2# The legend of Candy Cane

Along with candles, wreaths, stars, bells and mistletoes, there is another ubiquitous decorative item for Christmas, one of the favorite for children: the candy cane. In fact, it is so popular that it is one of the most visible items in any decoration, from Christmas tree, to restaurants or the shop windows. They can be hung with colorful ribbons and can be used to decorate almost anything, from an entire room to a cake or a tree. The candy cane is simple, eye-catching, and what’s more, it’s tasty. Though candy…

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6# Samichlaus, the beer from Austria brewed only on Saint Nicholas’s Day.

Like Santa Claus, the brewers of Samichlaus beer carry out a very special task each December, when Austria’s Schloss Eggenberg brewery prepares a batch of Samichlaus on Saint Nicholas’s Day, just today, December 6! Samichlaus (Santa Claus in English) then is aged for 10 months, to be released the following winter and the result is a lager with notes of raisin, malt, and caramel. At 14 percent alcohol by volume, the drink, made in the a very strong style known as doppelbock, was once considered the strongest beer in the…

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5# Sinterklaas Pepernoten – Netherlands

Pepernoten (literally pepper nuts) are little, brown spice cookies very popular before and during the Dutch holiday Sinterklaasavond, or Saint Nicholas’s Eve. Sinterklaasavond occurs on the night of December 5 when the patron saint of children, Sinterklaas (de Sint, or formally: Sint Nicolaas, from whom the modern Santa Claus evolved), distributes presents and sweet treats across the country. Sinterklaas is an elderly, stately and serious man with white hair and a long, full beard, supposed to live in Spain. He wears a long red cape with golden fringes over a…

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4# Christmas Cake and Cheese: a big deal in Yorkshire – England!

Yorkshire, a historic county of Northern England and the largest in the United Kingdom, has its a curious variety of weird and wonderful traditions often unknown on the rest of the world. There is also one festive custom which probably is set to take dinner tables by storm, in future. The poor fruitcake has gotten a bad rap over the past few decades, and it is not just a cellophane package. Probably people misunderstand its booze-infused density and fruitiness, chalking up the decision to give such a gift as nothing…

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3# From the bathtub to the table: Christmas Eve Carp!

There are many ways to ensure your meal is fresh: first, you can grow it yourself, or you can buy it directly from the farm. Or you can take it home alive and let it swim in your bathtub! The latter method is a Christmas Eve carp tradition in Slovakia, Poland, and Czech Republic. For centuries, families throughout much of central Europe have relied on one simple main course for Christmas Eve dinner: the common carp, a symbol of good luck and classic meat-free meal for Christians. Strong Catholic traditions…

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2# Gata at Geghard Monastery – Armenia

We are in the rugged Upper Azat Valley in Armenia, around the entrance to the rock-carved Geghard Monastery. Here you’ll notice elderly ladies clustered around roadside stalls leading to the site, selling round Gata cakes inscribed with patterns and intricate Armenian script. The glazed pastry, made with simple ingredients, has a crusty texture that’s soft once you bite into it, and is stuffed with a sweet filling, called khoriz, made from a fluffy mixture of flour, butter, and sugar, with a consistency of baked custard. Even if styles will vary…

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1# Christmas Risengrød, the Danish rice pudding that appeases wicked elves!

In Denmark, the tradition of eating rice pudding, or risengrød, on Christmas starts with a mischievous elf. In many European countries, traditions linked to Christmastime feature magical creatures who are slightly less benevolent than the American version of Santa and his elves. In fact, it seems that many of these curious sprites, in fact, are trying to steal or otherwise make trouble for people. Danish folklore features a gnome or elf-like creature known as “nisse”, who lives in barns and becomes particularly exuberant during the Christmas season. If treated well,…

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25# Merry Christmas to everybody!

Thanks to everyone for the many visits and appreciation to our advent calendar. Next year we will try to invent something new. Keep following us!!! Merry Christmas and a happy new year from me and all our fantastic collaborators! děkuju vám a přeju pohodové prožití vánočních svátků a úspěšný nový rok pro vás i vaše hosty! Pavel 🇨🇿 – Честита Коледа и Весела Нова Година! Пожелавам ти една Вълшебна Коледа, изпълнена с много приятни емоции и незабравими преживявания! (Ivan 🇧🇬) – This festive season is so much more than Christmas…

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24# The true story of Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer~

24 December! We now know that Christmas is associated with various legends and mythical and unusual characters since time immemorial. Among these, we have not yet speak about Rudolph, popularly known as “Santa’s ninth reindeer”. Rudolph is depicted as a reindeer with a glowing red nose, and is one of Santa Claus’s prized reindeers. Known for pulling Santa’s sleigh on Christmas, Rudolph’s nose is believed to light the path while Santa goes from house to house, placing gifts under the Christmas tree. There have been various television shows, movie, comics…

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23# Christmas around the world: traditions and customs from Canada~

Yes, it seems that today is my turn! Even if I come from different countries, and you don’t ask me the reason, today I’ll talk you about Christmas in Canada, the country where I was born. Today Christmas is celebrated in various ways and in particular traditions come from the French, British and American traditions. Christmas is generally defined as the Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus, but the feast has complex origins and ambiguous non-religious resonances. The origin of the name Christmas is the Old English Crïstes mæsse,…

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22# Silent Night and the Christmas truce.

This story is probably another chapter in the book of the countless Christmas legend, and another checkbox in our advent calendar! It was 1914 ,and soldiers on both sides of the battlefield somewhere in France were enduring a dark and frozen Christmas Eve night. During World War I, the Great War, eventually more than 10 million people died, and it is doubtless that the men of that Christmas Eve were contemplating much more beyond their longings for home and warmth and family. When soldiers on the German line placed candles…

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21# I tell you the very first American Christmas!

Once upon a time, in 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean…..but not only all historians are really agree upon when it comes to the character of Christopher Columbus! There are really lot of historical proof that the first exploration of North America happened nearly 500 years before Columbus by Norse explorers who landed in modern day Newfoundland, or another stories…for example, do you remember the story of Madoc? But even if proof exists that Columbus was not the first one here, exists some proof that Columbus was the first to celebrate…

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20# The Halifax Christmas Disaster of 1917

The northern seaport city of Halifax, Nova Scotia on the eastern Canadian sea board, was recently in the news for the commemorative events surrounding the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. Halifax was in fact the city of rescue for the Titanic, and more than 100 victims from the sinking are buried there, forever making the city a tourist destination for Titanic’s story enthusiasts. But there is another story, happened just five short years after the so famous sinking of the Titanic. December 1917. All we know the…

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19# I Saw three ships….

When thinking of Christmas, we think of Santa Claus, nativity, Christmas trees, lights….but when thinking of Christmas at sea, we probably immediately think of the traditional carol “I Saw Three Ships”. Did you know this song? Repeatedly made popular by interpretations in modern recording ranging from Sting to Amy Grant to traditional orchestras, it is a tune dating back to the 17th century. But the truth is that nobody really knows who wrote it or even what it entirely means. The lyrics have confounded historians for centuries and it is…

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18# Why Christmas is celebrated on 25th December?

According to popular tradition, Christmas is celebrated on 25th December to celebrate the birth of Jesus. However, no records exist in the Bible or elsewhere to suggest that Jesus was actually born on this date, which raises an important question: why is Christmas celebrated on 25 th December? According to Catholic Encyclopaedia “there is no month in the year to which respectable authorities have not assigned Christ’s birth“. However there are lot of reasons to suggest that Jesus was probably not born in December. Firstly, Luke, in his gospel wrote…

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17# Christmas Around the World: Czech traditions and Superstitions.

Christmas is coming, and today is already December 17th! We are very happy because our advent calendar is truly appreciated by readers from all over the world, and every day we have really lot of visitors! Our collaborators have already tells about Christmas in Slovenia, Milanese Panettone and the traditional Christmas market in Milan, and Christmas traditions in Bulgaria. So, Christmas is coming. It’s time to slow down, be more good (maybe), recharge batteries and spend some time with the closest friends, family, but also have fun with some Czech…

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16# Rare Vintage Photos of Christmas From the Victorian Era

It’s hard to imagine now, but at the beginning of the 19th century Christmas was hardly celebrated. However by the end of the century it had become the biggest annual celebration: many attribute the change to Queen Victoria, and it was her marriage to the German-born Prince Albert that introduced some of the most usual aspects of Christmas. In 1848 the Illustrated London News published a drawing of the royal family celebrating around a decorated Christmas tree, a tradition that was reminiscent of Prince Albert’s childhood in Germany. Soon every…

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15# Christmas around the world: Bulgaria.

Many countries in Eastern Europe celebrate Christmas on January 7th because most Orthodox Churches use still today the old Julian Calendar, but the Bulgarian Orthodox Church uses the Gregorian calendar, so Christmas is celebrated on the 25th December. For many Bulgarians, the preparations for Christmas start with Advent, which lasts 40 days in the Orthodox Church and starts on November 15th. According to one legend, Mary started her labor on Ignazhden, December 20th (Saint Ignatius of Antioch’s Day) and she gave birth on Christmas Eve but the birth of Jesus…

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14# The Christmas Spectre of Clarence Street.

There is an old house in Liverpool’s Clarence Street that is the theater of supernatural unrest every time the festive season is upon us. Here are heard the sounds of a disgruntled voice cursing a long-dead man named Charles and it happen on the Christmas Eve, when the ruffled ghost puts in an appearance. He is a man of around 50 years of age who wears a long purple velveteen coat, a grey waistcoat, and a pair of long narrow trousers. Over the years lot of people have seen him…

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13# Saint Lucy’s Day: traditions of the world

Today 13 December is celebrate Saint Lucy’s Day, a Christian feast day commemorating Saint Lucy, a 3rd-century martyr under the Diocletianic Persecution, who according to the legend brought food and aid to Christians hiding in the catacombs, using a candle-lit wreath to light her way and leave her hands free to carry as much food as possible. She was one of the earliest Christian martyrs, and was killed by the Romans in 304 CE because of her religious beliefs. Before calendar reforms, her feast once coincided with the Winter Solstice,…

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12# The dark side of Christmas: The Christmas monsters That Will Give You Nightmares!

Times ago Christmas was not dominated only by gifts and good intentions as we know it today. Many of the pagan myths regarding this specific period of the year often featured characters that connoted the Christmas of dark tones. The origins of today’s Christmas traditions see their roots sink in antiquity, and it is interesting to know that the modern icon of “Santa Claus” dates back only to the second half of the 800, invented by the designer Thomas Nast. In some countries these ancient traditions have survived, and for…

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11# Christmas around the world: Oh Bej! Oh Bej! Christmas Market in Milan, Italy.

In Milan, the most traditional and most popular of all the events in the Christmas time is the Oh Bej! Oh Bej! Christmas market which, for five centuries, has rung in the Milanese festive season with candies, surprises and of all kinds of gifts. Organized in honour of the city’s patron, Sant’Ambrogio, it is celebrated on December 7th, lasts until the next sunday and it attracts thousands of tourists every year. It is a must-see for both Milanese, tourists and curious. In the market is possible search for the perfect…

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10# The dark side of Christmas: In Iceland, Gryla is the most renowned figures associated with Christmas.

If in Iceland there is a well-known museum of witchcraft, you probably do not know yet these bizarre characters related to the Icelandic Christmas tradition. A few days ago, I introduced you to Krampus, Santa’s horned helpers, but they are not the only characters who create a Christmas “a few” different to the one we are all used to. The Icelandic Christmas period is an interesting mix of religious practice and traditional folklore, and as many countries do, people celebrates mostly with good food and gifts to loved ones. But…

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9# The ancient origins of Christmas tree.

The Christmas tree is probably one of the most traditional symbols of Christmas, and evert year we see it on greeting cards, advertisements, cookies, wrapping paper, and, of course, in all shopping centers and in the homes of millions of people around the world. But why we decorate a tree, apart from the fact that it always brings a little bit of Christmas atmosphere at home? The evergreen fir tree has traditionally been used to celebrate winter festivals (pagan and Christian) for thousands of years. While the celebration of Christmas…

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8# Christmas around the world: Slovenian traditions.

After the legend of Sunken Bell in Bled, today, I’d like to share with you some of the most common Slovenian traditions and customs, celebrated around the Christmas time. All we know that Christmas is both cultural than religious holiday celebrated all around the world. In reality this tradition come from the pre-Christian times, when the old pagan people celebrated the Winter solstice, and since solstice the day was becoming longer: they believed that it was a clear sign of “good” winning over the “evil”. Only later Christmas became a…

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7# The Dark Side of Christmas: Krampus, Santa’s horned helper!

In ancient times, a dark, hairy, horned beast was said to show up at the door to kidnap children. The Krampus could be heard in the night by the sound of his echoing cloven hooves and his rattling iron chains. All interesting….but the strangest part is that he is, like Santa Claus, part of Christmas! However, this beast was no a demon. He was the mythical Krampus, companion to Saint Nicholas (known as Santa Claus, Father Christmas, Kris Kringle, etc.). While Saint Nicholas has the reputation of loving all children…

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6# St.Nicholas: the man behind Santa Claus.

Today, on 6 December, the Church celebrates the feast day of one of the most popular saints throughout the world, St. Nicholas. In the United States, St. Nicholas is typically associated with Santa Claus in songs, Christmas carols and traditions, however, St. Nicholas and Santa Claus are far from being synonymous. St. Nicholas was a Bishop who lived in the fourth century in a place called Myra in Asia Minor (now Turkey), therefore there is little that we can know with certainty about this legendary saint. He was a very…

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5# Milanese Panettone: history, legends and traditions.

If at Christmas, Americans enjoy pumpkin pie, the English have plum or Christmas pudding, all the Italians celebrate with panettone. Just the mention of this sweet Milanese speciality conjures up the aromas of citrus, vanilla, candied fruit and typical italian Christmas. In Italy, giving panettone is not a simple act of kindness but a gesture rich in history and tradition. Historically, it seems that the Panettone dates back as far as the Middle Ages when to celebrate Christmas, people would replace their daily bread with a richer recipe, a practice…

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4# The Legend of Sunken Bell

Every year at Lake Bled, Slovenia, divers go on a quest to recover the bell that ended up on the bottom of the lake, in front of a crowd of numerous visitors cheer them on from the lake shore. According to the legend, around the year 1500, the lord of Lake Bled at the time, Hartman Kreigh, disappeared. People said that he may have been killed by robbers and his body was thrown into the lake. At the Bled Castle, Poliksena, also known as the lady of the lake, and…

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2# Thomas Nast: the cartoonist who invented the Modern Icon of Santa Claus.

At the beginning of the nineteenth century, Santa Claus was still a character to be defined. What could he wear? In magazines people did not know how to draw him, whether as Bishop St Nicholas, or like an Elf with green spats and trousers. Thomas Nast, a German designer who moved to America, found the solution to all the problems of clothing and appearance of the famous Santa Claus. Thomas Nast’s story began similarly to that of the many migrants who built America during the 19th century. He was born…

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