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DECK THE HOLIDAY'S: 12/04/17

Monday, December 4, 2017

CHRISTMAS IN THE CZECH REPUBLIC!



 


   In the Czech Republic, preparations for Christmas begins right from around mid-November. Houses are thoroughly cleaned, carpets washed and furniture dusted. Gift shops and departmental stores are seen to be decked for the occassion. The festive spirit is apparent with buyers turning up at the stores every evening to purchase gifts, new apparels and various items of decoration. Also bought are sweets like Linzer cookies and Vanilla roll or food items such as "Vanoka", traditional Christmas loaves. These are either bought or even baked at home.
   The Advent period begins here four Sundays before Christmas Eve. During this time, a wreath is made of several evergreen branches fastened together, decorated with ribbons, pinecones and other trinkets and four candles placed around it, each representing one of the four weeks of the Advent period. Children are gifted beautiful Advent calendars to count the days to December 25. Every day they open one of the 24 small windows in it and find a small reward, usually a piece of chocolate, behind each of them.





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Some dinner foods from the Czech Republic
 
 
 
 

   A well known custom observed here is "Barborky" that is practiced on the feast day of St. Barbora. On every 4th of December, young girls of marriageable age cut off a twig from a cherry tree and put it in water. If it blooms by Christmas Eve, the girl is believed to get married sometime during the coming year.
In the final days to December 25th, gifts and greetings are sent out to friends and family members. Every individual home is decorated as beautifully as possible. The Christmas tree is indisensable to the Czech Christmas decorations. Fruits such as red apples and nuts, straw crafts and glass decorations are traditionally used to adorn these trees. Christmas trees are set up, either on December 23rd or 24th, in individual homes and even in public squares in Czech towns and cities. The Christmas tree on Prague’s Old Town Square is very popular and a tourist attraction during the season. Christmas trees,





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Some holiday treats from the Czech Republic
 
 
 
 


whether in Czech homes or public spots, are taken down usually before January 6th, the Day of Epiphany. Setting up the manger is also an important part of Czech Christmas and one of the oldest traditions here. Throughout the republic, the Nativity Scene is created in varying sizes and from various materials like wood, paper, ceramics, gingerbread and the like. The Baby Jesus, surrounded by Mary and Joseph, form the focus of the manger scene.
   The Christmas season in the Czech Republic begins with the feast and the visit of St. Nicholas or Svaty Mikalas on December 6th. The feast of St. Nicholas (or Svaty Mikalas) is enthusiastically celebrated here. During the evening of the 5th December, children watch the sky for any sign of St. Nicholas.
    Czechs believe that Svaty Mikalas climbs down to earth from the heaven using a golden rope and carrying two sacks - a sack filled with presents for good children and a sack filled with sticks for kids who behave badly throughout the year. On the eve of the feast day, December 5th, children hang a stocking in their windows to be filled by St. Nicholas at night. On St. Nicholas' day, children wake up to recieve their presents. But they get their main presents only on Christmas eve evening.








 

On Christmas Eve (December 24th) families gather at home to decorate the Christmas tree and prepare dinner. Many people, especially the devout ones, fast all day long on Christmas Eve and break it with a grand meal in the evening, when the first star emerges in the night sky. All relatives and friends are invited to the Christmas dinner. Fish soup and fried carp with potato salad form the main menu of a traditional Christmas Eve dinner. It is considered unlucky to get up from the table before everyone is finished. Also, the table is always set for an even number of guests in the belief that it would bring bad luck if done otherwise. Presents are exchanged after dinner and often, fortunes are told. At midnight, people attend Holy Mass, known as "Pasterka".
   On December 25th (Christmas Day), the churches in Czechoslovakia are adorned with evergreens and Christmas Trees. The festivities last for three days. Czechs traditionally have a cod roe soup on this day and tempt each other with tales of a mythical golden pig. Everyone wishes each other 'Prejeme Vam Vesele Vanoce' (Merry Christmas) on this day.

CHRISTMAS IN FINLAND!


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   In Finland, Christmas is celebrated from 24th to 26th of December. Preparations for the festival begin from approximately a month ago with many Finnish people buying the Christmas tree, decorative items and gifts and goodies for the season. Houses are cleaned and special treats like gingerbread cookies and prune tarts prepared for the oncoming festive season.  In Finland, Santa might also be known as Joulupukki!
   The first Sunday in December (also called the First Advent) starts the Finnish Christmas season. Christmas lights begin to appear in the stores along with gifts, goods and goodies for the festival. Children count the days to the festival making their own Christmas calendar with some great pictures related to the Christmas theme or even some chocolate caramel.







 

   In Finland the Christmas tree is set up on Christmas Eve. Fir trees are felled, tied onto sleds, and taken home to be decorated beautifully with candies, paper flags, cotton, tinsel, apples and other fruits. Candles are used for lighting the trees. Many women make a visit to some local sauna to groom themselves for the occassion.
   Christmas here is replete with different homegrown customs. In Finnish rural areas, it is a popular tradition for farmers to tie a sheaf of grain, nuts and seeds on a pole and placing it in the garden for the birds to feed on. Only after birds eat their dinner, the farmers partake of their Christmas dinner.






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   Christmas dinner traditionally begins in Finland with the appearance of the first star in the sky. Dinner is served between 5-7 pm, and consists usually of roasted pig or a roasted ham and vegetables. The main dish is boiled codfish, served white and fluffy, along with allspice, boiled potatoes, and cream sauce. A week ahead of the dinner, the codfish is soaked in a lye solution to soften it. Once the dinner is complete, children head straight to bed while adults chat and drink coffee until about midnight. Other important traditions of the day consist of a visit to the Christmas mass. Many Finnish families also visit cemeteries to remember the dead and have porridge for lunch. Joyful carols and local Christmas songs also form an essential part of Christmas Eve festivities.






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   On Christmas Day, church services start out early at six in the morning. Most people visit families and friends. Family get-togethers are the high point of this day. Christmas cards are being exchanged and everyone wishes another "Hyvaa Joulua", meaning "Merry Christmas" in Finnish.

DECEMBER HOLIDAYS AND OBSERVANCES!










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Besides all the popular winter holidays, there are lots of other reasons to celebrate throughout the month of December. Check them out.




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December 1: Special Kids Day - If you have any special kids in your life, make this a day for them to remember.

December 2: International Day for the Abolition of Slavery - You may have thought that slavery was abolished long ago, but it still goes on.

December 3: International Day of Disabled Persons - Spend the day like a disabled person would. I bet you will appreciate everything you are able to do that other people might not be able to.

December 4: National Cookie Day - What else would you do on National Cookie Day?





December 5: Bathtub Party Day - A party in the bathtub? That just sounds wrong.

December 6: St. Nicholas Day - It's like having a Christmas before Christmas.

December 7: National Cotton Candy Day - Try to not get sick from eating too much sugar.

December 8: Wild Card - Believe it or not, there are no holidays (that I know of) on the 8th. Make up your own holiday.

December 9: Weary Willie Day - Take a nap. It will make you feel better.





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December 10: Human Rights Day - Exercise all your rights today.

December 11: UNICEF Birthday - Don't forget to throw a party with balloons and everything.

December 12: Poinsettia Day - Decorate the house in poinsettias (but if you have pets keep them all up high!).

December 13: Wild Card - Make up another holiday.

December 14: Wild Card - And another...







 

December 15: Cat Herders Day - I've heard of cattle herding and sheep herding...but never cat herding. Why not give it a try, and see how it goes?

December 16: National Chocolate-Covered Anything Day - Of all the chocolate holidays throughout the year, this one's my favorite. I mean, you can cover anything in chocolate.

December 17: Wright Brothers Day - Hold a party for them. Who cares if they don't attend? A party's a party.

December 18: International Migrants Day - Write a thousand word essay about the effect of the increasing number of migrants in the world.

December 19: Day for South-South Cooperation - No, I didn't stutter.





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December 20: Mudd Day - Have a mud--er--mudd fight.

December 21: Humbug Day - This is the one day each year you have a reason to go around telling everyone, "Bah, humbug!"

December 22: National Haiku Poetry Day - Speak in haiku all day. Five syllables, then seven, then five more.

December 23: Festivus - It's like a festival that anyone can attend.

December 24: Christmas Eve - Of course, you know what Christmas Eve is. No? It's the day before Christmas, silly.








December 25: A'phabet Day (No 'L' Day) - Not only is December 25 Christmas Day, but it's A'phabet Day. No 'L's allowed. Remove them from your vocabu'ary, p'ease.

December 26: National Whiners Day - It's okay to whine. In fact, it's encouraged on National Whiners Day.

December 27: Wild Card - Finally...you need to get one more wild card in before the year is over. Make this one special.

December 28: National Chocolate Day - Eat some chocolate...but it doesn't end here. National Chocolate Day goes on into the 29th, as well.

December 29: National Chocolate Day - Eat some more chocolate.







 


December 30: Falling Needles Family Fest Day - Let the dried up needles fall off the tree, then dance around it. Barefoot.

December 31: Make up Your Mind Day - Is it--wait. No, maybe not. Yep, I guess it's my birthday, after all.