All over the world, Christmas celebrations reflect local culture and traditions. The festivities can be startlingly different from country to country, focusing on different aspects of the nativity story.
But whether you're celebrating Koleda in Bulgaria or St. Lucia's Day in Sweden, you're sharing in the wonder and magic of the Christmas season. Caroling, feasting, and gift-giving along with the prayers and wishes - Christmas is celebrated with high spirits in various parts of the world. Though the mode of celebration, the dates and the traditions vary, the spirit remains the same everywhere.
In Bulgaria, Christmas is celebrated on December 25th
One legend in Bulgaria is that Mary started her labor on 'Ignazhden', December 20th (Saint Ignatius of Antioch's Day) and she gave birth of Christmas Eve but the birth of Jesus wasn't announced until Christmas Day. The 20th is also the traditional 'new year' in Bulgarian culture. It's traditional to eat a special ring shaped caked called 'kolaks' on this day.
Christmas Eve (called 'Badni Veche') is a very important day and the main Christmas meal is eaten in the evening of Christmas Eve.
The meal should traditionally have an odd number of dishes in it (normally 7, 9 or 11) and an odd number of people sitting around the table. (Salt, pepper and sugar can count as separate dishes!). It's normally a rich vegetarian meal and includes dishes made of different such as beans soup, 'sarmi' cabbage leaves stuffed with rice, peppers stuffed with rice, boiled wheat with sugar and walnuts, different kinds of pastries (cheese, pumpkin and sweets pastries soaked in syrup), some kolaks, lots of fruits and nuts like dried plums, dried apricots, oranges and tangerines and 'oshav' a dried fruit compote. Walnuts are especially popular. If you walnut is delicious you will have a good year, but if it's empty or has a small nut you'll have a bad year! On Christmas Day some families will have another big meal, but this time there will be meat, normally some kind of pork.
Another interesting Bulgarian tradition is the Kukeri who are elaborately costumed Bulgarian men who perform traditional rituals intended to scare away evil spirits. Around New Year and before Lent, the kukeri walk and dance through villages to scare away evil spirits with their costumes and the sound of their bells. They are also believed to provide a good harvest, health, and happiness to the village during the year.
Christmas Traditions in Sweden:
The holidays are the highlight of the year for kids; the only problem is that I don’t have any.
So what to do during the holidays when your kids have grown up and left the house or you, like me, never bothered to have any? Besides spoiling your nieces, nephews and grandchildren, how about taking your inner child for a spin around the proverbial block to see the neighbor’s Christmas lights?
Try doing what your inner child wants to do:
Everything seems possible, when I look through the eyes of a child. And every once in a while; I remember, I still have the chance to be that wild.” ― Nikki Rowe
What fun are you planning to have with your inner child this Christmas?
It's the Christmas season. It's the season of gift shopping, mall running and money spending. I know, it's a crazy madness. You go to work and then run to various shops with a long list in your hand hoping you won't forget anybody's present this year. And in the mids of all this you meet a complete stranger on the street who smiles at you and wishes a Happy Merry Christmas.
Whether it’s the cashier at the grocery store, the neighbor next door, or the guy delivering your mail, it’s nice scoring that warm little season’s greetings to remind us we’re all chasing the same ol’ thing. And why not you being that person next time you meet a stranger on the street. Make somebody smile. Wish them a heartfelt happy holidays no matter it's politically correct or not.
This time of year is a truly wonderful and magical.