Latvia: Children sometimes earn their presents by reciting a poem or song. Claims to be the home of the first Christmas tree, first used in 1510. Merry Christmas = Priecigus Ziemassvotkus. The special Latvian Christmas Day meal is cooked brown/grey peas with bacon (pork) sauce, small pies, cabbage & sausage, bacon rolls and gingerbread.
Madagascar: Even though it is warm, Madagascar is still decorated with holly, robins, and snow. Merry Christmas =Mirary Krismasy sambatra sy Taona vaovao tonga lafatra ho anao. Santa Claus is called 'Dadabe Noely'. The meal is normally Chicken or Pork with rice followed by a special cake. Poinsettias also grow as large outdoor shrubs in Madagascar and don't just flower at Christmas! They are also the national emblem of Madagascar.
|A Nisse is another name for Elf|
Norway: a sheaf of wheat is often left out for the birds to eat over Christmas. Also a type of rice porridge is sometimes left for the 'Nisse' who is believed to guard the farm animals. Another tradition in parts of Norway is that families light a candle every night from Christmas Eve to New Year's Day. The tree is given as a present to say 'thank you' for the help that the people of the UK gave to Norway during World War II. The tree stands in Trafalgar Square in the middle of London and often hundreds of people come to watch when the lights are turned on. Happy/Merry Christmas is 'God Jul' or 'Glædelig Jul'. Here's a recipe for Norwegian Hole Cake
Phillipines: Christmas carols start in September. Misa de Gallo are the early masses held the nine days before Christmas. The parol is a bamboo pole with a lighted star lantern on it that represents the start that guided the Wise Men. Noche Buena includes: lechon (roasted pig), ham, fruit salad, rice cakes (bibingka and puto bumbong are traditional Christmas foods) and other sweets, steamed rice, and many different types of drinks. Happy/Merry Christmas is 'Maligayang Pasko'
Russia: The Russian Orthodox church uses the Julian Calendar, so Christmas falls on January 7th. Advent for them starts November 28th and goes to January 6th--talk about the 40 days of Christmas! Christmas greeting is 'S Rozhdestvom!'. Sauerkraut is main dish in the Christmas Eve meal. It can be served with cranberries, cumin, shredded carrot and onion rings. Babushka means Grand Mother in Russian. It tells the story of an old women who met the Wise men on their way to see Jesus created by an American poet and writer called Edith Matilda Thomas in 1907.