Australia, Community, History & Traditions

Christmas Traditions Around the World

Denmark

Almost every tourist to Copenhagen will visit the Tivoli Gardens, but if you want to experience an authentic Danish Christmas, you have to be around on December 24, as that is when the Danes and many Scandinavians, and indeed Europeans, celebrate Christmas. Danes might stay at home making and preparing marzipan Christmas sweets, and in the evening, celebrate Christmas with a hearty meal with family or friends, before dancing around the Christmas tree singing carols, (in danish of course), and finish the night playing Christmas games. It is all about creating Christmas Hygge!

Norway

The focus in Norway at Christmas, or Jul, is on food and lots of it. From the Rice porridge, or Rommegrot to seven types of Christmas biscuits or cookies, the Norwegian are into it. Trolls, Nisse and all.

Germany and Europe

Over in Deutscheland, and many parts of Europe, you might attend a Christmas market. It is almost compulsory and who wouldn’t want to, when there is delicous Christmas food, a festive atmosphere and Gluhwein in the offering.

europe2011secondbatch088

Switzerland

The Swiss have long trumpet like horns that are played in the streets at Christmas time. In Lucerne, they also have enormous cow bells which are held in front of them and are rung, in a rhythmic march, whilst parading down the city streets. A very special Swiss Christmas.

Austria

Over in Austria, you might meet fairy tale characters in the streets of the Old Towns, such as these in Innsbruck.

However, the vibe is a little different in Austria and southern European areas like Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia or Austria, who have the tradition of the Krampus. Based on old Germanic folklore, Austrians, (not to be confused with Australians, who have the kangaroos), start celebrating Christmas on Krampusnacht,December 5. That is when Santa’s evil twin, the “Krampus”, a devil like figure with horns, roams the streets with his evil accomplice, brandishing a whip and stick to threaten naughty children who’ve misbehaved throughout the year. 

Austrian Christmas - Krampus
The Krampus

Traditionally, young men dress up with the hairy ‘Krampus’ masks and walk the streets creating havoc, hitting people with sticks. That’s Austria. Luckily, when I met the Krampus, he was in a good mood and without his heinous accomplice!

Australia

Australia, the ones with the kangaroos and Crocodiles, (not Austria), has its own version of fun in the sun at Christmas time, because it is anything but cool, “down under.” Christmas Day, December 25 is often celebrated at teh beach.

Every shopping centres hosts Santa, where he sits posed on his gold throne, surrounded by fake snow, with children atop his knee, listening intently to wishes for Christmas. It is highly confusing for the smarter kids, as they can’t work out how Santa is able to be at every shopping centre at the same time!

Christmas gift
Christmas

Often there is the opportunity for official Santa photos, and now it is popular for beloved pets get involved too. The Schnauzer seemed to enjoy the experience this year.

New Zealand

Down in New Zealand, you will most likely have a Christmas tree (usually an artificial one), or more than one, if you are as passionate about Christmas as this kiwi.

xmasCollages5
New Zealand Christmas

This Lady of the above house in Wellington loves decorating, makes all her own decorations and has no less than 15 trees in her house. It is always tastefully done, albeit a tad obsessive, but in the nicest possible way! Dianne collects a gold coin donation from visitors and the money raised is donated to charity, so there is method in her madness.

Image

Some of her trees were really creative. She had even created seasonal trees – in tones of Spring, Summer Autumn and well, winter of course.

Sweden

At the opposite ends of the world, in the far north of Sweden, you might be building a snowman or sliding down a snowy slope on a mattress at Christmastime. Or digging out your car, if the snow is heavy!

sweden
Skellefteå

Japan

In Eastern parts of the world such as Japan, you might not really celebrate Christmas at all and instead, focus on the bigger celebration of New Year. Mind you, the growing tradition of eating Kentucky Fried Chicken on December 25, is oddly popular, for some reason. I would most likely starve if I spent Christmas day there.

You may even be someone who dislikes the hype around Christmas and prefer not to celebrate and that is okay too. Wherever you are and how ever you choose to see Christmastime, may you find Joy in your day and peace in your heart.

God jul

Griss Godt

Fröhliche Weihnachten

Nollaig Shona

Wesołych Świąt

Manuia le Kirisimasi

メリークリスマス

Glædelig jul

Merry Christmas

Happy Holidays

Merry Christmas

from Amanda at Something to Ponder About

stpa logo
Christmas markets Europe
Photography

Friendly Friday Photo Challenge – Christmas Preparations

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Hello Everyone!

StPA is finally back after a month offline that was largely spent packing up and unpacking box after box of ‘stuff.’ Stuff that I’ve accumulated through the bulk of my adult life that needed to be moved to a new house. Much of the extraneous stuff has been sold, given away or donated to charity, and so it feels like a new chapter and beginning for me and the MOTH, in our new Home by the Sea.

Meanwhile, on returning to work, I was greeted with the launching of a Christmas room decorating challenge which seems to have brought out a competitive streak in all the staff.

From doorways and even ‘Ralph,’ the skeleton, enhanced with tinsel and Christmas gift wrap, to desks and computers decorated with baubles and Admin staff bedecked with reindeer antler headpieces, some decorations were quirky, funny, pretty and yes, over the top too! A bit like the lady I met in New Zealand, whose home was filled with all kinds of Christmas trees in her own passion for Christmas preparations.

Some of Dianne’s Xmas Trees

It was with this Dianne in mind, that I decided the prompt this week’s Friendly Friday prompt would be:

Christmas Preparations

Your preparations might be packing for a long awaited camping trip, or cooking up a storm of food, or it might be a well earned rest at the beach with a good book or two, (that’s me), or even a walk amongst the Christmas lights or markets with a warming cup of Gluhwein.

happy girl
German Christmas Markets

Whatever your preparations are, I’d love to see and hear about it here at Friendly Friday. Here is how to join in:

Joining the Friendly Friday Photo Challenge

  • Write a ‘Friendly Friday-Christmas Preparations,’ post and include a URL link to this post, tagging the post, ‘Friendly Friday.’
  • Add the Photo Challenge logo, too, if you wish.
  • Copy the published url into the comments below, so other readers can visit your blog.
  • Visit other Friendly Friday entries by following their links. It’s fun!
  • Follow the host blogs to see future FF prompts in 2020.

Remember to post a comment in this post, so we can find you if the pingback doesn’t work.

Christmas gift
Suspicious Santa

Friendly Friday 2020

As Christmas is usually a busy time for most of us, I wish to announce that this is the very last Friendly Friday Challenge for 2019, as the challenge will be in recess over Christmas and New Year.

Friendly Friday

Friendly Friday Challenges WILL begin again from January 31st, 2020, here at Something to Ponder About and the following week we will welcome our new challenge host, Sandy from The Sandy Chronicles. I do hope you will continue to enjoy and post along with us, on Friendly Fridays.

Snow and I have so enjoyed getting to know such a rich and diverse group of fabulous photographers and bloggers. Maybe we should call it Fabulous Friday!

A huge thanks goes to Manja from Manja Mexi Mexcessive for keeping the Friendly Friday Seat warm for the my hosting weeks in the past month and for being a fabulous backup for both Snow and I. Manja has done a magnificient job and I am very lucky to have a great back up host. Her photos are diverse and enthralling and captions legendary.

Christmas Preparations

Is it beginning to look a lot like Christmas in your place?

I must admit that I am pretty low key with decorations this year. I think it is something to do with moving overload !! Which leaves more time for relaxing in our steamy summer weather. And also for some Christmas music. My Christmas is always accompanied by the mellow tones of Bing….

Merry Christmas from Amanda at Something to Ponder About

Community

Christmas – Around the World

Merry Christmas from Something to Ponder About –

Here are a few snippets of Christmas past spent in various parts of the World. The spirit remains strong and the family connections, despite whatever corner of our globe we live in. May your Christmas be Merry and Bright!

Glædelig jul – Christmas in Denmark

Denmark

God jul – Christmas in Norway

A Norwegian Christmas

Norwegian National dress is worn at Christmas

European Christmas

Frohe Weihnachten! An Austrian, German and Swiss Christmas

Innsbruck christmas
Christmas in Austria
Christmas markets Europe
German Christmas Markets
Lucerne christmas
In Switzerland playing traditional horns
Innsbruck
‘Statues’ in Innsbruck at Christmas

Japanese Christmas

Merri Kurisumasu

Australian Christmas

And in Australia, we celebrate too even though it is hot and humid…. but we try to stay cool!

Christmas in our backyard pool!

Merry Christmas

from Amanda at Something to Ponder About

Merry Christmas is different around the world, and yet the same!!
Community

Last Minute Christmas Ideas

Decorations are in the shops from August in some places, carols are playing over the speakers in shopping centres, and Christmas comes earlier and becomes more commercialized every year.

Even kids are organized early, these days. When my children were younger, a lengthy Christmas wish list of various items ranging in price from in expensive to earth shattering out of my budget, expensive, would appear on my bedroom wall, about a month before Christmas Day. Just in case I was unsure of what exactly to buy for them for Xmas. 

Kids growing expectations of Christmas gifts

There is expectations around gift giving now. Mind you, can’t really blame the kids for trying, even if the follow through does not reach such dizzying heights.

Humbling was the child from a family, at school, who said, when asked what they got from Santa, “A new lunchbox for school.”  Did this pull at my heart strings?  Oh yes, indeed. Makes me think of many possible alternative options for low cost or free activities, as gifts, that one can request and give for Christmas.

(Write these up onto pretty gift cards, placed in a “surprise bag” and could be pulled out by each child/ adult, as a kind of lucky dip/Christmas game)
* A warm and cosy evening/day spent doing whatever each child wishes, one on one, without disturbances from computer, phone, mobile phone or Ipod, Ipad etc etc.  It might be a board game, cocoa and a chat, playing games, like hide n seek, or pictionary/ monopoly.

* A Christmas themed movie or power-point presentation for Grandparents and/or extended family

* Building a cubby house, go cart, or raft together. This can be as complex or as simple as you like: the full wooden hammer and nails bit, or a large cardboard box.

* Sewing or embroidering a calico/reusable plain shopping bags, with permanent markers or paint

*Make low cost decorations for the tree with pre-printed felt, ribbon and glue.

Embroidery star decoration
Simple – cut out printed felt or embroider and glue to make low cost decorations

* Making the Christmas cake/ lolly or cookie jars to give to others.

* Setting out tea light candles all along your street and letterbox dropping others on surrounding streets to do the same. We do this and call it ‘Santa’s highway’.

Tivoli

* Making a card or memory album for Grandma

* Constructing a year in my family chronicle to give out to family members at Xmas with recipes, funny stories, and photos.

* Challenge the kids to present a puppet show or play to family members on Christmas Day. Make a video to give to them when they are older

* A talent quest for family members with a Christmas theme

(Chocolate Prizes for all entrants)

* Swimming or running races or even Trampoline competitions if you have one

* A Forest hike

* A walk or play on the beach, perhaps with the promise of ice cream afterwards.

* If the kids are into books, a trip to the library or bookstore or book exchange

Lucerne christmas

There are plenty more ideas available on the net or in books, so these are just a few that came to me, off the top of my head. This kind of experience will stay in a child’s memory for longer than the short lived joy of getting a cheap plastic toy that may be broken/forgotten in a few months time.

Christmas need not be super expensive. Be creative and have fun, and still be giving a priceless gift that has the bonus of being environmentally friendly.

These activities will surely be something kids might ponder about when they reminisce about Christmas past.

Ways to save money this Christmas and still have fun with the family.

How do you manage Christmas spending?

Have you got a way to save money and still have fun with the children?

Australia, Community, Danmark, History & Traditions

Daily Post Photography Challenge – Object

The Daily Post challenge encourages us to photograph one tangible object, being conscious of Aperture, composition, focus and depth of field. Furthermore, the post tells us some photographs, like portraits, focus on individuals, while still-life moments capture the beauty (and often treasured stories) of belongings and found objects. I had already been experimenting with aperture the last month or so, and thus, I had this photo ready, (unknowingly), for this challenge. To me, it seems to encapsulate the beauty of our Australian family Christmases with the various Scandinavian traditions inextricably entwined with typically Australian ones.

Xmas 2013I used a low f stop to blur the background and make the Danish and Swedish decorations stand out.

To help me learn aperture settings and meanings I jotted down these notes from Photography 101 ‘focus’ tips found here

Shallow depth of field – bigger aperture – lower f number,
Deeper depth of field – smaller aperture – high f number.

Deep focus for landscape, architecture, interior design,
Shallow or short focus for sports, food or people.

The closer you are to the object, the less the depth of field,
The further away you are, the greater the depth of field in an image.

In my second photo, there was no study of depth of field, it is posted because it is one of the weirdest “objects” I have seen on my travels. It is the sort of thing that seem like a good idea at the time, that is: to advertise a fish shop, with an enormous fibreglass prawn, but then, when the fish shop closes……

They grow 'em big in Australia

What happened to the Big Prawn? Something to Ponder about.

Daily Post is found here.

http://esengasvoice.wordpress.com/2014/01/31/weekly-photo-challenge-object/

http://flickrcomments.wordpress.com/2014/01/31/weekly-photo-challenge-object/

http://hopethehappyhugger.wordpress.com/2014/01/31/weekly-photo-challenge-object/

http://sustainabilitea.wordpress.com/2014/01/31/weekly-photo-challenge-object/

http://perceptivepotcluelesskettle.wordpress.com/2014/01/31/weekly-photo-challenge-object/

http://travelsandtrifles.wordpress.com/2014/01/31/weekly-photo-challenge-object/

http://moondustwriter.com/2014/01/31/photo-challengeobject-photography/

http://hamburgundmeehr.wordpress.com/2014/01/31/weekly-photo-challenge-object/

http://oneobserving.wordpress.com/2014/01/31/object/

http://decocraftsdigicrafts.wordpress.com/2014/01/31/weekly-photo-challenge-object/

http://ceenphotography.com/2014/01/31/weekly-photo-challenge-object/

http://smallbluegreenwords.wordpress.com/2014/01/31/weekly-photo-challenge-object/

http://redstuffdan.wordpress.com/2014/01/31/weekly-photo-challenge-object/

http://punctalucis.com/2014/01/31/weekly-photo-challenge-object-fiery-fluorite/

http://syllabubsea.wordpress.com/

http://lenzexperiments.wordpress.com/2014/02/01/weekly-photo-challenge-object/

http://mikehardisty.wordpress.com/2014/02/01/weekly-photo-challenge-object/

Community

Travel theme: Illuminated

Travel theme: Illuminated

A different Christmas tree in New Zealand – illuminated

New Zealand 2013 219Christmas lights in New Zealand

TivoliThe Tivoli, Denmark – Christmas time

Join in with Ailsa’s theme from Where’s My Backpack.

Join in here: wheresmybackpack.com/2014/01/10/travel-theme-illuminated/

More participants:

http://geophiliac.wordpress.com/2014/01/10/travel-theme-illuminated/

http://hamburgundmeehr.wordpress.com/2014/01/14/travel-theme-illuminated/

https://blu178.mail.live.com/default.aspx?id=64855#n=1689152528&fid=1&mid=fb0311fc-7be6-11e3-9b7c-00237de3f15a&fv=1

Something to ponder about.

Community, History & Traditions

Christmas Traditions – Merry Christmas and God jul to All

Everyone has certain traditions surrounding Christmas or Juletide. Some come from one’s own heritage, or upbringing, whilst others have more modern origins.xmascollage5Likewise in our house, we have a mix of Danish/Australian traditions and some we have created ourselves like the fact that we always have lollie jars for the kids and candy ‘teeth’ sweets and bon bon hats are a must. (Nothing like pretending you have a large overbite and wear pointed paper hats for a good laugh).  Traditionally Danish Christmas eve Dinner is held on December 24th, and accordingly we open one present after dinner, and then follow Australian traditions of opening the rest of the presents on the morning of December 25. The lollie jars started out with dinner, when the kids were young, but even so, my big kids, a.k.a. men, still ask for them. 🙂

xmas2013

Christmas day Dec 25, itself, might be spent visiting relatives or playing water volleyball in the backyard swimming pool, seeing relatives, or trying to keep cool in the sweltering heat. Notoriously Christmas day can be around 37 degrees celsius, so one sits inside with the air con on ‘high cool’, lying around watching old home videos that make one laugh and sometimes, cry.

There are , however, some more unusual traditions than ours. For example:

Austrian Christmas - Krampus
My encounter with the Krampus in Austria

Based on old Germanic folklore, Austrians, (not to be confused with Australians, who have the kangaroos),  start celebrating Christmas on December 5, with Santa’s evil twin, the “Krampus”, a devil like figure with horns, which roams the streets with his evil accomplice, (who brandishes a whip and stick amd threatens naughty children who’ve misbehaved throughout the year).  Traditionally, young men dress up with the hairy ‘Krampus’ masks and roam the streets creating havoc, hitting people with sticks. An excuse for outlandish drunken behaviour, methinks. But it is tradition, designed to make children toe the line for the next year. Luckily, when I met the Krampus, he was in a good mood and without his heinous accomplice!

Other strange Christmas traditions I found on openjourneys.com

In Czech republic on Christmas Eve, “unmarried Czech women practice a traditional fortune telling method to predict their relationship status for the upcoming year. If you’d like to give this a try, here’s how to do it: Stand with your back to your door and toss one of your shoes over your shoulder. If it lands with the toe facing the door it means that you will get married within the year. If it lands with the heel facing the door, you’re in for another year of unmarried status“.

In Japan, children eat Kentucky Fried Chicken on Christmas Day!

In Catalonia, life at Christmas is surely different:

Caga Tió, the pooping log, is a bizarre Christmas tradition. It starts with a hollowed out log, which is propped up on four little leg-like sticks and then painted to have a face. Every night, beginning December 8th, Caga Tió is “fed” and covered with a blanket (so that he doesn’t catch a cold). On Christmas Eve or Christmas day Caga Tió is put in the fireplace, beaten with a stick and ordered to “poop”. He is encouraged, along with the beating, by singing songs with catchy lyrics such as:Caga Tio, Catalonia, Spain

caga tió (poop log)
caga torró (poop turrón)
avellanes i mató (hazelnuts and cottage cheese)
si no cagues bé (if you don’t poop well)
et daré un cop de bastó. (I’ll hit you with a stick.)
caga tió!” (poop log!)

When he is done pooing candies, nuts and such, Caga Tió will then give one last push to reveal an onion, a head of garlic or a salt herring.” (from openjourneys.com)

In Caracas, Venezuela, church-goers attend an early morning mass between December 16th and December 24th. Not so strange for a mostly Catholic population. What is unusual about this practice is how everyone gets to church: on roller skates. The streets are blocked off to vehicular traffic until 8 am and children, the night before, tie one end of a piece of string to their big toes and hang the other end out the window. As roller skaters go by the next morning, they give a tug to all the strings hanging out the windows.”  That is one way to get the kids up and going to Church.

Nisse

Then there is always the Nisser in Danmark and Norway, which must be kept happy. Tradition dictates that one must leave a bowl of risengrøt or rice porridge to the little nisse/elf, that lives in the barn, so that he may bring good luck to all. Otherwise, he may play some naughty tricks on the home owners.El Caganer, Spain

Perhaps the strangest of all, is the ones found in “parts of Spain, Portugal and Italy, is to set up a model village of Bethlehem.

Along with Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus, a Caganer, or “Shitter” in English, is placed in the scene. The Caganer is a figurine, traditionally of a man, in the act of defecating, pants around his knees bending over with pile of feces at his heels. He is usually placed in a corner, perhaps because he needs privacy. The Caganer has been around for a few hundred years and in recent times it has evolved from a traditionally dressed man taking care of business to figurines of celebrities, nuns, politicians and Santa Claus.” (source: openjourneys.com)

And I thought my tradition of having candy teeth at Christmas time, was a little weird!!

Do you have unusual traditions at your house? Something I’ll ponder about.Blog pics 020

Whatever your tradition, may your Christmas be a happy and healthy one, full of fond memories, and love and peace. Glaedelig jul, God jul, Merry Christmas to you all.