How is Christmas celebrated in the countries where BeWooden operates?
Christmas in the sauna, 12-course menu for the feast?
This year, Americans, as well as customers from Germany, the Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, Poland Slovakia and Romania will unwrap gifts from the BeWooden workshop under the tree. And because we want to get to know all the countries where the BeWooden brand operates, we decided to interview our foreign colleagues and ask them how they celebrate Christmas.
Traditional wish: „Veselé Vánoce a Šťastný Nový Rok!" ("Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!")
Christmas is celebrated a little differently in the Czech Republic than it is here. The presents are brought by the Christ Child (Ježíšek) and the children unwrap them after the Christmas feast. On Christmas Eve, it is the custom in the Czech Republic for the people to fast until the evening meal, so children are promised that they will see a golden piglet in the evening.
On the table there are dishes such as fish or pea soup, traditionally roasted carp (beware of bones!) and potato salad. Some families buy living carp and put their scales in their purses to ensure their luck next year.
While Czechs prefer a living Christmas tree, it’s not uncommon to come across an artificial one either. When it comes to Christmas tree decorations, lamps and baubles are the most popular. A long tradition, without which Czechs cannot imagine Christmas, is baking Christmas cookies (cukroví). Of course, the traditional Czech fairy tales should not be forgotten.
Christmas in the Czech Republic
Christmas in a country where almost 60% of people consider themselves atheist is primarily a tradition and a celebration for children. Among the most popular Christmas traditions, which are still practiced in many Czech homes to this day, are, for example, lead pouring, letting go boats made of walnut shells into which a candle is out, and shoe throwing (women throw the shoe behind their back, if the shoe falls with the tip to the door, they will get married, if not, they will stay at home). Thus, each family has its own unique traditions to which it adheres.
Typical Christmas phrase: „Pass auf beim Auspacken, das Papier kann nächstes Jahr wiederverwendet werden!“ („Be careful when unwrapping, the paper can be used again next year!“)
Christmas in Germany differs mainly in that it is very planned out and there is a clear schedule.
It is common to choose a Christmas tree together, which is then decorated in the family circle. Christmas Day is marked by family visits and going to church. Gifts are unwrapped after dinner (these are brought by the Christ Child or Santa Claus). Throughout the day there is a peaceful atmosphere in a family, cozy circle.
For dinner there are a traditionally sausages and potato salad, but many families do not follow this tradition and something different is eaten every year.
The typical Christmas decorations in Germany are lights and shining stars. The Christmas tree should be as dense as possible! With a small, but still personal gift, you make the Germans the happiest.
Traditional wish: "Hyvää joulua ja onnellista uutta vuotta!" ("Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!").
In Finland, Joulupukki (literally "Christmas goat") delivers the presents. She is a figure from Scandinavian mythology who looks like a grandfather dressed in goatskin. He lives in Lapland and unlike Santa Claus, Finnish children see him with their own eyes when he hands them the presents. During dinner on Christmas Eve, Joulupukki knocks on the front door and asks if there are good children at home.
A traditional dinner in Finland is reminiscent of a buffet. Everyone can enjoy what they want. On the tables there is roasted ham, vegetable casserole and different kinds of fish. Rice porridge is also eaten, and according to superstition, whoever finds an almond in their bowl gets to make a wish.
Finns usually spend Christmas Day watching TV, but their favorite thing to do is to go to a heated sauna (it really makes us jealous!). Usually, the Christmas tree is planted in one's own garden. Popular gifts include board games or scratch cards.
Traditional wish: "Békés, boldog karácsonyt kívánok!" ("I wish you a peaceful and merry Christmas!").
The Hungarian Christmas is similar to the Czech one. Santa Claus brings presents to the children, Christmas carols are sung, and movies and Christmas fairy tales are shown on TV. Hungarians decorate their tree on Christmas Day, when the whole family has gathered at home. The children unwrap the presents before dinner.
The Christmas meal usually consists of fish soup, stuffed cabbage, fish with rice, chicken or turkey. On the table you can also find a bejgli dessert, which is a poppy seed or walnut strudel. Hungarians drink wine, beer or brandy with the meal on Christmas Eve.
The Christmas tree is different in every family: it can be decorated in traditional colors (red, green, silver and gold) or people use modern colors (white or pastel). Handmade straw ornaments are very popular.
Traditional wish: "Wesołych Świąt i Szczęśliwego Nowego Roku" ("Merry Christmas and Happy New Year").
Christmas in Poland is one of the most important Catholic holidays. Poles fast throughout Christmas, but not because of the golden pig, but because it is a Christian tradition. They sit at the table as soon as the first star appears in the sky. It is a tradition to make an extra place for an unexpected guest. Sometimes hay, a symbol of the birth of Jesus, is placed under a white tablecloth.
Dinner begins with a prayer and reading aloud from the Bible, breaking consecrated wafers. The Polish feast usually has up to 12 courses (number of apostles and months in the year): meals vary by region, they fast and each ingredient has its own symbolism. It is customary to taste each course (so they can succeed throughout the next year).
On the table there is beet and borsch soup served with usskami (noodles stuffed with mushrooms), fish, different kinds of cakes and pigeon cabbage rolls with buckwheat porridge. They eat poppy seed cakes and poppy seed rolls dipped in sweet milk. Drinks include a popular compote of dried fruits. No alcohol is drunk on Christmas Eve.
Poles like to decorate a live tree at home, usually spruce, fir or pine. They use lights and modern ornaments or natural decorations (straw ornaments, dried fruits and candles). A Christmas crib is a traditional decoration in Poland.
And who brings the presents in Poland? This varies depending on the region: somewhere the gifts are brought by St. Mikuláš, but it can also be Děťátko, Hvězdička, Andílek or Gwiazdor. The day ends in Poland at midnight in the church - the so-called Pastewka.
Traditional wish: "Crăciun fericit și un An Nou Fericit!" ("Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!").
Christmas in Romania traditionally begins at the butcher's on December 20. The pork that comes from there appears on the Christmas table in the form of traditional dishes. Christmas vacations in Romania can sometimes last up to three weeks.
On the evening of December 24-25, Romanians decorate their Christmas tree. Popular decorations are angels. People enjoy singing Christmas carols and children dance from house to house. In many parts of Romania, it is a tradition that Christmas carols refer to a particular man: A man in a goat costume and a colorful mask who jumps around wildly, dances and causes trouble.
Moş Crăciun, who drives a sleigh hung with bells, distributes the presents at night. The children unwrap them on the morning of December 25.
Traditional Christmas Eve dishes include sausages, tripe, roast pork, Christmas cake and stuffed cabbage rolls. The feast begins around nine in the evening and ends around midnight. The atmosphere of Romanian Christmas is very cheerful and friendly.
Traditional wish: "Veselé Vianoce a Šťastný Nový Rok!" ("Merry Christmas and Happy New Year").
The Slovaks celebrate their Christmas in a similar way to the Czechs. Santa Claus presents gifts to the children right after dinner. It is customary for people to stay home for Christmas and not go anywhere unless it is necessary. Visits are postponed until the next day. Faithful families go to church to enjoy the light of Bethlehem.
Customs include, for example, putting coins under a tablecloth as a sign of wealth, breaking a wafer smeared with honey (as is also the custom in Poland), and cutting an apple or cracking a nut. A healthy walnut kernel signifies strong health for the family in the New Year. Before dinner, the family usually prays and lights a candle. This stands as a symbol of Christmas.
On the festive table there is a traditional Slovak dish: cabbage soup. Cabbage is usually cooked all day and varies depending on the region - it may contain mushrooms, various meats and sausages, sometimes even plums.
The second course is fish (in some regions carp, but this is not a necessity) and potato salad. Families in southern Slovakia prepare fish soup, while in eastern Slovakia traditional poppy dishes can be found on the table.
Slovaks decorate the Christmas tree according to their own ideas. Some prefer the modern style, others a natural one. Children receive the most gifts and adults tend to exchange gifts among themselves. Socks are a timeless classic, and recently it has become trendy to give cheerful and patterned socks. Slovak Christmas is usually full of fairy tales, eating sweets and singing Christmas carols.
How do you celebrate Christmas at home and what is your favorite Christmas memory? Share your story with us in the comments!