At Christmas we think: peace, light, a new beginning, birth, togetherness, love and of course also cosiness, good food, candles, the Christmas tree and sparkling balls. Everyone experiences Christmas in their own way and for many people Christmas is an important holiday. The birth of Jesus is celebrated by the Christians. Others celebrate the festival of light for two days (25 and 26 December).
The Christmas tree with the beautiful shiny balls, the lights, the cozy gathering ... your child will love it. Make sure he can not get the balls out of the tree.
If your child is still very small, it is not advisable to hang between the balls, chocolate balls in those beautiful silver colored papers. Your child will not know the difference between a chocolate edible ball and a glass ball and can accidentally put a glass ball in his mouth.
To prepare your child for Christmas, you can buy an Advent calendar where your child can open a box every day. There are different types for sale. One has nice places behind the hatches, the other has delicious chocolates.
If your child is a little older, he will find it wonderful to help with the tree or to set up the nativity scene. And of course a beautiful Christmas story can not be missed. When the wind whines around the house, and the rain hits the windows, reading (and listening) to one feelgood Christmas story with hot chocolate at hand, the summit of peace and pleasure.
The origin of the Christmas
The first 200 years after Jesus' birth, Christians did not occupy themselves with his birthday. The birth of Christ took no special place in the ecclesiastical calendar.
Around Midwinter (21 December) the Germans celebrated their midwinter or joeeleesten (winter solstice) where the evil was chased away and the light was greeted.
In the fourth century, Emperor Constantine the Great ensured that Christmas would fall on December 25th. On that date the sun god (Ra in Egypt, Helios in Greece, Sol Invictus in the Roman Empire) was worshiped. Since Jesus was called 'The Light of the World', Constantine decided that he should have been born around these holidays.
25th of December
Christmas is celebrated in the Christian world on December 25, except in the Eastern Orthodox churches (like the Russian Orthodox Church), where it falls two weeks later. In many regions there are also special celebrations on the night before (Christmas Eve) and / or on the day after.
In the Netherlands and Flanders, December 25 is considered 1st Christmas Day and December 26th as Boxing Day.
Meaning of Christmas
The word 'Christmas' actually means 'Christmus-mis'. According to Christians and orthodox people, this festival is only devoted to Christ and is composed of the words 'Christmas' and 'Mass'. The word 'Christmas' originated - probably in Flanders - from the word Christ; for example, "Christian" means "to make Christian". The 'mass' is the Christian celebration of the sacrifice of the Eucharist.
Tasty recipes for Christmas
Children love to watch when you cook in the kitchen. All those wonderful things and interesting devices, all those nice smells and all that between snacking and tasting ... Your child is curious and would like to help.
Help out… ? But you have to make a Christmas dinner for ten people for tomorrow night and the last help you can use is that of your toddler!
Cooking with kids
Yet cooking with kids is fun, if you have at least the time and the patience. You can also keep it very simple. An ice cream with a paper parasol, some fruit, whipped cream and a burning star always works well: simply and successfully insured. When you cream puffs - fresh or simply a pack from the freezer - pile up on a bowl and shower with hot chocolate, you get a super simple whipped cream cake that every child likes. You can spray it with whipped cream and garnish with nephulst leaves, silver pearls or pieces of fake gold leaf (at most supermarkets available in different variations). You can also use the leftover money coins from Sinterklaas ...
The origin of the Christmas tree
The Christmas tree was there before Jesus was born. The use of a Christmas tree with parcels was in use more than 1000 years before Christ in pagan religions.
Spruce was the symbol of growth and flowering in the Germanic pre-Christian tribes during the celebration of the shortest day. In the fifth century the spruce resurfaced as Booms of life in German churches. The peak pointed to the saving star and the apples were symbolic of sin. Charlemagne, however, forbade the establishment of a Christmas tree in the ninth century. In the tenth century, Martin II did the same in Italy.
Martin Luther was one of the first to place candles in the Christmas tree. The lights in the tree pointed to Jesus, The Light of the World.
Types of Christmas trees
In the Netherlands there are six types of trees for sale:
- Concolor (for sale in a pot)
- Conica (for sale in a pot)
- Spruce (for sale in a pot, with a root ball or sawed off)
- Koreana (for sale in a pot or with a root ball)
- Nordman (for sale in a pot)
- Omorika (for sale in a pot, clod and sawn)
How is the Christmas tree decorated?
In America everything is possible. You can decorate the tree on the basis of old traditions, which originate in the land of your 'roots'. But Americans do have a preference for colorful, padded textile figures and / or toy figures made of wood. Usually these are decorated with bows, colors and other decorations. You can also find cookies in the tree.
Danes like to make their own decoration. There are even special cut and paste days for this! The ornaments are often made of straw (cherubs, birds, stars and flags), pine cones (squirrels), walnut caps (boats) and red-white hearts of woven paper.
In Germany, children bake (pepper) cakes in all kinds of forms. These are then glazed and hung in the tree.
In India banana trees are decorated with mango leaves and oil lamps.
In Jamaica, the Christmas cactus is hung with painted, blown eggs.
Everything is possible in the Netherlands. Most people decorate their Christmas tree with traditional Christmas balls and garlands. But it is also possible to decorate your tree with feathers, figurines, Christmas wreaths, homemade decorations and much more.
In Poland the Christmas trees are decorated with homemade garlands and paper clippings. Also, in the trees food is hung like: apples, nuts and sweets.
Czech Republic and Slovakia
In these countries the Christmas ornaments are made of paper, papier-mâché and straw.
The Icelandic children braid colorful tidy stuffed with goodies and hung in the tree.
The origin of the Christmas ball
Christmas balls are not just of our time. The transparent ball dates from more than 300 years ago. Then these balls were known under the name 'witch ball'. These balls were very popular in the 18th century in England, but their actual origin is much older. For more than 300 years these glass balls have been hung in front of the windows to ward off curses, evil spirits and misfortune.
What exactly is Advent?
Advent Christmas is preceded by Advent (= Meeting). During the Advent, Christians are awaiting the coming of Jesus. Advent starts on the fourth Sunday before Christmas (the beginning of the ecclesiastical year) and lasts until Christmas Eve. Children get an Advent calendar with a 'door' for every day that has something nice hidden behind it. An Advent wreath with four red or yellow candles is placed. The first candle is lit on Advent Sunday and every Sunday after it is lit a candle extra.
Christmas markets are held everywhere during the Advent period. For example, buses depart full of Dutch people every day to the famous Christmas market in Dusseldorf. All in all, many tens of thousands of Dutch people visit the Christmas markets in the Netherlands and Germany every year.
The origin of the nativity scene
In Catholic countries there is a lot of attention for Christmas stalls, but Protestants (especially in America) are also getting more and more interested in this. This tradition has no connection with paganism.
Francis of Assisi came up with the idea in 1223 to set up a living Christmas in the village of Greccio (Italy).
Did you know that the Ox and the Donkey do not have biblical origins? They were placed by a sentence from the Old Testament. The prophet Isaiah says here: 'A bovine knows his owner and a donkey the manger of his master, but Israel has no understanding, my people have no insight'.
There are many different types of nativity scenes. You can buy them ready-made, but of course you can also make your own twigs and straws. The nativity scene can be arranged at the same time or you can choose to extend the barn every day with a new image. Eventually the baby Jesus will be put in his manger on Christmas night.
Christmas habits in other countries
America and England
In England and America people hang mistletoe at home. The mistletoe (also called bird glue or mistletoe) is the symbol of friendship. A girl who is accidentally (?) Under the mistletoe may be kissed by a boy. And vice versa, of course. Also in America Santa Claus comes along, with his reindeer riding a sleigh full of gifts. Children may hang a long sock under the chimney that Santa Claus must fill.
In Brazil no real, but plastic Christmas trees are put in the house. One goes to the night mass, there is eaten and drunk and the presents are unpacked. Then, twelve hours of popping fireworks will be chipped until the next day.
In Denmark, children are visited by the Julemand and his Julenisser. These are gnomes who love children and animals. On Christmas Eve, therefore, a box of sweet porridge is put in front of the door to give the Julenisser a favorable vote.
The Christmas child puts presents under the Christmas tree during the night mass.
France and Portugal
Children put their shoes under the tree in France and Portugal. (Is this not familiar to us? Only children put their shoes with Sinterklaas in front of the chimney or heating). The French Santa has Père Noíl.
On Christmas Eve, Christmas angels put the presents (unpacked) under a tree.
A piata is hanging from the ceiling in Mexico. This is a decoration in the shape of an animal. Children must try to break the piata with a blindfold. When this happens, the candy and toys snow. If you are unlucky, rain water or paper shreds.
In Eastern Europe people fast the day before Christmas, so that the Christmas meal tastes good. People sit down at the table when the first star appears in the sky and at the dinner one chair is released for the Christmas child.
In Austria, children believe in the Christelkind: a naked boy who presents presents. You can hear his arrival by a small bell that he lets ring. The children may appear on this signal and the packages will be ready.
In Poland, straw is laid on the floor and on the table as a reminder of the Bethlehem stable. Optalek (a flat bread in which Christmas figures are printed) is eaten. The bread goes around so that everyone can break a piece. Those who are not at home receive a copy.
In Russia, the gifts are being delivered by Babushka. The story behind this is that Baboeskja (grandmother) gave shelter and food to three richly dressed travelers. This turned out to be the three wise men on the way to Bethlehem afterwards. She quickly followed the sages with a basket full of gifts and bread for the child. But once she arrived in Bethlehem, there was no one left. She placed her presents at the manger and returned home. Once home, she was quickly met by angels.
In Scandinavia the goat plays a big role in the Christmas celebration. The goat would expel evil spirits emerging around the turn of the year. They give each other kids of straw and children dress up like goat.
Icelanders have a nativity scene full of trolls. Those trolls bring gifts in the Christmas night.
The origin of Santa
Santa is a descendant of Sinterklaas. The Sinterklaas use, our Sinterklaas use, is taken by emigrants to America. Sinterklaas soon became Santa Claus. He also looks a bit the same. Santa Claus also has a red suit, a long beard and he also presents gifts.
Did you know?
- The largest Christmas tree in the Netherlands in IJsselstein state? Every year, the TV tower of IJsselstein ('Gerbrandytoren') is decorated with 121 lights. The mast is 375 meters high.
- Almost 3 million Christmas trees are sold every year in the Netherlands. Of these, 60% is with root balls.
- The first 200 years after the birth of Jesus, his birth was not celebrated at all?
- People already 1000 years before the birth of Jesus, had a Christmas tree with packages underneath?
- Santa Claus (Santa Claus) is actually none other than our own Santa Claus?