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Thread: Christmas gift-bringers of Europe

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    3 out of 3 members found this post helpful.

    Christmas gift-bringers of Europe







    More detailed maps for Poland (not all of Poland has Santa, there is a "Santa-Free Zone"):

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/micorasol/23839804431/

    http://spifczyk.tumblr.com/post/1357...-eve-i-grew-up

    "This map is a part of series of maps showing regional variations of who brings presents on Christmas, according to family traditions. Święty Mikołaj (Santa Claus) is the most popular, followed by Gwiazdor (Star-man, popular in Greater Poland and Kashubia), Dzieciątko (Little baby Jesus, popular in Upper Silesia), Aniołek and Gwiazdka (little Angel and little Star, mostly southern Poland)."



    More maps:

    Gwiazdor (Star-Man): https://66.media.tumblr.com/db86cc60...ze0o5_1280.png



    Baby Jesus: https://66.media.tumblr.com/e4d3613d...ze0o3_1280.png



    Little Angel: https://66.media.tumblr.com/32745fab...ze0o1_1280.png



    Gwiazdka (Little Star): https://66.media.tumblr.com/f0182312...ze0o4_1280.png



    Grandpa Frost: https://66.media.tumblr.com/7b4579c9...ze0o2_1280.png



    Saint Nicholas: https://66.media.tumblr.com/5acd93cb...ze0o6_1280.png


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    3 out of 3 members found this post helpful.
    Not completely accurate for Italy.

    I don't know about every place in Italy, but while Babbo Natale has definitely made inroads in Italy, in my family the children still get presents at Epiphany from la Befana. They sometimes get a little something from Babbo Natale too.

    She was my first experience with holiday gift giving, so she still holds a place in my heart. :)

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Befana



    Nowadays she's sometimes portrayed as everyone's cuddly nonna, but that isn't the original version, which was "darker": a good witch, but a witch nonetheless, with gnarly features, covered in soot, etc.





    I think the largest Befana festival is in Urbania in the Marche.


    At our smaller one in rural Parma, we have a lot of fun with making her nose as grotesque as possible. :)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=48JRerFfwQ0

    She often makes her arrival via a high wire. Our local Befana at Equi has a harder job than most.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ilyz3cVZm5A


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    I confirm the persistent tradition of the Befana with those dark features of which Angela writes, a figure probably inherited to archaic pagan cults related to fertility. Let's not forget that it is still celebrated in Rome in Piazza Navona. In some rural areas of northern Italy - especially in the provinces of Bergamo and Brescia - it's Saint Lucia who brings the gifts on December 13.

    In the following paper there are some interesting reflections on the ancient origins of the "Befana"

    https://www.academia.edu/3217971/La_...o_Storico_Luce

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    1 out of 1 members found this post helpful.

    Christmas gift-bringers of Europe

    The Witch Grandmother (La Nonna Strega) is how the Befana is portrayed.
    Traditionally, Jan 6 brings Coal if bad, or Presents if good to Children. (Now the Coal is made of Sugar. :)


    Calling a woman Befana is synonymous for having a bad character and not that attractive.

    “The Befana comes at night with her shoes all broken ...”

    “La Befana vien di notte, con le scarpe tutte rotte ...”
    But you oh Messapo, Tamer of Horses ... that no one, with neither iron nor fire can break down! “Virgil”

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stuvanè View Post
    I confirm the persistent tradition of the Befana with those dark features of which Angela writes, a figure probably inherited to archaic pagan cults related to fertility. Let's not forget that it is still celebrated in Rome in Piazza Navona. In some rural areas of northern Italy - especially in the provinces of Bergamo and Brescia - it's Saint Lucia who brings the gifts on December 13.

    In the following paper there are some interesting reflections on the ancient origins of the "Befana"

    https://www.academia.edu/3217971/La_...o_Storico_Luce
    Grazie. I'll read it with interest.

    Something similar happened with St. Nicholas, an Anatolian Greek Bishop who had nothing cute and cuddly about him.

    He went from this:


    and this...




    The original was not fat and jolly, and, in fact, was a fiery defender of Christianity during the persecutions of Diocletian. It was only in the Middle Ages, when some miracles related to children were associated with him that he ultimately became a "gift giver". That view of him was brought to the New World by the Dutch settlers of New York.

    Thanks to American writers like Washington Irving and especially the writer of "The Night Before Christmas", he did become rosy cheeked and sweet, and got a sleigh. :) Thomas Nast's illustrations took hold of the popular imagination.

    https://news.nationalgeographic.com/...s-st-nicholas/



    It may be because my childhood memories of Christmas don't revolve around him, but I never developed a fondness for him. He has always struck me as silly and superficial, although I never divulged that to my children. :) Plus, who can believe he would leave a child nothing for Christmas? It's much easier to believe that the Befana as she used to be depicted would leave you a big lump of coal and nothing else. She also rings true to me in slightly later incarnations as the irritable old woman obsessively cleaning her house and much too busy to go gallivanting abroad to go see the Christ Child. :)

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    I prefer the goat.

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    2 out of 2 members found this post helpful.
    Really interesting. Thanks everyone for sharing. I had never heard of the Little Angel, Little Star, Christmas gnomes and least of all the Christmas goat (!) bringing presents.

    In Belgium, St Nicholas traditionally brings gifts to children on 6th December. In many families kids get presents both on 6th December and on 25th December, even though Santa Claus (Father Christmas) is just the Protestant version of Saint Nicholas.

    I looked up Befana and it seems to be a corruption of the word Epiphany. The tradition of gift giving just after the New Year comes from the Romans. In ancient Roman religion, Strenua or Strenia was a goddess of the new year. According to Wikipedia:

    "The name Strenia was said to be the origin of the word strenae (preserved in French étrennes and Italian strenne), the new-year gifts Romans exchanged as good omens in an extension of the public rite."

    Indeed, I remember as a child receiving my étrennes from my great-grand-parents, grandparents, grand-uncles and grand-aunts when visiting the family on New Year's Day or in the following days. That ancient Roman tradition seems to have survived in Italy, France and Belgium.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Angela View Post
    Grazie. I'll read it with interest.
    Something similar happened with St. Nicholas, an Anatolian Greek Bishop who had nothing cute and cuddly about him.
    He went from this:

    and this...

    The original was not fat and jolly, and, in fact, was a fiery defender of Christianity during the persecutions of Diocletian. It was only in the Middle Ages, when some miracles related to children were associated with him that he ultimately became a "gift giver". That view of him was brought to the New World by the Dutch settlers of New York.
    Thanks to American writers like Washington Irving and especially the writer of "The Night Before Christmas", he did become rosy cheeked and sweet, and got a sleigh. :) Thomas Nast's illustrations took hold of the popular imagination.
    https://news.nationalgeographic.com/...s-st-nicholas/



    It may be because my childhood memories of Christmas don't revolve around him, but I never developed a fondness for him. He has always struck me as silly and superficial, although I never divulged that to my children. :) Plus, who can believe he would leave a child nothing for Christmas? It's much easier to believe that the Befana as she used to be depicted would leave you a big lump of coal and nothing else. She also rings true to me in slightly later incarnations as the irritable old woman obsessively cleaning her house and much too busy to go gallivanting abroad to go see the Christ Child. :)
    I watched a documentary when I studied at University of Strasbourg about Santa Claus. I can't find this video anymore.

    I remember that the documentary said that St Nicolas turned into father Xmas beacuse of Coca Cola.
    https://www.coca-colacompany.com/sto...re-santa-claus

    St Nicolas used to put oranges and other gifts inside the boots for children when he made the visits. I think the documentary is a production of the ARTE television network, the documentary I watched is in French. They may have a German version of the same documentary, considering that ARTE is a Franco-German free-to-air television network that promotes cultural programming.



    桃李滿天下

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    The Finnish people told me that Santa Claus is from Finland!

    Quote Originally Posted by A. Papadimitriou View Post
    I prefer the goat.
    Apparently, I only just realised the Santa the Finns refer to is a goat! LOL

    The ancestors of the Finnish Santa Claus were nuuttipukkis, St Knut Day’s goat-like creatures that visited homes, but not to give gifts – instead, they asked for food and drink, especially liquor or beer. The St Knut Day’s tradition is still alive in few areas in Satakunta.

    The Finnish Santa Claus has also been greatly influenced by his American colleague. However, the Finnish Santa Claus visits children in person and gives them presents, whereas the American Santa Claus can only be seen in department stores. These personal visits to children’s homes are the most Finnish aspect of our Santa Claus, and it comes from the St Knut Day’s nuuttipukkis. Santa Claus has visited homes since the 1920s, and gradually the tradition became more common through all social classes. In the beginning, Santa Clauses usually visited bourgeois homes. During the wars, Santa Clauses also entertained the troops on the front lines.

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    Quote Originally Posted by A. Papadimitriou View Post
    I prefer the goat.
    You prefer,but it looks that it's not your choice.

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    Something came up on one of my feeds about how after the English Civil War the Roundhead Parliament dominated by "Puritans" (Protestants against the "Popery" in Anglicanism) tried to ban Christmas. They thought it was too bacchanalian, I suppose.

    It was a huge failure. People either ignored it or rioted. They had to rescind it.

    What killjoys. :) That's over and above the fact that they vandalized untold art in the churches of Britain.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dreptul Valah View Post
    You prefer,but it looks that it's not your choice.
    Well, at least if I ever have children I can tell them not to expect any gifts from an obese old man dressed in red.

    -Do not take gifts from strangers!

    I will tell them that some of our pagan ancestors probably had a tradition of gift-giving on the first day of the year. We can do that.

    Here, today, we practically call 'St. Basil' the figure of Father Christmas/Santa Claus popularized by Coca Cola and Hollywood.

    If we need a gift-bringer I prefer the goat.

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    1 out of 1 members found this post helpful.
    La Befana cantando "trullala'"...

    Broken shoes, toothless, and drinking wine. She's a far cry from jolly, pink cheeked Santa.


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    Greetings from the West.

    Merry Christmas dear friends from Europe and from other parts of the world including Australia and Canada, . Have you missed me? me too Thanks. Christmas, Christmas, time of peace for men of good will. In Spain they are the Three Wise Men of the East and really Santa Claus arrived quite late due to the heavy bombardment in the television advertising and the modern parents arrived at the vindication that their children enjoyed more time of the gifts and toys from the 24th of December to the 7th of January since the Magi are on January 6; although finally it serves to make a gift twice, since Santa Claus does not manage to displace the Magi as tradition they are more rooted in the tradition of the Kings and doing horseback riding in all the Spanish localities.
    Last edited by Carlos; 26-12-18 at 16:13.

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    Quote Originally Posted by A. Papadimitriou View Post
    Well, at least if I ever have children I can tell them not to expect any gifts from an obese old man dressed in red.

    -Do not take gifts from strangers!

    I will tell them that some of our pagan ancestors probably had a tradition of gift-giving on the first day of the year. We can do that.

    Here, today, we practically call 'St. Basil' the figure of Father Christmas/Santa Claus popularized by Coca Cola and Hollywood.

    If we need a gift-bringer I prefer the goat.
    I showed my colleagues the Finnish goat. They looked at the pictures with their jaws dropped.

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    2 out of 2 members found this post helpful.
    Merry Christmas to all the members and the staff of Eupedia.
    17 Dec.
    Paget to the Council.

    Now the Council's letters seem to imply (words quoted) that the King will keep no strangers save the Albanoys.

    Cales, 17 Dec. 1545. Signed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LABERIA;561967
    Merry Christmas to all the members and the staff of Eupedia.

    Buon Natale, means Merry Christmas to You
    Nat King Cole



    ......
    Buon Natale, to everyone
    Happy New Year and lots of fun
    Buon Natale may all your wishes come true
    Buon Natale in Italy means
    A Merry Christmas to you

    Far away across the sea
    In sunny Italy
    There's a quaint little town
    Not a clock has been wound
    For over a century

    They don't know the time or year
    And no one seems to care
    And this is the reason
    The Christmas season
    Is celebrated all year

    Buon Natale, means Merry Christmas to you
    Buon Natale, to everyone
    Happy New Year and lots of fun
    Buon Natale may all your wishes come true
    Buon Natale in Italy means
    A Merry Christmas to you


    Quote Originally Posted by Carlos View Post
    Merry Christmas dear friends from Europe and from other parts of the world including Australia.....
    FUEGO - Bond


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    Merry Xmas!

    聖誕節快樂!
    Shèngdàn jié kuàilè


    Joyeux Noël!


    Schéi Chrëschtdeeg!



    Fröhliche Weihnachten!

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    Currently and for a few years there is a great hypocrisy in question to the magical King Baltasar, who is the black king. Well especially the people of the left and especially extreme left have created a problem where there was not, since traditionally the characters are interpreted by people who can be from strangers to popular people, culture, art, sports, celebrities, politicians, etc., and logically in Baltasar's character they had to paint their faces with black paint. Well, having so much immigration creates a conflict and it is decided in many localities, especially governed by the extreme left, that the character of Baltasar must be interpreted by a black man. However obviate that for the black immigrant who plays Baltasar is simply a job because he will not feel the celebration of the Magi when he is often Muslim, and yet when the role of Baltasar is played by a Spaniard with a painted face in black has all the meaning and meaning for himself and his environment, family, friends, fellow citizens etc

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mUR_c2XwwiM

    In the video we can see the soccer player Sergio Ramos play the character Baltasar in the Cabalgata de los Reyes Magos in his hometown.


    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rDXZ3R9Lda8

    In this other video we have an immigrant who has interpeted the character of Baltasar in the cavalcades, who probably is not even Christian and who has also falsified his documentation to remain in Spain. What can the cavalcade represent for this man? I would see it as a festival of caranavales, he has never received toys on January 6 in his inancia, has no tradition. By this I mean the great distortion and hypocrisy that exists in our society

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    2 out of 2 members found this post helpful.
    I thought I'd recommend the essential Christmas movies. Of course, number one is "The Christmas Carol", available in many variations. I prefer the George C. Scott version of Dickens' famous novella. Dickens could indeed be said to have created the modern English or Anglo Christmas, along with maybe Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Much as I love all things Italian, the Anglos "do" Christmas "better": from the decorations, to the caroling, to the holiday partying. I wouldn't be anywhere in the world for Christmas but here....its' magical.

    Then, Frank Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life", one of my favorite movies altogether. If you don't cry and feel like a better person afterwards, you have no heart.

    Finally, "The Bishop's Wife" with Cary Grant and Loretta Young.

    It wouldn't be Christmas if I didn't watch all three. :)

    The point, of course, is that the greatest gift is love and not material possessions at all.

    Try them out. You won't be sorry.

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    2 out of 2 members found this post helpful.
    The "christmass goat" isn't just a finnish thing, it's still a quite common part of christmass celebrations in Sweden too. Called the "jul bock". It's obvious that he's being overshadowed by the american Santa Claus the last 100 years or so. They still make a huge one in Gævle though.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yule_Goat

    289403274_d236f7e9-6996-4c0c-9fc9-f8211515bca3.jpg

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rizla View Post
    The "christmass goat" isn't just a finnish thing, it's still a quite common part of christmass celebrations in Sweden too. Called the "jul bock". It's obvious that he's being overshadowed by the american Santa Claus the last 100 years or so. They still make a huge one in Gævle though.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yule_Goat

    289403274_d236f7e9-6996-4c0c-9fc9-f8211515bca3.jpg
    Thanks for letting us know!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rizla View Post
    The "christmass goat" isn't just a finnish thing, it's still a quite common part of christmass celebrations in Sweden too. Called the "jul bock". It's obvious that he's being overshadowed by the american Santa Claus the last 100 years or so. They still make a huge one in Gævle though.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yule_Goat


    289403274_d236f7e9-6996-4c0c-9fc9-f8211515bca3.jpg
    Capra means Goat, is also the name of a traditional Romanian dance, performed around New Year.
    It's executed by a young man with a goat mask and a sheep skin on his back. The 'goat' and his companions go from house to house, dancing at each door on New Year's Eve.
    https://youtu.be/ZxCT5oOBfSc
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZxCT5oOBfSc


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    Las trangas in Bielsa. Carnival begins just after Christmas, from January 17

    The trangas are the single boys of the valley who are in charge of giving life to this character who attacks the children and the girls. They are dressed in the skin and horns of a he-goat, a skirt, a few big and big shells at the waist. Their faces are painted black with soot and oil, large potato teeth and a long stick, called tranga hence their name, which they chase after, in years after they were used to climb the balconies of the houses. They are responsible for picking up the madamas (single wenches) at the door of their house during the round. They symbolize fertility.

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