a small sharp knife. If the juices are pink return to the oven and cook until they run clear. When cooked, leave the turkey to rest for 30 minutes wrapped loosely with fresh foil before carving. Meanwhile make the gravy.
  • Pour all the juices from the roasting tin into the bowl or jug with the juices saved from the foil. Spoon off all the fat which will float to the surface and discard. Place the roasting tin on a high heat on the stove top, add the flour and stir to scrape up all the sediment from the tin. Cook for one minute. Pour in the port and stir well then add the stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the turkey juices, bring back to the boil and cook for a further 3 minutes. Add the redcurrant jelly stir until dissolved then strain into a gravy boat or serving jug.

Irish Christmas Cake

Ingredients
* 2 c. butter
* 2 c. sugar
* 8 well-beaten large eggs
* 1/2 c. brandy, optional
* 1 tbsp. rose water, optional
* 1 tsp orange extract
* 4 c. flour
* 2 tsp ground allspice
* 1 tsp salt
* 1/2 c. ground almonds
* 3/4 c. whole almonds
* 1 pkt (15-ounce.) raisins
* 3 c. currants
* 3/4 c. candied cherries
* 1/4 c. minced lemon peel
* 1/2 c. minced orange peel (candied peels)

Directions
* Cream butter and sugar; add in Large eggs, brandy, rose water and orange extract and beat till fluffy. Sift flour, all spice and salt. Stir in ground almonds and stir flour mix into creamed mix. Stir in whole almonds, fruits and peels. Grease a 19-inch springform (tube-type) pan and place on baking sheet. Pour batter into pan and bake at 300 degrees for 2 to 2 1/2 hrs.

* Cold in pan on rack. Remove sides from pan and cold cake on rack. Frost with almond paste as follows. Place of an 8-ounce. can of almond paste in layers of waxed paper and roll to 1/8- inch thick. Press pcs against side of half the cake, repeat with second half of can. Roll another 8-ounce. can of almond paste to a 10-inch circle, 1/8-inch thick, cut center away and place circle on top of cake. pat sides and top together. Finally, frost with Royal Icing. Make icing by combining 2 egg whites at room temperature, a lb. package of powdered sugar,1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar and 1 teaspoon vanilla in a small mixer bowl. Beat till very stiff.  Frost cake immediately because frosting gets very hard. Wrap cake well in tightly covered wrapping or possibly in container.

View this recipe online at http://cookeatshare.com/recipes/irish-christmas-cake-306703?ref=mail

Merry Christmas!

December 24, 2015

Luke 2  (NKJV)nativity scene

1And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.

Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:

14 “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. 17 Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. 18 And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.

Matthew 2   (NKJV)

1Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”

When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.

So they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet:

‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, Are not the least among the rulers of Judah; For out of you shall come a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.’”

Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also.”

When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. 11 And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

 

May you all have a blessed and merry Christmas and a prosperous new year.

4 More Holiday Diabetic Recipes

October 25, 2015

I had enough likes and comments on Facebook and here on my blog regarding my last post of diabetic recipes for Christmas that I decided to do it again.  This month I am posting a recipe for a Brunch Pizza, a fruit recipe for Baked Apples with Raisins, and two Christmas bread recipes, Swedish Tea Log and Greek Christmas Bread.

Merry Christmas and happy eating!

Brunch Pizza

(Serves 6)

Pizza crust, prepared or homemade
½ lb boiled ham, sliced
8 oz part skim mozzarella cheese, grated
2 eggs
¼ cup lowfat milk
Pinch of dried oregano

Pat the pizza dough out on a 13- by 9-inch pan, baking sheet, or round pizza pan.  Cut the ham into strips and put them on the dough.  Sprinkle on the cheese.  Combine the eggs and milk in a bowl and beat to blend.  Pour the eggs over the dough and sprinkle on the oregano.  Bake in a 375-degree oven for 20 to 30 minutes.

Baked Apples with Raisins

(Serves 2)

2 apples
Orange juice
1 Tbsp dark or golden raisins
Pinch of ground cinnamon

Peel and core the apples.  Coat with the orange juice on the outer surface.  Stuff with the raisins.  Sprinkle on the cinnamon.  Place in Pyrex baking cups.  Bake in a 350-degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until fork pierces surface easily.  Serve warm or cold.

Swedish Tea Log

(Serves 16)

1 package (or 1 Tbsp) active dry yeast
¼ cup warm water (110 to 115 degrees)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp sugar
¼ tsp salt
½ cup margarine
¼ cup evaporated lowfat milk
1 egg
½ cup dark or golden raisins
Unsweetened applesauce
Ground cinnamon and nutmeg
Apple slices
Frozen orange juice concentrate

Soften the yeast in the water.  Combine the flours, sugar, and salt in a mixing bowl.  Cut in the margarine until the mixture resembles crumbs.  Add the milk, egg, raisins, and softened yeast and mix well.  Cover and chill for 3 hours or overnight.

Divide the dough in half.  Roll out half on a floured surface to a 12- by 6-inch rectangle.  Spread with ¼ cup applesauce.  Sprinkle on cinnamon and nutmeg.  Roll up and shape into a crescent on a lightly greased baking sheet.  Make cuts along the outside edge about 1 inch apart and to within ½ inch of center.  Then turn each cut at an angle to expose the interior of the roll.  Top each cut with a thin slice of apple.  Repeat with the remaining dough.  Let rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes.  Bake in a 350-degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown.  Glaze with the orange juice concentrate while still warm.

Greek Christmas Bread

(Serves 15)

1 package (or 1 Tbsp) active dry yeast
¼ cup warm water (110 to 115 degrees)
1/3 cup sugar 1 tsp ground cardamom
¼ tsp salt
1 egg
¼ cup milk
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup golden raisins
¼ cup chopped walnuts

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water.  Combine the sugar, cardamom, salt, egg, milk, and oil in a large bowl.  Mix well.  Add the yeast mixture, flours, raisins, and nuts.  Mix well.  Add enough extra flour to make soft dough.  Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.  Shape into a round loaf.

Put the dough into a lightly oiled 8-inch-round cake pan.  Cover with a damp towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.  Bake in a 350-degree oven 35 to 40 minutes, or until brown.

First and Second Christmas Day in the Netherlands

August 24, 2015

On Christmas morning in the Netherlandsoliebollen many families attend church services especially if they did not attend the previous night.  After church services they return home for Koffietafel, coffee table, an elaborate brunch consisting of such things as smoked salmon or pate and Kerstkrans (a pastry similar to Banketletter shaped like a large wreath decorated with lemon icing, candied fruit, holly, and a red bow).  Families in most areas do not exchange gifts on Christmas day; but for those families who do, especially in the southern regions, Father Christmas brings the gifts.

Because Christmas day is a holiday of family togetherness, many families will either visit the homes of family and friends or entertain family and friends at their homes.  They will talk, play board games, listen to the radio or other recordings, watch television, attend concerts or ballets, and sing and play Christmas carols.  Throughout the day they will snack on Kerstbrood, a sweet bread filled with raisins, currants, and candied fruit peel then dusted with powdered sugar.  If the weather is cold enough during the month of December the family will go to the rivers and canals to enjoy some ice skating.

At approximately 7:00 P.M. Christmas dinner is served.  Poinsettias, holly, fresh flowers, and other Christmas greenery may decorate the table.  In many families either the youngest person or the oldest person at the table reads the Christmas story from the Bible before the meal begins.  The meal may begin with Bitterballen (small croquettes of finely minced veal or beef in an herb-laced gelatin), cocktail meatballs, Zoute Bolletjes or salted bullets (salty dabs of pastry baked to a fine crunch), Groentensoep (vegetable soup), Erwtensoep (pea soup) sometimes served with little fried meatballs, Mossel-Rijstschotel (and Indonesian-style casserole of mussels over cream-smothered rice), Haringsla (herring salad), and Matjes (salted herring).

The main course may consist of rolled beef, roast hare, roast goose, or roast venison.  Turkey is gaining popularity on the Christmas table.  Pureed potatoes seasoned with a variety of spices is also a popular item.  In many homes the Christmas dinner is served using a table-top grill.  Each guest cooks their own bite-sized pieces of meat and vegetables as they eat.  Popular Christmas desserts in the Netherlands are Bessensappudding (tart currant pudding), cookies, and chocolates.

The people of the Netherlands also celebrate Second Christmas Day, December 26.  This is a day to reach out to friends and do things outside the home.  Many people attend performances both professional and amateur at churches, concert halls, and auditoriums.  These performances may be choral, instrumental, or theatrical in nature.  Churches and schools offer choral presentations and Christmas plays often depicting the story of the Nativity.  Families living in and around Rotterdam may attend the Ahoy Kerstcircus (Christmas circus) featuring a live band, aerial acts, animal acts, and clowns.  This circus has performed annually since 1917.

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Oliebollen  (I would love to try these.  They sound good.)

SERVINGS 36

PREP TIME 20 mins  

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped apple (optional)
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup cooking oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Cooking oil for deep-fat frying
  • Sifted powdered sugar

Directions

1.  In a large bowl, stir together flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt; stir in the raisins and, if you like, apple. Make a well in the center. Combine eggs, milk, the 1/4 cup cooking oil, and the vanilla; add to flour mixture. Mix thoroughly.

2.  In a large saucepan or deep-fat fryer, drop by tablespoons, 3 or 4 at a time, into deep, hot oil (365 degree F). Cook about 3 minutes or until golden, turning once. With a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Makes about 36.

 

Christmas Customs in the Netherlands

July 25, 2015

St Nicholas Parade with St Nicholas and Black PeteThe Christmas season in the Netherlands begins in mid-November when St. Nicholas arrives with his companion Black Pete. They travel from Spain, where, according to the Dutch, St. Nicholas lives, to the Netherlands by steamship. Each year they choose a different city to visit. St. Nicholas and Pete disembark to a large parade put on by the city with floats, bands, and balloons. The parade is broadcast on television to the whole nation. At the end of the parade St. Nicholas addresses all the children at the parade and watching on television letting them know what he expects of them.

Each night between St. Nicholas’s arrival and the eve of his day, December 5, children leave their shoes by the fireplace, or a window, or a door hoping Pete and the saint stops by to leave some treats. He usually visits at least once before his day and sometimes more than once. The main gifts for the children, St. Nicholas brings on December 5.

More Dutch Christmas customs will be presented next month. Like many places throughout the world the Dutch have special recipes they bring out for St. Nicholas Day and Christmas Day. Below is a recipe for snowball cookies.

Sneeuwballen (snowballs)

½ cup water
¼ cup unsalted butter
1/8 tsp salt
¼ tsp sugar
½ cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
2 Tbsp dried currants or raisins
2 Tbsp diced candied fruits or peels
oil for deep frying

  1. Combine water, butter, salt, and sugar in a small, deep saucepan and bring to a boil.  Boil gently until all the ingredients have melted.  Remove from the heat.  Add the flour all at once and mix rapidly with a wooden spoon to a smooth paste.
  2. Add eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition.  Add currants or raisins and candied fruits.
  3. Heat oil to 375 degrees F and, with a metal spoon that should be dipped in the hot oil, drop the dough by spoonfuls into the oil.  Fry 5-8 minutes or until puffed up and golden brown.
  4. Drain on paper towels and dust with powdered sugar.

Yield: 8 large or 16 small snowballs

Christmas in Mexico

February 24, 2015

Las Posada lead by children dressed as Mary and Joseph.The Christmas season in Mexico lasts about two months and is filled with traditions that have lasted, in some cases, for nearly five hundred years.

Christmas was brought to Mexico by Catholic missionaries who brought the Christian faith to the natives of Mexico after it was discovered by Spanish explorers in the 16th century.  In 1538 Fray Pedro de Gante invited all the Indians within twenty leagues of Mexico City to attend the first Christmas celebration.  These Christmas masses and the parties and feasting that surrounded the celebration became so popular that Fray Diego de Soria in 1587 received permission to hold the Christmas masses out of doors.  These outdoor Christmas masses were held nightly from December 16 to 24.  As time went on the natives of that area added their own touches to the Christmas celebrations and art to make Mexico’s Christmas celebration what it is today.

On or around December 16 families all over Mexico put up their nacimientos or nativity scenes.  This is also the first of nine nights of posadas.  The last night of posadas followed by a special midnight Mass occurs on December 24.  After Mass finishes on the 25th of December families return home to a Christmas feast of turkey, tortillas, fried peppers, vegetables, fruits, candies, hot chocolate with vanilla and cinnamon, and a Christmas salad of fruit, nuts, beets, and sugar cane sprinkled with tiny colored candies.  Other food items may be served as well or in place of these items as desired by the family.  Children may get small gifts at this time, but they usually do not receive gifts until January 6.  December 28 is El Dia de los Inocentes or Day of the Innocents.  On this day children play tricks on their friends much like children do in the United States on April Fool’s Day.  The people of Mexico welcome the new year with parties, fireworks, and lots of noise, games, and food.  January 6 is El Dia de los Reys, the Day of the Three Kings or Epiphany.  Children receive their gifts from the Magi, not Santa Claus, on this day.  During the parties and feasting on this day a cake called La Rosca de Reyes or King’s Ring Cake is served.  Baked in this cake is a small Christ Child doll.  The finder of this doll has to host a party on February 2.  February 2 is the last day of the Christmas season.  Known as El Dis de la Candelaria or Candlemas, the day is filled with huge fireworks and partying.  Each family takes the Christ Child from their nacimiento to the priest to be blessed before packing the nacimiento away for another year.

Read more about Christmas in Mexico including some very unique customs here at CustomsOfChristmas.com.


As we are now in the middle of the Easter season visit our sister site CustomsOfEaster.com to explore the origins of many of our customs of Easter.

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