Christmas is a time for traditions. Whether it’s the family decorating the tree, hanging stockings on the fireplace, excitedly anticipating the arrival of Father Christmas and his reindeer or simply over-indulging on the mince pies and Christmas pud, for many the festive season is much anticipated!
At the most wonderful time of the year, we ask members of the Education Team about Christmas in different parts of the world.
How is Christmas celebrated in Poland?
While here in the UK the height of the Christmas festivities take place on 25th December, in Poland it’s all about Christmas Eve.
After breakfast, families will fast until the first star is spotted in the sky in remembrance of the Star of Bethlehem, before having their evening meal. An all important part of the celebrations is the family supper which includes 12 traditional Polish dishes and gives luck for the next 12 months. In contrast to the traditional turkey dinner, the Polish meal is centred around fish, served alongside cabbage, mushrooms and ravioli dishes.
In some families, straw is put on the floor or under the table cloth, as a reminder of where Jesus was born.
Tell us about Christmas in Italy
Throughout Italy, Natale is centred around family and food, but customs differ across the regions. As a proud Italian with family from both the North and South of the country, the contrasting ways of celebrating Christmas time are combined in my family, so I get to enjoy the best of both worlds!
In the South the main celebrations take place on 24th December with a late evening meal before going to midnight mass, whereas in the North families will have a lunch on Christmas day which can last for hours.
In true Italian style, the food is an essential part of the festivities. According to tradition, the meal for Christmas Eve includes fish and vegetables and on Christmas day you can indulge and enjoy a meat option with plenty of pasta.
In the UK many have heard of the traditional Italian panettone, but another Italian treat is pandoro (literally golden bread) which is a star-shaped sweet yeast bread.
How does your family celebrate Christmas?
While my family will usually celebrate the ‘big day’ in the UK, having a Cypriot dad means that I have been lucky enough to celebrate Christmas Cypriot style.
Due to the hot weather, the typical dinner is cooked on the BBQ and eaten outdoors, if the weather allows… Quite a contrast to here in the UK.
Last year we spent Christmas here a home in England and Skyped our Grandparents in Cyprus, sharing part of the day with them and showing each other what we’d be eating.
One of my favourite Christmas foods is the kourabiedes cookie which is a crunchy, buttery almond cookie…delicious!