Puerto rico christmas traditions: Puerto Rico Christmas Traditions | Puerto Rico & Caribbean Travel News

Puerto Rico Christmas Traditions | Puerto Rico & Caribbean Travel News

The Puerto Rican holiday season begins in Novermber at Thanksgiving and keeps going through to the end of January.  It is often noted that the Puerto Rican view of the Christmas season is that it’s not so much a sprint as it is a marathon.   Indeed, children on the island have a winter break of about a month and the rush of business slows as family and friends gather to celebrate.  You will also find many festivals and events that operate during this time.  There are several favorite traditions though that are easy to follow…

Go to Mass –  Misa de Aguinaldo

From December 15-24, churches conduct misas de aguinaldo, masses held at dawn featuring the singing of aguinaldos, which are Puerto Rican versions of Christmas Carols.

Go Caroling in a  Parranda

A small group of people (parranderos) get the party started by surprising a friend at their house with music from Puerto Rico. Once the musicians have congregated on someone’s porch, they begin an as alto navideno, or a Christmas assault. This song awakens and greets the homeowner who must come to the door and let the musicians in. The musicians squeeze into the house and continue to perform aguinaldos.  They usually get started after 10pm so that one is awoken in surprise.  Then, as a group, they continue to the next house.  Each house visit grows bigger through the night as more neighbors join in. The parrenderos are usually plied with drinks and food, and perhaps a little homemade Coquito (Puerto Rico’s version of eggnog) and then on to the next house.  Usually, things wrap up around daybreak, with the last house usually providing something heartier like an asapao, or stew.

Celebrate Nochebuena – Puerto Rico Christmas Traditions

Christmas Eve trumps Christmas Day for most Puerto Ricans. This is when a typical Puerto Rican Christmas dinner is served, consisting of lechón (roast pork), pasteles (patties), and arroz con gandules (rice ‘n beans).

The traditional Christmas dessert is tembleque, which is a kind of custard with coconut, cornstarch, vanilla, and cinnamon. After dinner, many Puerto Ricans attend a midnight mass known as the Misa de Gallo or “Rooster’s Mass.” You might just catch a live reenactment of the nativity scene.

Obviously, gifts are a must. Families strive to give the best gift to all their relatives.

Grapes for Good Luck

Fireworks have become a traditional event for New Year’s Eve and if you have view from a mountain, you will see a steady succession of fireworks once the sun goes down.  At the stroke of midnight, local tradition demands that you eat 12 grapes for luck. You’ll also find some people sprinkling sugar outside their house for good luck or throwing a bucket of water out the window to expel all the negatives of the old year and get ready for a fresh start.

Collect Grass for the Camels

On the evening of Jan. 5, children will collect a shoebox full of grass and a large container of water for the Magi’s camels and place the items at the foot of their beds. In the night, the three kings will come into their rooms, take their supplies and leave a present under each child’s bed.  In our family celebrations, the gifts given are generally small tokens that would fit into the shoebox.

Celebrate Three Kings Day

This day celebrates the feast of the Epiphany, when the Three kings visited the newly born Christ Child in Bethlehem bearing him gifts. This tradition is repeated and reflected in present day with the belief that on this eve the Three Kings will visit every good child to deliver them gifts.

There is not much known about the original Three Kings other than that they came from the East bearing the three traditional gifts of Frankincense, Myrrh, and Gold.  On the night Christ was born, the were drawn by a “mysterious light” which became a star that hung in the western sky. The followed this sign to Bethlehem, where they arrived (a little late) to honor Christ’s birth. In fact, the “12 Days of Christmas,” which is so often believed to end on December 25, actually begins on the 25th and runs through January 6, culminating with the Feast of Epiphany, or “The Adoration of the Magi. ”   This marks the official end of the Christmas Season in Puerto Rico and there is  a large celebration in San Juan, where children can go to La Fortaleza, the governor’s mansion, to receive free gifts.

Drink Coquito or Pitorro

Christmas is not Christmas without Coquito, Puerto Rico’s version of Eggnog, but without the egg-y flavor. If you are looking for a traditional holiday drink and are not a fan of eggnog, consider coquito, a coconut based ‘eggnog’. Coquito is made with egg yolks, rum, coconut milk, coconut cream, sweet condensed milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. The drink is commonly associated with the Christmas holidays, where it is traditionally served along with other holiday food.

Pitorro is Puerto Rico’s version of Moonshine, and not something that you will easily find. If at all, the best time to find this is during the holiday season by hanging out with some locals. Pitorro is moonshine, or in this case fermented sugar cane or Caña, that has had fruits and spices added to it and then has been cured for months in a dark storage area.   Christmastime is the traditional time for Pitorro bottles to be taken out and dusted off and compared to everyone elses.  In the last year or so, there have been a couple of distillers that have brought Pitorro to the public commercially.  They artisan and offer many unique flavors and are available in-store at Caribbean Trading Company.


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Captain Tim

Captain Tim is the founder of Caribbean Trading Company in Puerto Rico. Many years ago Captain Tim was a normal everyday guy who decided to do what so many people only dream about. He moved to the Caribbean. Traveling throughout the islands, he has the joy of sharing this lifestyle and its flavors with the world.

Christmas in Puerto Rico — WhyChristmas.com

Songs and singing are very popular at Christmas time in Puerto Rico. People like to go carol singing, known as Parrandas (also sometimes called Asalto or Trulla). Friends gather late in the evening (about 10pm) and visit different houses. People are meant to be surprised and woken up by the music and singing of the ‘parranderos’ (those taking part in the ‘parranda’), although most people have ‘arranged’ that they will be visited; because the custom is that when you’ve been ‘woken up’ you have to join in the parranda so it grows during the evening as more party go-ers join in! The fun can last all night, finishing at dawn!

Another popular type of music at Christmas in Puerto Rico are ‘Aguinaldos’ (Christmas songs). Some are religious and called ‘villancicos’. Some have a creole/criollo rhythm called ‘décimas navideñas’. Popular and traditional Christmas songs are also sung and played.

Puerto Rican homes are decorated with greenery, often with branches from palm trees as well as Christmas decorations similar to those in the USA like Christmas Trees (normally artificial). Nativity Scenes ‘nacimientos’ or ‘pesebres’ are also popular. The figures of the Three Kings are very important. People also like to wear a traditional straw hat called a ‘pava’ at Christmas celebrations.

Christmas Eve is known as ‘Nochebuena’. The main celebrations and Christmas meal happen on Nochebuena. Christmas Day (‘Navidad’) is the day that you recover from the Nochebuena!

‘Misa de Aguinaldos’ are special Catholic Masses which are held from the 15th to the 24th December. The services are nearly all sung and use traditional Puerto Rican musical instruments such as the cuatro (a Puerto Rican guitar), guitars, güiros (a percussion instrument you rub a stick up and down), and maracas. The masses are held at dawn (about 6am).

On Christmas Eve there’s a special Misa de Aguinaldo at midnight called the Misa de Gallo (mass of the rooster). It is a very important and festive mass which includes carols, a nativity play with children dressed people from the Christmas Story and there’s lots of candles. It’s traditional for families to go to the mass to celebrate Christmas.

The main Christmas meal is normally ‘lechón asado’ (roast pork often cooked on a spit) served with ‘arroz con gandules’ (rice, pigeon peas and pork which is cooked in sofrito sauce), ‘plátano’ (plantains) and ‘pasteles’ (a dough made from mashed green bananas filled with meat and wrapped/cooked in banana leaves). Cooking the roast pig can take all day and starts early in the morning. Lots of Christmas music is played during the day to keep people entertained.

Popular Christmas desserts are ‘arroz con dulce’ (a kind of rice pudding) and ‘tembleque’ (a set custard made with coconut milk). The desserts are eaten cold. People like to drink ‘coquito’ (a drink like eggnog made with rum!). Guests often bring the desserts.

On December 28th Holy Innocents Day ‘Día de los Inocentes’ is celebrated. It’s a bit like April Fools day where people try to trick each other. But in the town of Hatillo there’s an old custom of a carnival on that day. Men dressed as King Herod’s soldiers ‘kidnap’ children and people have to give the soldiers sweets and candy to get the children back!

New Year’s Eve is called ‘Despedida de Año’ or ‘Año Viejo’. When the clock strikes midnight, it’s traditional to eat a grape on each chime for good luck! Then everyone hugs each other and people celebrate the new year letting off fireworks and firecrackers and honk their car horns! People then like to listen to a traditional poem called ‘El Brindis del Bohemio’ (A Bohemian Toast) which is played on the radio.

Epiphany is also a popular celebration in Puerto Rico. Epiphany Eve on the 5th of January is called ‘Víspera de Reyes’. Traditional Catholics go to church to pray the rosary to honor the Three Wisemen/Kings. Children also hope that they be left gifts by the Wisemen and leave fresh grass in shoeboxes under their beds for the King’s camels to eat.

Epiphany on the 6th January is called ‘Día de Reyes’ (Day of the Kings). Children wake up early to check out what the Kings have left them! On the 6th, 7th and 8th people also remember the three Wisemen/Kings: 6th = Gaspar; 7th = Melchor; 8th = Baltazar. Traditionally after Epiphany there are special services honouring Jesus and the Kings/Wisemen called ‘Octava de la Epifanía’. They last eight days (octava is eighth in Spanish), starting on the 6th January and ending on the 13th January. Not many people take part in them now and Christmas and New Year celebrations often finish after ‘Día de Reyes’.

Christmas traditions around the world

So travel lovers can discover a lot of new and interesting things during the holidays.

Forbes magazine tells about the unusual traditions of celebrating Christmas in 10 countries.


In the Bahamas and other Caribbean countries, Christmas traditions dating back to the slave-owning past are taking on bizarre forms. During the holiday called Junkanoo, which is celebrated on December 26, mass parades take place in the streets, during which people in costumes made of cardboard and colored paper sing and dance. The largest parade is held in the capital of Nassau — where the streets are filled with groups of festively dressed people from early morning. nine0005


Christmas Eve in Denmark — Julaften — the main holiday of the country. The Christmas feast begins at midnight and can continue until the morning. Mandatory attributes of the festive table in Denmark are rice pudding, roast goose, red cabbage and pickled tongue. One almond nut is usually put in the pudding, and whoever gets it, according to legend, will have good luck for the next year. The Danes also leave a piece of pudding for a mischievous elf named Nisse, so that he does not take offense and send misfortune to the owners of the house. nine0005


Finns keep up with the Danes in terms of the duration of festive feasts, which begin with ice-cold vodka and cold fish appetizers. In the past, it was believed that large libations at Christmas should contribute to a good harvest, even non-drinking family members, i. e. children and pets, took part in this ceremony. The most famous Finnish Christmas traditions take place in the Arctic Circle — in Lapland, where there are more reindeer than people. In the homeland of Santa Claus (according to the Laplanders), the Sami dress up in festive clothes and teach tourists the art of throwing a lasso, ride them on a sleigh with reindeer and arrange a «winter safari». nine0005

Goa, India

The coming of the Magi is celebrated every January in the former Portuguese colony of Goa. The culmination of the holiday is the Day of the Three Kings (January 6), in which Christians and Hindus participate with equal enthusiasm. Three boys, lucky enough to be kings this year, arrive in colorful costumes on white horses to the local church. It is a great honor to play the role of kings, and usually they are the offspring of aristocratic families.


Greenland can provide the most exciting Christmas experience, everything here is on top — both the landscape (most of the country is covered with ice crust) and gastronomic exoticism. In addition, according to the Greenland Tourist Board, Santa Claus has a summer residence here — not far from the city of Uummannaq. In Greenland at Christmas, residents decorate their windows with red-orange stars and give each other stylish gifts, such as tusks or sealskin mittens. After the traditional coffee and cake on Christmas Eve, everyone gets the special delicacy Mattac. This traditional Christmas delicacy, which is a piece of whale skin with a strip of fat, is rumored to taste like a coconut, only harder to chew. nine0005


In warm countries like Hawaii, Christmas traditions change according to the climate. Santa Claus does not use a sleigh as a means of transportation, but a bright red canoe, accompanied by «elves» in Hawaiian shirts. For a month, Honololu has a festival of festive lights, part of which is a huge Christmas tree decorated with bright garlands.


In Poland, on Christmas Eve, which in Polish is called Wigilia — from the Latin verb «wait», the festive meal, according to tradition, cannot begin before the first star, symbolizing the Star of Bethlehem. During dinner, those present exchange wafers — thin flour plates that look like waffles, passing which people should say good wishes to each other. nine0005

Puerto Rico

Puerto Ricans start celebrating Christmas in mid-December and continue until January 17th. During this period, Puerto Rican «carols» called Asalto take place. Friends visit each other unannounced and begin to sing and play musical instruments at the door of the house. The hosts treat guests to a festive dinner, a special chicken stew with rice is an obligatory dish. After a bit of a bite and a drink, the procession, now together with the owners, goes further — to the house of the next friends. This process can continue until dawn. nine0005


In Sweden, on December 13, I celebrate St. Lucia’s day. According to legend, Saint Lucia wore a wreath of candles on her head to light her way when she carried food to Christians hiding from persecution. In her honor, on the morning of December 13, the eldest daughter in every Swedish home treats her family to saffron buns.


Christmas rituals in South Wales intersect Christmas with Halloween. According to tradition, «Mary Lwyd» («Bay Horse») is selected from the villagers — this person is dressed in a white robe and given a horse’s skull on a long pole. Accompanied by local bards, he goes from house to house, clattering his horse’s teeth at the windows and frightening the inhabitants. At the door of the houses, they sing a song or a rhyme, and the inhabitants answer him in rhyme. The owners of houses where a cheerful company enters should offer refreshments.


Website of the Gorlovka and Slavic diocese

Alilo in Georgia

Where do edible Christmas trees grow? How do they carol in Africa? In what country is decorating a Christmas tree not a child’s activity, but where Christmas toys are simply nailed to the ceiling? A gospel story in cupcakes, a Christmas oak tree, and a four-month-long holiday. Here we will talk about the most amazing traditions of Christmas.


On Christmas Day, the streets of cities are filled with people. Everyone strives to take part in the Alilo procession. Many sew special festive costumes for this, reminiscent of surplices. People carry in their hands the symbol of Christmas — a star on a pole — and sing Christmas carols. Those who do not participate come out of their homes and bring holiday treats to the marchers.


The creators of the theater — the Greeks — do not do without acting out performances at Christmas. Theatrical performances take place on the street. Children whose parents have sewn appropriate costumes tell in chants and carols about the essence of the holiday. They go from house to house, congratulating all neighbors and acquaintances. In gratitude, the owners give them sweets. Reminds me of our tradition of caroling. nine0005


There are only 2% Christians in this country. After the festive service on Christmas Eve, they light colored lanterns and decorate their homes with garlands. On Christmas Day itself, Christians give gifts to each other. The rest of the Japanese do not yet understand the essence of the holiday, but subconsciously feel that it is associated with love. To meet your half and start a family for Christmas is considered a good sign by all, without exception, the inhabitants of the Land of the Rising Sun.


There are not many Christians here either, but they start celebrating Christmas here in advance — as early as January 5th. The table is decorated with lean, but, nevertheless, festive dishes from fresh fish and unleavened cakes. And on the very day of the holiday, cupcakes are prepared, decorated with images of various gospel episodes — the journey of the Magi after the star, the angelic message to the shepherds, the Born God-child in the manger… Any green plant is suitable as a Christmas tree — it’s still a symbol of life. The celebration begins with a divine service in the temple. Each person who enters is given a candle in his hands, with which he must go around the church three times. Orthodox Africans are very fond of carols — Christmas songs. They begin to sing them on Christmas Eve, moving from house to house. Carolers are given not only treats and money, but also various souvenirs. However, everything that they get for singing, the Kenyans reverently take to the temple, where the priests distribute «Christmas gifts» to the poorest. nine0005

Puerto Rico

Here, like here, Christmas lasts almost two weeks — from December 25 to January 6. The last day of Christmas time is called the Day of the Three Kings (Magi who brought gifts to the Born in Bethlehem). These days in Puerto Rico are usually celebrated with the whole family at the festive table.


But the Filipinos still hold the record for the longest Christmas. Preparation for it lasts almost four months and begins in September. And it’s supposed to be in the church for Christmas services not only on Christmas Eve and the day of the holiday itself, but also nine days after that. Houses here are decorated with lighted lanterns in the form of the star of Bethlehem. nine0005


It must be nice to have Christmas in the middle of summer. Church bells announce the birth of the Divine Infant. Hearing them, every Australian tries to support them with the horn of his car. But because of the heat, the celebration begins only in the evening, when it subsides.


Mexicans have decided to abandon the tree as a symbol of Christmas. Moreover, Christmas trees do not grow in Mexico. Instead of a tree, Christmas toys decorate … the ceiling. The main papier-mâché toy, the piñata, is filled with sweets. Then the children try to get them by knocking off the decoration. nine0005


Argentines celebrate Christmas with volleys of guns at balloons, explosions of firecrackers and fireworks. Since the evening of December 24th and all the way through the 25th, no one has been working. Christmas in Argentina is a very family holiday. And the main dish of the Christmas table is very reminiscent of our Olivier.


But the inhabitants of the country, where, as you know, many wild monkeys live and in January the air warms up to forty degrees, they really want snow for Christmas. The Brazilians decided that cotton wool is very similar to snow and can replace it. In addition, it does not melt under the scorching rays of the sun. Christmas trees here are not decorated with toys, but simply sprinkled with «snow». «How beautiful!» — everyone around is excited. nine0005

Pohatukawa Christmas tree

The rooster is the symbol of Christmas in this country. The Brazilians believe that he not only reminded the Apostle Peter of the committed betrayal, but was also the first to announce to the world the birth of the Savior. Christmas morning in Brazil begins with mass, at the end of which the priests carry out the rooster. His cry, instead of the sound of bells, notifies the city of the coming of Christmas. After that, festivities, carnivals and dances begin. The floating Christmas tree is very popular. Every year she is allowed to travel in the lagoon of Rio de Janeiro. nine0005


Residents of a neighboring country do not bother with the lack of snow. And they go to the festive service on roller skates. Here it is a tradition.

New Zealand

New Zealand has the same opinion about snow. Here, snowmen are made from sand and instead of a Christmas tree, an evergreen pohatukawa tree is installed, which blooms with red flowers at this time of the year.


In Alaska, where there is plenty of snow and ice at any time of the year, Christmas is celebrated for more than a month. Every year from November 28 to January 5, the Christmas In Ice festival takes place here. Masters compete in making ice sculptures. Right before our eyes, ice palaces and labyrinths are growing to the delight of children and adults. Everyone can take part in the fairy tale and create their own sculpture. nine0005

On the very day of Christmas, the people of Alaska go out to… carol. To take part in singing carols and receiving sweets for it, you must definitely sew a festive costume from foil and make a star out of it.

Rest of the USA

Decorating your home for Christmas is an art the people of the United States of America are famous for. Especially New York. And in vain they say that Christmas is not celebrated here. By December 25, the date of Protestant and Catholic Christmas, entire neighborhoods of Brooklyn are reminiscent of a fairy tale come to life thanks to sparkling garlands and magically decorated fir trees. After all, it is customary to decorate houses here not only inside, but also outside, reminding everyone around about Christmas. nine0005

In general, Americans spend fabulous amounts of money on decorating houses. A wreath of spruce branches is necessarily hung on the door. Many people set up statues of the Virgin Mary, Joseph and the Baby lying in a manger in front of the house. In addition to Christmas tree branches, it is customary here to decorate the house and the Christmas table … with hay — in memory of the same manger.


For Europeans, Christmas is still a much more significant holiday than the New Year. They prepare for it in advance and very carefully. Unlike our country, gifts are given here on this particular holiday. Every European country has its own beautiful Christmas traditions. nine0005

In Bulgaria, an Orthodox country, Christmas Eve is called «poor evening». The hostesses set the table with lean but delicious dishes and invite everyone they meet to taste them. No poor person will go hungry on Christmas Eve.

The poor are not only treated here, but they also try to please them on the eve of the holiday. Various surprises are baked for them in a special cake — notes with wishes, nuts, coins. Carolers in Bulgaria are also involved in helping those in need: part of the funds they collect must be donated to the church or to specific poor people they know. nine0005


Are you still complaining that there are a lot of people in the church on Christmas? In Italy, to get to the Christmas service in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, you need to book a ticket several months in advance. If you didn’t worry about getting to the church in advance for Christmas, you will have to watch the service on TV — a large screen broadcasting live is installed in front of the church.

Before the holiday, Italians certainly try to do a general cleaning. This musical people certainly accompanies her with songs. At Christmas, the streets and houses are dressed up in bright colors. Italians consider red to be the most beautiful, so it prevails in their outfits during Christmas time. They even pick up red socks for the wardrobe. nine0005


In Belgium, socks have long become an independent attribute of the holiday — gifts are placed in them. Before the Christmas meal, every Belgian must eat the sweet bread cougnolle, which is made in the shape of a Baby lying in a manger.

Spruce decorated with sausage buns. A shot from the Austrian TV series «Commissioner Rex»


Practical people live in this country, and the Christmas tree is also decorated with benefit: not with any unnecessary balls and rain, but with figures made of chocolate and marzipans — pastries with almond filling (now you know, what is marzipan). nine0005

When leaving for the Christmas service, the doors of their houses with a delicious Christmas tree inside are left unlocked by the Austrians. Anyone can visit their neighbors and refresh themselves with sweets.

To prevent guests from nibbling on dry chocolate, the hosts even leave a kettle of hot cocoa on the stove. What to do if the robbers want to take advantage of this is unclear. But judging by the well-known television series «Commissioner Rex», everything is in order with the police there.


The only country where adults won the fight against children for the right to decorate the Christmas tree. At this time, children are simply kicked out of the house and enjoy sorting out colorful balls, cones and angels. As compensation, children, when they are allowed to return home, find not only a decorated fir tree, but also gifts under it.

Serbia and Montenegro

But in Orthodox Serbia and Montenegro, on Christmas Eve, they bring home not a Christmas tree, but … an oak. Men go to the forest in search of the Christmas oak — the father of the family and sons. Fortunately, according to the requirements of this tradition, the oak must be young. Otherwise, they would not have been able to drag the tree until the next Christmas. Oak is brought into the house, and after the holiday it is turned into logs, which are thrown into the family hearth. Such is the tradition that holds the bonds of the family together. nine0005

The Serbs explain this custom by the fact that on a cold Christmas night, the shepherds and sorcerers who came to bow to Christ lit a fire in the cave to warm the frozen Baby. Well, those who live in cities and cannot find an oak buy wreaths of oak leaves that decorate the house.


On the eve of Christmas, it is customary to say a special Christmas prayer here. It calls not to offend either people or animals, to forgive and take care of others. Wreaths of Christmas trees are usually worn on the head as a decoration. In this country, too, before the onset of the holiday, they clean up and … go to the bathhouse — just like in the movie known to everyone. nine0005

Great Britain

In Great Britain, they follow a completely opposite tradition and before the holiday they try to plunge into the hole — an echo of the fact that once Christmas and the Epiphany of the Lord were celebrated together as one holiday, called Theophany, that is, the coming into the world of Christ. In Hyde Park in London, every Christmas you can see Santa Clauses swimming in the lake.

For the festive table, the British rush to the house of their parents, no matter how old they (and their parents too) may be. nine0005

On the second day of Christmas — St. Stephen’s Day — the British are in a hurry to distribute alms and donate to charity the funds that they have been saving all year specifically for this purpose. Well, we have a lot to learn from them.


Only in this country, instead of twelve dishes of the Christmas table, twelve holiday gifts are prepared. No other child in the world has been so lucky. However, you will not envy your parents — here and while you come up with one gift, you will break your head. nine0005

On Christmas Eve, television here stops working as a sign of respect for the holiday, and a festive service is broadcast on the radio.


Here everyone prepares for Christmas together. Women get together and make souvenirs for the holiday fair, as well as special costumes — gray shirts, red skirts and trousers, and long caps — in which members of their family will then go to church for the Christmas service. They try to do good on a holiday even for birds — treats are left on the street for them: sheaves of oat ears. nine0005


The Swedish symbol of Christmas is a special biscuit in the form of animals — goats, sheep and horses, which were the first to meet the Christ Child in the Bethlehem cave, warming Him with their breath.


The French traditionally approach home decoration for Christmas simply and gracefully. Why all these trees? A bouquet of flowers on the table is a truly French solution.


In the capital city of Budapest, on Christmas days, a grandiose fair of folk crafts, Christmas souvenirs and homemade treats is held, which attracts crowds of tourists. nine0005

Czech Republic

Here the main course to the Christmas table is delivered… alive. This is a carp, and before it is baked, the fish is sent to swim in the bath to the delight of children and adults.


Germans, known for their punctuality, would never miss the moment of Christmas. Moreover, for this they invented a “Christmas clock” long ago. A month before the holiday, a wreath of spruce branches is placed on the window, in the center of which four candles are placed. The first of them is lit immediately, the second after a week, and so on. So they won’t miss Christmas even if something happens to the watch. nine0005

Another long-standing German tradition is the Christmas night Mass. If in our country the night liturgy is served only in some churches, then they are everywhere. Many Germans try to get to worship not only on Christmas Day and on Christmas Eve. About a month before Christmas, they try to go to church more often, be sure to confess and take communion.

Pious Germans treat each other with special gingerbread and figurines of the Christ Child and the Virgin Mary leaning over Him. The same figurines of the Christmas «nativity scene» are installed in homes and even institutions. nine0005

But instead of a Christmas tree, the green symbol of Christmas in Germany is Euphorbia. Its leaves look like a Christmas star.


In the city of the Nativity — Bethlehem — the solemn service in the Church of the Nativity is led by the patriarch. Before the start of the service, a festive procession, led by an Orthodox patriarch, goes to Bethlehem from Jerusalem, which is only eight kilometers away.

The procession, like the Old Testament festive processions to the temple of Solomon, is accompanied by the beat of drums and the sounds of wind instruments. Children certainly try to participate in the procession, for whom their parents prepare beautiful clothes for this. Starting in the Old City, the procession ends in front of the narrow entrance to the Bethlehem Church of the Nativity. nine0005

Once upon a time, the entrance was crowned with large luxurious gates, but due to the fact that many non-believers entered the temple on horseback and thus desecrated it, the gates were laid with stone in the 17th century, leaving a low passage through which one cannot enter without bowing.

Not only on Christmas, but also on other days of the year, the chandelier in the main Church of the Nativity is decorated with glass Christmas tree balls, and the cave under it is decorated with a Christmas star.

Field of Shepherds

Thousands of people gather at the site of the Nativity for the Christmas Liturgy. More than thirty hotels in a small town are overcrowded — as then, during the Jewish census, when Christmas happened. Holidays are usually sunny. However, winter is still felt here — the temperature ranges from zero to plus 13 degrees. nine0005

In addition to the temple built over the cave where Christmas was celebrated, there are other shrines in Bethlehem — the field where the angels appeared to the shepherds, the cave where the Mother of God and the Child hid on the way to Egypt, and the grotto in which the remains of the babies killed by Herod rest .

After the Christmas liturgy, the pilgrims are in no hurry to break their fast — they go around the shrines, trying to mentally transport themselves to the night when Christmas happened and turn to God with the most cherished prayer.

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