Sunday, 12 December 2010

European Christmas Traditions From St Nicholas' Day to Epiphany

This is an interesting page on the BBC Web-site, detailing Christmas traditions across Europe.

To be honest I have long thought the tradition of the Spanish in giving gifts on the 6th of January - the day the Three Kings gave the gifts to the Infant Christ - has more relevance to the Christian Nativity story, and would allow us to celebrate the spiritual nature of Christmas, then the gift-giving of Epiphany (in turn 'rounding off' the 12 days of Christmas).

I think I read previously that in the Czech Republic that the main Christmas meal is fish... which to my sensibilities just seems wrong, but then I'm no fan of Turkey either, preferring beef, chicken, lamb or pork (or a mixture of a few of them given the choice!).

From ChurchYear.Net:
Officially called "The Epiphany of the Lord," this feast celebrates the epiphany (manifestation) of Christ to the Gentiles, symbolized by Christ's manifestation to the Magi (Wise Men). The feast originally was more closely connected to Jesus' baptism, the primary theme of the feast in Eastern Churches to this day. In addition, other manifestations of Christ were often commemorated during Epiphany, including the miracle at Cana. In fact, it has been asserted that the Baptism of the Lord, the adoration of the infant Jesus by the Magi, and the miracle at Cana all historically occurred on January 6 (see Abbot Gueranger's works). Whether this is true is contested, but either way, the Epiphany solemnity is celebrated on January 6, which falls within Christmastide. In some Catholic regions, the feast is translated to a Sunday. The Eastern Churches often call the holiday Theophany, which means "manifestation of God." Eastern Christians also refer to the Epiphany as "Holy Lights" because they baptize on this day, and baptism brings about illumination. Traditionally, Epiphany marked the end of the Twelve Days of Christmas.
And as this is a Welsh site I've put a link to some Welsh Traditions too.

BBC Languages - Christmas
Welsh Christmas Traditions

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