Most countries, and sometimes regions, have their own traditions for how they celebrate Christmas. The holiday is a mash-up of Christian and pagan roots that has evolved throughout its long history. One of my favorite traditions is that of Caga Tió celebrated in Catalonia. Long story short, children care for a log they found in the woods for several days then later beat it until it poops presents and candy.
Mark and I usually spend Christmas with his family and the festivities encompass a lot of food. On Christmas Eve we enjoy the feast of the seven fishes, an Italian American tradition (though Mark’s family isn’t Italian). On Christmas Day we exchange gifts, watch Christmas movies, and eat beef wellington with various sides.
Tallinn Christmas Market
In Tallinn the city was adorned with decorations in early November and the Christmas Market opened on the 15th in the Town Hall Square. A Christmas tree has been set up in the square since 1441, making it the first tree to be put on display in Europe. The vendors at the market sell a variety of handmade gifts such as sheep and leather products, woodwork, and Christmas ornaments. Glögi, Estonian mulled wine, is served with and without alcohol to keep warm. There’s an extensive cultural schedule with singing and dance performances, and a weekly Christmas tour.
Estonians celebrate their Christmas traditions on December 24th. Though Estonia is a predominantly secular country, some do attend church. They may also go to the cemetery to visit loved ones and leave a candle at their gravesite. A dinner of blood sausage, sauerkraut, oven roasted potatoes, and pork is enjoyed later that evening. The country prides itself on being a digital society and that doesn’t stop with Christmas. Residents can locate and pay online for a Christmas tree they want to chop down.
Unlike American folklore, Santa doesn’t squeeze down the chimney but instead knocks on the front door. Children must recite a poem or sing a song for candy and presents. Traditional poems are known by heart, though some children will create a poem of their own.
What are some of your favorite Christmas traditions?