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Christmas traditions from around the world

The festive season is upon us, and here at Bishop Perowne, Christmas is a very important time of the year. With everyone getting excited to celebrate with family and friends, our students have been talking about their own Christmas traditions and thinking about how Christmas is celebrated around the world. We spoke to students who are part of our English as an Additional Language department to learn more about the Christmas traditions they have.

Christmas in Portugal

Diana Vieira, Year 8

“Christmas is very important in Portugal. Every home, street, town and city has a Nativity scene and people dress up as characters from the Nativity.

On Christmas Eve most families go to midnight mass (Missa do Galo) where people queue up to kiss the baby Jesus to welcome him into the world.

The Christmas Eve celebration meal does not have any meat, instead we eat fish. The whole family gets together to eat food, drink port wine, and laugh into the early hours of the morning.

Christmas day is a day of rest, with another big family meal, but this time with meat. People go to mass in the morning, and then come home to share presents, eat, play board games or go for a walk.

Happy Christmas from Portugal!

Feliz Natal e um prospero Ano Novo.”

Christmas in Italy

Rebecca Stavarache, Year 8 and Erisa Delishaj, Year 9

In Italy, preparations for Christmas start on 8th December. All around the country, families decorate their Christmas trees. There are Christmas markets everywhere.

On Christmas Eve we have a very rich fish dinner and after that we go to church. After midnight, when we return home, it’s the most exciting moment because we open our presents. It is a very happy time.

On Christmas day all the family eat together; we usually eat different sorts of meat and panettone for dessert.

The next day is Santo Stefano and people celebrate it with friends.

The Christmas holidays finish on 6th January when children hang up stockings. La Befana [an old lady who delivers gifts to children] arrives at night. It is said that she looks like a witch and flies from house to house on a broomstick bringing sweets to good children and lumps of coal to those who have been naughty.

Buon Natale Felice, Merry Christmas.”

Christmas in Greece

Margarita Kaloudi, Year 7

“In Greece, everyone is very excited about Christmas. On Christmas Eve, we sing Christmas songs and we make two very special sweet biscuits. Melomakarona, made with syrup and honey, and Kourabiedes, a hard cookie covered in icing sugar. They are both delicious!

Long ago when my great grandmother was a little girl, she would decorate a boat with little lamps and a star at Christmas. People still do this today.

This is called the Karavaki and it is a symbol of sailing to the new life that the birth of Jesus Christ brings. As Greece is so connected to the sea, it is also a thank you to all sailors and fishermen who have spent their lives on the sea.

On Christmas Day, we go to church in the morning and then all the family come to my Grandmother’s house. We eat all together and we wait for Santa Claus to arrive with presents.

Happy Christmas! Καλά Χριστούγεννα.”

Christmas in Poland

Dorian Sieradzki, Year 7

 “Christmas Eve is the most important time for us. We put plates on the table and there is always a spare place for an unexpected guest. We also put a little bit of hay under the tablecloth to remind us of the stable where Jesus was born. We wait for the first star in the sky and then we can start celebrating Jesus’ birthday.

Before the meal, we share a special wafer called “oplatek” as we exchange Christmas greetings.

Then we sit together at the table where we traditionally have 12 different dishes, all without meat. Everyone has to try each of them.

After the special dinner we are allowed to open presents found under the Christmas tree.

Later on we go to the church for a special Midnight Mass called “Pasterka”.

Next day we have a family dinner and we go to church for a Christmas mass.

Wesolych Swiat Bozego Narodzenia! Merry Christmas!”

Christmas in Romania

Denisa Chirila, Year 9

“In Romania, we have our first Santa called Mos Nicolae on 6th December. Children clean their boots before going to sleep and put them outside the door, and he fills them up with sweets.

From 20th December until the 1st January, choirs and carol singers knock on doors and sing Christmas songs. In exchange, we give them traditional food or a little bit of money.

On Christmas Eve, we prepare traditional food based on pork meat. We decorate our houses and trees, but we can’t eat the meat until after we go to church on Christmas Day.

On Christmas morning, Santa puts presents under the Christmas tree for good children but for naughty children he brings coal on a stick as a warning. But, after that he still brings them presents!

Happy Christmas or (as we say in Romania), Craciun Fericit!”

However you are celebrating this year, we want to wish all of our staff and students a very joyful Christmas and a Happy New Year. We have had a great term at Bishop Perowne, and we’re looking forward to seeing everyone again in January.

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