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Christmas Traditions Around Th

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RELIGIOUS PRACTICE AND POPULAR CUSTOMS
The Bible provides no guidelines that explain how Christmas should be observed, nor does it even suggest that it should be considered a religious holiday. Because of the lack of biblical instructions, Christmas rituals have been shaped by the religious and popular traditions of each culture that celebrates the holiday.
On Christmas Eve, churches around the world hold evening services. At midnight, most Catholic and many Protestant churches hold special candlelight services. The Catholic midnight Mass was first introduced by the Roman Catholic Church in the 5th century.
In Greece The Greek Christmas, or Christougenna, pays respect to the Nativity of Christ while also incorporating popular superstitions. On Christmas Eve, Greek children go from house to house knocking on doors and singing Greek songs that tell of the arrival of the Christ child. The family celebration focuses on a Christmas Eve dinner, which, in the Greek Orthodox tradition, follows several weeks of fasting. According to legend, mischievous, often hideous looking elves called Kallikantzaroi wreak havoc in houses for the next 12 days. Burning incense or leaving a peace offering is supposed offer some protection against the elves. Most families decorate a small wooden cross with basil and dip it into a shallow bowl of water. This is believed to give the water holy powers. The water is then sprinkled throughout the house to keep the mischievous spirits away.

In Russia After the Russian Revolution of 1917, authorities of the newly formed USSR prohibited the practice of all religions. After the USSR broke up in 1991, the Russian Orthodox Church revived Christmas rituals. Like the Greeks, some Russians fast during a period before Christmas. Then, at the sight of the first star in the sky on Christmas Eve, a 12-course supper begins, with one course for each of Jesus’ 12 disciples. The meal includes , or beet soup; stuffed cabbage; and kutiya, a dish of whole wheat grains soaked in water for hours and seasoned with honey, nuts, and crushed poppy seeds.
In Italy
During the Christmas season Italians perform music at shrines of the Virgin Mary. They also play songs at the homes of carpenters in honor of Saint Jos...

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...s and red sashes, and wear crowns of greenery and glowing candles C2 In Germany The German custom of decorating an evergreen tree at Christmastime has become one of the most popular images of Christmas around the world. At one time, Germany supplied the world with almost all of the decorative glass ornaments for Christmas trees. The Christmas season begins in Germany during the first week of December, when town squares become filled with stalls selling everything from toys to hot spiced wine. On the evening of December 5, children wait for a visit from Saint Nicholas, who brings them gifts. Most children also receive gifts on Christmas Eve. In some parts of Germany, Santa Claus distributes gifts, but in other regions children’s treats are delivered by Knecht Ruprecht, a mythical figure dressed in animal skins. From Christmas Eve through all of Christmas Day and the next day, stores are closed and all work stops as families exchange gifts, attend church, and wish one another Fröhliche Weihnachten (happy Christmas.)
Around the world, every custom celebrates Christmas in a different way...as with famalies in the same culture.
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