THREE SAINTS FOR THE PRICE OF ONE - SWITZERLAND
Switzerland is another country with several traditions and languages.
So it is not surprising there are several different St. Nicholas traditions.
In German-speaking areas Saint Nicholas is known as Samichlaus and he rides upon a white horse and is followed by the wicked Ruprecht.
In the French-speaking area Saint Nicolas is known as Père noel and he leads a donkey carrying baskets full of gifts and he is followed by the sound of Père Fouettard's chains.
In the Italian quarter the tradition is much more reverent when they celebrate the arrival of St Nicholas’s relics in the Italian city of Bari in the year 1087.
But all the celebrations have in common the great color music and excitement generated by the enthusiastic revelers.
WHAT WOULD SANTA LIKE FOR CHRISTMAS?
The Hollywood child star Shirley Temple stopped believing in Santa Claus when she was six because the Department store Santa asked for her autograph in a shopping center.
CHRISTMAS FOLKLORE – LA BEFANA
The three wise men stopped at La Befana’s house on route to Bethlehem.
After dining with her, she was invited to travel with them on their search for the Christ child but she declined on some flimsy presence.
After a while she regretted her action and gathering up some things from her home to give to the Christ child she set off after them.
But alas, she was unable to find either the wise men or the baby Jesus.
La Befana has been searching ever since and every January 5th the kindly witch rides her broomstick down the chimneys of Italian homes to fill the stockings of lucky children with sweets and candy.
CHRISTMAS FOLKLORE - BLACK PETER
In Holland, sinter Klaas has a faithful servant called black peter who rides on the sleigh and its Peter’s job to throw the children’s presents down the chimney.
In addition it is black peter that doles out the punishment to the naughty children by wrapping the offenders in bags and delivering them to Spain.
CHRISTMAS FOLKLORE – THE JOLLY ELF
In Finland Santa is a kind and jolly elf called Joulupukki and he doesn’t drive a sleigh but He rides a straw goat called Ukko.
The Scandinavians call the jolly elf Jultomten who is thought to deliver gifts in a sleigh drawn by goats.
CHRISTMAS IN RUSSIA
During the days of the Soviet Union, the people were not free to practice their religion or to celebrate Christmas so it was the New Year which was the most important time when 'Father Frost' brought presents to children.
With the breakup of the Soviet Union the Communist regime fell and religious freedom abounded and Christmas was once again openly celebrated but not on December 25th but on January 7th which is Christmas Day for the Russian Orthodox church, who use the old 'Julian' calendar for all holy days.
CHRISTMAS FOLKLORE – CHRISTKIND
Christ kind or Christ Child is an angel-like figure who often accompanied St. Nicholas on his holiday missions and Kris Kringle is believed to deliver presents to well-behaved Swiss and German children.
CHRISTMAS FOLKLORE – FILLING THE SHOE’S
In France Père Noel is responsible for filling the shoes of French children with gifts.
While in Spain the children place their shoes under the tree on the night of January 5th and the next morning they find they have been filled with gifts by the three kings.
The luckiest children of Spain receive small presents from papa noel on Christmas Eve as well.
A NATIVITY FACT
Traditionally in the nativity scene there is almost always a donkey or an ass depicted.
However in the gospels telling of Christ’s birth they are not mentioned.
But as Jesus was born in a stable and lain in a manger it would seem logical to conclude that some animals where present.
OUR GOOSE IS COOKED
By all accounts the eating of Goose at Christmas as part of the festivities came about because on Christmas Eve 1588 queen Elizabeth I was dining on Goose at Greenwich palace when the long awaited news reached her that the Spanish Armada had been defeated.
Relieved and delighted she decreed that roast goose should be served at Christmas to mark the historic event.
It was her father Henry VIII who is widely regarded to be the first person known to eat Turkey on Christmas day.