Christmas comes but once a year, and when it does, the festive experience looks very different depending on which country you are in. Everything from the food to the decorations right down to the guy who gives out the presents will vary depending on if you are in France, Finland or Italy.
Did you know that in Finland people roll around in the snow on Christmas Day before hitting the sauna? Or that, in Norway, if you find an almond in your bowl of julegrøt (Christmas porridge), you will win a marzipan pig? Or that in the Netherlands Santa doesn’t arrive by sleigh but on a steamboat from Spain?
If the answer is no to any of the above, or if you are simply as interested in the cultural differences around the world as I am, then you might want to check out this interactive Christmas infographic from Expedia.co.uk.
It shows the various customs and traditions around Europe, giving you a glimpse into a typical living room in each country. Click on the objects in each room to discover the festive foods, decorations and celebrations that make every Christmas unique. You can even learn how to say “Merry Christmas” in thirteen different languages! So click the link pic below and enjoy learning the Diverse Christmas Traditions of Europe!
Click on the map to start your adventure now:
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving in the United States and I wanted to share some thoughts and ramble a little bit. This is one of those holidays that is steeped in tradition, yet there are only a few traditions in the holiday that may be common. Most traditions for this holiday are individual to the families that have them.
I did some research on the origins of Thanksgiving in the US and it confused me more than helped. Of course the research I conducted was on the internet and we all know how factual and accurate the internet is. The consensus is the first Thanksgiving was in the Autumn of 1621. Some believe it was a day of fasting and prayer, while others believed dinner was served. There are sites that state the feast lasted three days. I found one site that stated what I wrote above how some said there was no feast while others said there was, then a few paragraphs later write about the three day feast. From what I can gather is if there was a feast most likely there was no pumpkin pie and Turkey may or may not have been there.
I will be celebrating Thanksgiving with family and friends. We started this tradition a few years ago. I believe this will be out fourth one, though it may only be the third. The number of years is really not that important. We celebrate Thanksgiving with our church family and include anyone that would like to join us regardless of there church orientation. It is a potluck affair with all the trimmings including traditional family trimmings that are new to other families. We enjoy our time sharing what we are thankful for and being thankful together. I like it because several families share bringing us all together not unlike I would like to think the pilgrims did with the indians.
Regardless of how the first Thanksgiving was or how all of us celebrate it, there is one thing I think that most all of us that celebrate this holiday can agree on. Thanksgiving is a day to be thankful, regardless if you are thankful to God, to a higher power of some sort, to your family, or to something or someone else that I cannot think of or name. It is a time of reflection and thought. I know I think about it. What am I truly thankful for? If the answer is an easy snap to conclusion then I challenge that it may not be what you or I are truly or at least deeply thankful for.
This year it is harder to find or think of something to be deeply thankful for. I say this is not because we as a people have nothing to be thankful for, but more that there are a lot of negative things going on in our country that make it harder to focus on what is really important. Not important to our country, but important to ourselves as individuals. It is easy to focus on the negatives and miss out on the positives. I say we must focus on the positive so that we do not completely lose sight of it and allow it to slip from our lives. Thanksgiving is the day or a least a very good day to do that.
I am thankful for my family. This may seem a simple or easy answer, but it isn’t. To put it more deeply, I am thankful that my son and I still spend time together quietly and rambunctiously even though he is, or in spite of the fact that he is becoming a teenager. I thankful that he still looks up to me and still shares with me. I am thankful that my wife and I still love each other after sixteen years of marriage, which is not too common nowadays. I am thankful that we have a family dog that is so intelligent and loving, also a best buddy and confidant of my son. I am thankful that no matter how bad my day is I know I am loved by my family. So when I say I am thankful for my family it isn’t just lip service or an easy answer it is a deep thoughtful answer that can be thought of and used to keep positive regardless of how negative life can be.
What are you thankful for?