How We Celebrate Christmas
CRL Recruitment has over 200 employees. We have decided to break that number down into percentages:
50% of our work force comes from Ireland, 20% from Brazil and 30% from Eastern Europe (10% Poland, 10% Romania and 10% Lithuania)
We will show you how each nationality celebrates Christmas.
There is an old tradition, that in some Irish houses, people put a tall, thick candle on the sill of the largest window in the house after sunset on Christmas Eve. The candle is left to burn all night and represents a welcoming light for Mary and Joseph.
Children hope that Santa will visit them on Christmas Eve with presents, which they open on Christmas Day. The day after Christmas Day, St. Stephen’s Day, is also very important in Ireland. Football matches and horse racing meetings are traditionally held on St. Stephen’s Day.
One very old tradition in Ireland, which is only celebrated in some counties, is the Wren Boys Procession, which takes place on St. Stephen’s Day. This goes back to the time when real wren was killed and carried around in a holly bush. Some processions still take place, but no wren is hunted or used. Young men and women dress up in home-made costumes and go from house to house carrying a long pole with a holly bush tied to its top and singing a rhyme about a wren bird.
Traditional Christmas food in Ireland includes a round cake, full of caraway seeds. One is traditionally made for each person in the house. The traditional Christmas dinner consists of a turkey, sometimes spiced beef and a Christmas pudding for dessert.
Many Brazillian Christmas traditions come from Portugal as Portugal ruled Brazil for many years.
Nativity scenes (Presépio) are very popular in Brazil at Christmas. They are set up in homes and churches all through December. People usually go to a Midnight Mass Service (Missa do Galo – Mass of the Roster) which usually finishes around 1am. After the mass there are often big firework displays.
In Brazil, Santa Claus is called Papai Noel and Bom Velhinho (Good Old Man). Sometime children leave a sock near a window. If Papai Noel finds your sock, he’ll exchange it for presents.
Traditional Christmas foods in Brazil include: pork, turkey, ham, salads, fresh and dried fruits. Everything is served with rice cooked with raisins. Popular Christmas desserts include ice cream.
The meal is normally served around 10pm on Christmas Eve and exactly at midnight people have a toast wishing each other Happy Christmas, and exchange presents.
In Poland, Advent marks the beginning of Christmas Time. It is a time when people try not to have excess of anything and try to remember the real reason for Christmas.
There is the tradition of “roraty”. These are special masses held at dawn and dedicated to Mary for receiving the good news from angel Gabriel. That is when children go to church with lanterns. Before Christmas, children in school and preschools take part in “Jaselka” which are Nativity Plays. The smell of tangerines in schools or workplaces is thought to mean that Christmas time has started.
Christmas Eve is known as Wigilia. Traditionally, the house is cleaned and everyone wears their best clothes. The Christmas meal is eaten in the evening as tradition says that no food is to be eaten until the first star is seen in the sky, as Christmas Eve is the day of fasting and sunset marks the end of church day.
Traditionally, there are 12 dishes on the table, these are meant to give you good luck for the 12 months ahead. This can also symbolise Jesus’s 12 disciples. Everyone is to eat, or at least try, some of each dish. The meal is meat free to remember the animals that took care of baby Jesus in the manger. Some people say that at midnight the animals can talk.
Christmas celebrations last from December 20th to January 7th. December 20th is when people celebrate St. Ignatius’s Day.
Sfantul Nicolae’s Day (St. Nicholas) is celebrated on the 6th December. On the evening of the 5th December, children clean their shoes and leave them by the door. Sfantul Nicolae or Moş Nicolae (Old Man Nicholas) leaves them some small presents. It is said that if it snows on December 6th, Sfantul Nicolae has shaken his beard so that winter can begin.
Christmas tree is usually decorated on the 24th December. On Christmas Eve, children go from house to house singing carols in return for sweets, fruit and money. A traditional Romanian Carol is the “Star Carol”. A star made out of coloured paper decorated with tinsel is attached to a long pole. This star accompanies people during the process of carol singing. The star usually has a picture of the nativity scene attached to its centre.
Christmas dinner is a rich, multi-course meal which includes food such as: roasted pork, pickled vegetables and lots of home-made wine.
In Lithuania, Christmas Eve is more important than Christmas Day. Kūčios is the name for Christmas Eve and for the name of the Christmas Eve meal. Before the meal can be eaten the whole house is cleaned and everyone puts on clean clothes. Many people fast during the day. The Kūčios meal does not contain any meat.
Some of the traditional decorations on the Christmas table include straw. It is usually placed under a tablecloth. Once that is done, the table is decorated with candles and small branches from fir tree. This reminds people of baby Jesus lying in the manger. People believe that if you pull a piece of straw from under the tablecloth and the straw is long, you will have a long life. If the straw is thick you will have a rich and happy life.
The meal starts when the first star is seen in the sky. The meal normally has 12 dishes, each representing Jesus’s 12 disciples. None of the dishes contain meat. Traditional and popular dishes include fish, small pastries in poppy milk (kūčiukai) and kisielius which is a drink made from cranberries. Sweet dishes are also eaten, these include kissel which is a fruit jelly thickened with potato flour) and fruit compote.
After the meal Santa Clause visits children with presents and people exchange presents between them. When the presents have been exchanged, children often go to bed and the adults go to Midnight Mass or Shepherd’s Mass (Bernelių mišios) leaving a set table. It is believed that this is when the souls of our departed loved ones visit our house and the set table would make them feel welcome.
We would like to wish you Merry Christmas, Nollaig Shona Duit, Feliz Natal, Wesołych Świąt, Crăciun Fericit, Linksmų Kalėdų!