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It’s the most traditional time of the year

11th Dec 2016

Have you been to a Christmas market yet? The smell of gluhwein and delectable German sausages being cooked outdoors in the winter chill are now becoming a regular part of our Christmas rituals. Almost as synonymous with the deep midwinter as the other Germanic import, the Christmas tree. Christmas is always full of traditions, many of which we have imported from other countries. But here’s some traditions practiced in other lands you might not find so readily in Britain.

Worried in case you’ve been too naughty to make it onto Santa’s list this year? In Austria, Germany, and other parts of central Europe you’ve got reason to be! You could be visited by Krampus, the half goat/half demon anti Santa, who will fill your shoes with coal as a punishment for your ill deeds. Be warned!

Flaming Festivities
In Sweden, prepare to smell a lot of melting wax (and hopefully not too much burning hair) on December 13th. St Lucia’s day is a popular celebration in the festive calendar, and commemorates a 4th century saint who would smuggle food to Christian martyrs in Rome. To make sure she had both hands free to carry goods, she wore candles on her head to light her way. Girls in Sweden celebrate the day by wearing white dresses with red sashes, and wreaths of real lit candles around their heads. Keep a fire blanket close by if you fancy trying this tradition!

In Finland, the legend of Father Christmas and his sleigh has a more unusual origin. They say it comes from Joulupukki, literally the Christmas goat. The story is that the goat would frighten people into giving him presents, a story that gradually turned into the legend of the figure that gives presents, instead of taking them.

Bread Money
Planning to spend Christmas in Macedonia? They celebrate the season a little later than us, on January 5th, with bonfires and outdoor feasting. One item to be sampled is the Christmas bread, into which is baked a coin. The bread is passed around, and it’s said the person who finds the coin will have good luck for the forthcoming year. Better make the emergency dental appointment in advance, just in case!

Of course, you’ll have noticed that Edinburgh’s Christmas is now in full swing! It’s a great excuse to visit the city centre with lots of shopping, festive food and the Street of Lights. While you’re here you could always join us for a walking tour of Edinburgh to keep you warm in over the festive period. You may even learn a thing or two about this wonderful city. 

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