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Saturday, December 22, 2012

Merry Christmas

Sending all of you a warm hug and seasons greetings with warm wishes for a very Merry Christmas and a grand New Year.

Ho Ho Ho
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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas in Argentina

Feliz Navidad!  (Merry Christmas)

This is the fifth installment of my Christmas series tradition.  This is the traditions of Argentina.

Christmas in Argentina
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Celebrating Christmas in Argentina has to do a lot with tradition and Catholic roots that still persist until today. Catholic influences are everywhere even though Argentina is a country influenced by immigrants, especially Italians and Germans who emigrated there after the Second World War.  When thinking of celebrating "la Navidad" in Argentina prepare yourself for blue skies, worm temperatures and a delightful breeze.

"Pólvora" at Midnight:  A Buenos Aires Christmas
In Buenos Aires especially, the scent of orange blossoms, jasmine, and honeysuckle is in the air, and lots of beautifully-colored flowers are everywhere at Christmas time.

Letter To Santa:
During Christmas in Argentina, children write a letter to Santa. I found this to be a unique tradition since in the majority of Latin American countries children write to el nino Dios or baby Jesus instead. I guess this stems from their European influence where writing to Santa is fairly common.

Letter to el nino dios ( Baby Jesus)
Source via ~ HM LaPlata

During the night of the 24th of December families gather at the grand parents home, including brothers, sisters, cousins, nephews, nieces, etc. All to celebrate "La Navidad."

It is also common to see young people in their 20s, go out at midnight and come back home in early morning.

Foods for Celebrating Christmas in Argentina:

The families previously agree on the Christmas menu that traditionally requires each participant to bring a dish, a beverage or any part of the "cena de Navidad" - Christmas dinner.-

Since Christmas in Argentina happens during the summer time the climate calls for a Christmas menu with cold salads, beverages and dishes that make you feel refreshed.

Russian Salad
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The favorite cold salads are the Woldorf and the Russian. The main dish can be sweet and sour pig, chicken Provencal style, and "pesheto" or tongue, but the most traditional dish is grilled meat or "parrillada Argentina" as they call it.

Vitel Thone
Source via!__english
BBQ Meats
The "sidra" used in Argentina for Christmas has a very similar complexion to that of Spain. Argentineans also drink champagne.

Sidra (
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The best time to drink "sidra" is right after being poured because it has this "sparkling" characteristic you don't want to loose.

In Argentina Christmas also includes delightful desserts like "turrones" - a type of candy- and "pan dulce" or sweet bread called "panetone" which has crystallized fruits and nuts, especially almonds.

Turrones (Nougat candy)
Source via ~ Google

Source via ~ Google Images

Celebrating Christmas in Argentina Must Include "Pólvora" and Presents!

At midnight on the 24 of December you can hear the explosions from the fireworks going on everywhere. "Quemar pólvora" - lighting fireworks, hugging and kissing family and friends, and opening presents that were placed under the Christmas tree is a must at midnight.

Quemar Polvora (Fireworks)
Source via ~

"Quemando Globos."  Another beautiful tradition is to light "globos." They are paper decorations you light inside and they take off into the sky. Argentinians do  it at night.
Globos (Paper Decorations)
Source via ~ Tony & Rosi
Today very few families go to church to share in the midnight mass. Even though Christmas is one of the top holidays in Argentina, it has become more of a commercial holiday than a religious one.

The old tradition was to hand make the presents but as Argentineans became more affluent they started to incorporate imported gifts. Argentina entered an economic recession in 2002 forcing many people to go back to their old traditions of low expenses and hand made presents at Christmas time.

Hispanic Christmas Decorations in Argentina:

In Argentina Christmas is an important holiday and this is evident in the decorations that every home displays. Wreaths in green, gold, red and white along Christmas trees decorate the living rooms.

Christmas Wreath

Pesebre ( Creche)

Papa Noel

Thanks so much for stopping by! It looks like I might have time for at least one more tradition before Christmas.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Christmas In Greece

Sheri of  Red Rose Alley has asked me to do a Christmas tradition series on Greece.  I also have a very special and dear friend who is from Greece but now lives in Norway.  This post is for Demie of Paraphernalia and Sheri of Red Rose Alley. I hope you enjoy this!

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Epiphany covers the twelve days of Christmas, from Christmas Day through New Year to Epiphany on January 6th. Christmas in Crete & Greece 'XRISTOUYENNA' - in Greek it literally means Christ's birth. Christmas is the second most important religious holiday in Greece, after Easter. It is usually celebrated with quiet church services, family gatherings and Name Day parties.

Christmas in Greece is celebrated on December 25th, but presents are usually given to children on January 1st, St. Basil's Day (Agios Vassilis). In Greece St Nicholas is the patron saint of sailors, and December 6th is St. Nicholas Day. In centuries of Greek folklore, Nicholas was seen as "The Lord of the Sea' while in modern Greece he is still easily among the most recognisable saints and December 6 finds many cities celebrating their patron saint. He is also the patron saint of Greece.

St. Nickolas (Patron Saint of Sailers
Source via ~ Google Images
Decorated Boat
In the past there used to be present giving on this day and boats were decorated instead of Christmas trees. The decorated boats are still seen in some places, but have mainly given way to the western tradition of the Christmas tree. St. Basil's (Agios Vassilis) name has been given to Father Christmas. St Vassilis Day is celebrated on January 1st, therefore the Greek Agios Vassilis, or 'Father Christmas', is associated with New Year's Day and this is when Greek children receive their Christmas presents. Christmas is becoming more commercialised in Greece and the shops are full of tinsel and trimmings from November onwards.

St Basil (Agios Vassilis) Name given to Father Christmas
Source via ~  Google Images
A week or two before Christmas most Cretans decorate Christmas trees in their homes and many also have an impressive array of lights hung outside on balconies and in gardens. The town streets and villages are also well decorated with Christmas lights. On Christmas Eve children go from house to house singing carols, the 'Kalanda' (see below).

 Christmas Day is usually spent with family and the traditional Christmas dinner may be roast lamb, pork or turkey without the trimmings! Fricasse - lamb cooked with egg and lemon sauce - is another traditional Christmas meal in Greece. Loaves of 'christopsomo' ('Christ bread' - large sweet loaves) are usually found on the Christmas table, along with Christmas biscuits, 'melomakarana' (sweet honey covered biscuits) and kourabiedes (icing sugar-coated biscuits).

Fricasse (Lamb Cooked With Egg and Lemon Sauce)
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Christopsomos ( Greek Christmas Bread)
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Melomakaranona  ( Sweet Honey Covered Biscuits)
Source via ~ //
Kourabides ( Icing Sugar Coated Biscuits)

 December 25th is also the Name Day of Christos, Christina and Chrysoula, so many people are attending, or hosting, Name Day parties on Christmas Day evening. Other Christmas and New Year Name Days 26th December - Manolis, Manos, Manolia. 27th December - Stephanos, Stephania 1st January - Vassilis, Vaso 7th January - Yiannis, Yianna X_MAS The 'Xmas' abbreviation of Christmas is said to come from the Greek 'Xristos' or Christos.

 The Kalanda The Kalanda, or Christmas Carols, are traditionally sung on just three days over the Christmas period: on Christmas Eve, New Years Eve and the Eve of Epiphany. Groups of children go from house to house singing the appropriate Carol for the day (there are 3 different songs for each 3 days), usually accompanied by metal triangles (trigono). They will ask the house owner 'na to poume?' (literally 'shall we sing it?') before starting to sing; this is in case there has been a recent death in the household, as those in mourning do not celebrate Christmas. The children are rewarded with sweets or coins from the householder. 

New Year in Crete and Greece 'PROTOXRONIA' New Year's Day, January 1st, is a Bank Holiday in Greece. The day of Saint Basil or Agios Vassilis and Father Christmas. The 'Podariko' - First footing. It's considered lucky for a child to be the first person to step over your doorstep on New Years Day. The child should bring a plant called the 'skylokremmyda' (which looks like an onion with shoots) to leave on the doorstep, then step into the house right foot first. The child is rewarded by the householder with a gift of money for the New Year.

 Vassilopita - St Basil's Cake/ New Year's cake. The vassilopita is a simple sponge cake and is baked in nearly every Greek household at New Year. A coin wrapped in foil (flouri) is placed in the cake before it's baked. The cake is ceremoniously cut by the head of the household and whoever gets the slice containing the 'flouri' is said to have good luck for all of the forthcoming year.

Vassilopita ( Sponge Cake)
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Flouri Vassilopita ( Hidden in the sponge cake before it is  baked)

 Gambling Traditionally Greeks spend the days during Christmas and New Year gambling. New Year's Eve is THE main gambling time - after seeing in the New Year many will try out their luck until well into the early hours. Even houses and cars have been lost over a card game or the throw of the zaria (dice)! In all the cafeneons across the land around Christmas you will find the men sitting around card tables. It is actually illegal to gamble in unlicensed places but this doesn't stop the owners or the customers! The cafeneon owners actually charge for the tables by the hour and will go around collecting a few Euros off each player every hour. The most popular card games are 21 (similar to black jack, but with a kitty in the middle), 31 (similar to black jack but each player tries to get 31 instead of 21, and 'thanasi' (rummy). 'Zaria' or dice is played with two dice by 2 players in turn and there are set winning and losing combinations (win 6 and 6, 6 and 5, lose 1 and 1, 1 and 3 etc.). Betting takes place before the throw of the dice and there is also side betting around the table .

Cafeneon  (Cafe)

 Epiphany in Crete and Greece Theofania or Ta Fota 6th January In the morning or the afternoon of the Eve of 'Ta Fota' (i.e. 5th January), village priests do the rounds of village homes to sprinkle holy water and bless the houses and all those who live there - called the "ayiasmos" . The Feast of Epiphany, or The Solomn Blessing of the Waters, commemorates Christ's baptism in the River Jordan. On January 6th waterside ceremonies are held across Greece and Crete at harbours, lakes and rivers. Boats gather to mark the ceremony and a Holy cross is thrown into the sea or river by the priest. Swimmers dive into the chilly waters to retrieve it. It is a great honour and a blessing for the one who retrieves the cross first. 

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