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November 30, 1960 - Image 13

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1960-11-30

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THE M C IGAN DAILY

ntries

Observe

Season

with

Native

Custom

L HARRAH
Americans may
to the greatest
hristmas season,
ainly have no

In practically every Christian
untry around the world, the
ople practice some rituals or
stoms that make the Yuletide
asoi unique to them.
Swedeni
In Sweden, one of the beautiful
ung ladies in each household
rtrays Saint Lucia, dressed inE
hite with a brilliant red sash
out her waist and wearing an
tonishing crown of pine boughs
qloed with the light of seven
.ndles, awakens the members of
e house by bringing them coffee
ad cakes on a tray, thereby pro-
aiming the arrival of the Christ-
as season on Dec. 13.
One belief in Sweden is that
zcestors come back to their for-
er homes on Christmas Eve; and
, according to tradition, the
ring behave as intruders for the
ght as they make up the beds
ad prepare the tables for their
icestors.
Swedish holiday celebrations
id on Christmas Eve with tree-
imming, dancing, singing, a
nner of "lutfisk" (a fish dish),
id the opening of Christmas pre-
nts which are sealed with red
ax.
Denmark
In Denmark, "Jul-Nisse," the
nevolent little man of the attic,
the essence of Christmas for
.any people.
Although seen by no one except
ie family cat, this little man,
ho lives in the attic and looks
at for the farm animals, is re-
onsible for many mischievous
appenings in the house.
Before going to bed on Christ-
as Eve, Danish children climb
'e attic stairs and place a bowl
' porridge and a pitcher of milk
efore the door. They arise early
ae next morning, only to find
iat the food has mysteriously
sappeared during the night, pre-
amably going to Jul-Nisse.
One of Denmark's prettiest cus-
ms is the remembrance of the
irds. A sheaf of grain is saved
rm the fall harvest - and on
hristmas morning, every gable,
ateway and barndoor is decorated
ith this bundle of grain- the
rds' Christmas dinner.

the priest and given to the head
of the family to break and share
with the guests. While tht sacred
wafer is being eaten, good wishes
are exchanged for the coming year.;
Puppet shows (called "schopka")
depicting the murder of the In-
nocents by Herod, are given during
the holidays. It is said that on
Christmas night the heavens open
and those who have lived pure
and blamless lives can see the
vision of Jacob's ladder.
The Polish Christmas centers
around the songs which are a com-
bination of ,the religious and se-
cular sentiments of the people,
sung in memory of the Savior's
birth.
United States
At Christmastime in the United
States all customs stand on a
common ground-the tradition of
the carol. Choirs, dressed in cos-
tumes native to the countries from
which they came a generation
or generations ago, reveal the
message of the angels of "peace
on earth and good will to men."
Candlelight services in churches
on Christmas Eve and Christmas
morning - brilliantly lighted and
artistically decorated fir trees -
poinsettas and mistletoe-glisten-
ing white snow - a profusion of
presents -- a spirit of fellowship
and good will to men-the excited
faces of children as they watch
and wait for Santa Claus: these
scenes spell Christmas in our
United States.
France 3
The charming yet simple mem-
ories of the ancient French Christ-
mas, with its quaintness, charac.
teristic lightness of spirit, and
intense religious feeling.
Christmas day begins with a
midnight mass of great splendour,
followed by the "revellion," an
elaborate after-church dinner in
the home. Throughout the holiday
season there is a great emphasis
upon the religious aspects of
Christmas.
On Jan. 6, the holiday ends with
the feast of the Kings of Epiphany,
celebrated with much merriment
and festivity. It is at this feast
that the traditional cake, "le
Gateau des Rois" (The cake of the
kings), is cut. This cake has a
pea and a bean in it and the
King and Queen of the Twelfth
Night are elected by those receiv-
ign them.

with a profusion of pretty flowers
and graceful olive trees. Their"
Santa Claus is the benevolent old
witch, "Befana," who, clothed in
rags rides from house to house on
a broomstick leaving presents be-
side each hearth for the children.
The Precipio, truly symbolic of
the Italian Christmas, is found in
every home, with tiny statuettes
of the Holy Family, angles and
shepherds and wisemen grouped
about a minature manger.
Switzerland
In Switzerland, "Samichlaus"
is eagerly awaited by the children
on Dec. 5. In the mountain ham-
lets he is heralded with a proces-
sion from the little village church.
Cross bearer and banner boys,
wearing q u a i n t, high-peaked,
and hoods for protection from the
mountain wind and snow, lead the
choir and clergy through the
streets.
In their midst is the Saint him-
self-Samichlaus-wearing a red,
Jovial mask white flowing beard,
fur-trimmed robe, and a gray
sack and staff, both conveying
rewards for the good and bad
children.
Samichlaus is met in the streets
of the larger cities by happy, ap-
plauding children. He is usually
a young bishop, accompanied by'
grotesquely masked attendant
bishops carrying the triple purse
associated with Saint Nicholas.
While the good bishop distributes
apples and cookies, the attendant
bishops collect alms.
China
Christmas for Christians in
China ia the climax of Lenten
preparation. Before church on
Christmas Eve, the people dress
in their most colorful costumes,
carry their best lanterns and
parade up and down the street
singing Christmas carols to the ac-
companiement of a mandolin.
This singing is stopped by the
burst of firecrackers announcing
the midnight mass, at which time
the people yearly recognize the
gift of the trust of the childiren.
Chinese children call their tree
the "Tree of Light" instead of a
Christmas tree. Their tree has no
candles but is decorated with
brilliant paper flowers. colored
paper chains and cotton snow-
flakes.
England

which the children find great Joy.
The 'pinata' is an elaborate and
colorful earthenware bowl re-
sembling a face or an animal,.
filled with fresh fruits, peanuts,"
candy and good luck charms.
When all is ready, the children
gather around in a circle and one
after another is blindfolded and
has his turn at breaking the
'pinata.' After many attempts, the
'pinata' is finally broken - then
the scramble begins, and each,
child can keep whatever he
manages to find.
Czechoslovakia
Christmas to the (people of
Czechoslovakia means the ending
of, all quarrels and the beginning
of the new year among friends.
It is the custom for all people to
visit their friendsand foes and
forgive any misunderstandings
that may have arisen during the
year.
Chechoslovakia of yesteryear
celebrated the festive season with
caroling. Carol singers were seen
ccrrying minature ,Bethlehem
scenes as they sang to the people
in the towns and villages; and in
some sections little boys would
dress in fantastic costumes, im-
personating the Three Kings.
A legend still believedi n is the
thought that Saint Nick descends
from a bolden cord, led by a
white-clad angel. The little child-
ren go to bed early on Christmas
Eve to make sure that Saint Nick
will stop and leave a present for
them.
Hollandr

a sleeping hen is taken from the
roost and brought into the warm
kitchen. On the floor are five
piles of grain, each one represent-
ing a legend of the five fates:
wealth, poverty, death, marriage
and a life of Single Blessedness.
While the hen is still sleepy, its
befuddlement causes great merri-
ment and laughter, but as the
hen awakens and senses the grain,
she investigates the piles one by
one, and then begins to eat.
The many celebrations which
are associated with Christmas in
Russia are especially interesting
and valuable because they reflect
the customs of the past. Proces-
sions of carolers are heard singing
the old 'kolyada' songs which refer
to the pagan deities and a 'badn-
yak,' a piece of wood similar to
the yule log, is solemnly burnt on
Christmas Eve to keep away the
evil spirits.
Norway

In Norway, according to tradi-
tion, church bells are heard chim-
ing in all the cities, calling the
people to five o'clock church on
Christmas Eve when the Christ-
mas celebrations begin.
Many weeks before, the families
are busy making gifts for Christ-
mas and preparing food to be
stored against the long winter.
Cheese and sausages are made;
breads and animal-shaped cookies
are baked; little colored candles
for the tree are finished; and the
"lutefisk" is readied.
As in Denmark, one of the
charming customs of Norway is the
remembrance of the animals and
birds, since they were the only
ones present at the birth of the
Holy Child..

FAMILIAR SCENE-Freshly cut pine trees will soon be decorated for the Christmas holiday.
traditional association of pine tree and Christmas began long ag6 in Germany.

The farm beasts are carefully
tended, an I the cattle are given
extra fodder. But the best of all
celebrations is saved 4or the birds.
The especially gleaned sheaf, saved
from the fall harvest, is placed on
the top of a tall pole in the yard.
This is the birds' Christmas din-
ner.
Ireland
In Ireland, on Christmas Eve,
candles are lighted and placed in

every window of the house, and
doors -are left ajar. The candle-
light in the open doorway is the
symbol of welcome hospitality, as-
suring the Irish people that no
couple seeking shelter for a baby
who is the Son of God will be
homeless. The candlelight must
shine forth all night long and may
be snuffed out only by those hav-
ing the name of Mary.
A cup and saucer is placed on
the table in each home for the

entertainment of wandering sot
from purgatory, who are believe
to come home for Christmas.
"Feeding the wren" is a custo
that is based upon the legend
Saint Stephen who was hidin
in a furze bush and was betraye
to his enemies by a wren. On Sai
Stephen's Day, December 26th, th
young children gather togeth
obtain a wren, and place it o
topa ofa furze bush while th
go from door to door, coliecti
money for charity.

In Holland, to provide food and
water for Saint Nick's good white '
horse, the Dutch children stuff
their clean wooden shoes with hay
and carrots and place them on
the window sills. A dish of water
is set alongside them.
The children are up early to
see what Saint Nick has left them,
and they are always pleased to
see that he has replaced the hay
and carrots with small gifts, toys
and many other surprises.
After church on Christmas
morning, groups of men grotes-
quely dressed are seen parading
and singing from house to house.
In the afternoon there are
family gatherings when friends
visit each other and there is
skating on the dikes.

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NEW

SERVICE

Poland
One of the most beautiful cele--
rations of the religious traditions
' Christmas is offered by Poland.
When the first star appears in
he evening sky on Dec. 24, Fast
ay is ended and the Christmas
upper begins. Straw is placed un-
er the table, dishes, and table-
loth and one chair is left vacant
or the Holy Child.
Symbolizing peace on earth is
he Peace Wafer, procured from

Italy
Eclipsing the Christmas festival
in Italy is the Feast of the Im-
maculate Conception, honoring the
Virgin Mary. Calabrian shepards,
dressed in goat-skin trousers and
colorful jackets, come down from
the mountains to play on their
pipes and pastoral flutes, stopping
before each shrine in the streets
and before the doors of all car-
penter shops to salute the Virgin
and the Child.
Italy's Christmas scene is set

In England on Christmas Eve
the yule log is brought inside and
placed in the big fireplace. Ac-
cording to custom, each person
in the family must sit upon the
log and salute it before it is lighted
to assure good luck for the house-
hold in the coming year.
Religious services dominate in
the English Christmas celebra-
tions. Processions of carolers
gather under the lofty arches of-j
great cathedrals at midnight on
Christmas Eve to sing the cherish-
ed hymns and carols.
Christmas mummers are still en-
acting the same traditional plays
which have been presented for
the past hundred years. Many of
these plays, purely regional in
character, bespeak Norman, Sax-
on, Viking, and ancient British
origins.
Mexico
In Mexico, a week before Christ-
mas, street vendors display hand-
carved religious figures in their
booths and stalls, and tapestries
of religious design are used as
banners. Shepherds, following an
old tradition, dress in grotesque
clothes and go dancing and sing-
ing from house to house.
A unique custom of this country
is the game of the 'pinata' in

Germany
In Germany, the immortal carol
'Silent Night, Holy Night,' Kris
Kringle, hand carved toys and the
Christmas tree are only a few of
the many contributions to the
joyous Christmas season.
The greatest contribution of all
is the 'Tennebaum'-the Christ-
mas tree - which, decorated in
the utmost secrecy, is lighted on
Christmas Eve and is a never
failing source of enchantment and
excitement for young and old
alike.
Toy-giving is an important part
of Christmas in Germany. Skilled
hands carve toys that breathe the
spirit of a bright fairyland that
lies deep in the Black Forest.
Long ago, when the centers of
toy making were in the farming
districts, the toys reflected objects
that were familiar to the old
farm homesteads -- houses and
stables - woods and wild animals
- carts and wagons.
Russia
Many of Russia's traditions have
been lost and forgotten, but family
reunions and parties for the child-
ren during the Christmas season
still remain. At these reunions, an
old custom - the Five Piles of
Grain - is enacted. At midnight

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WITION-An international student here portrays
Christmas tradition of depicting Saint Lucia.

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