Hello everyone, happy December. Can you believe it's now only just over two weeks until Christmas?!?! As for me, I'm enjoying the chocolatey countdown this year with my first ever advent calendar from the mother-in-law. Advent isn't a big deal in Nigeria or England, but it is HUGE in Germany, and I get to celebrate it like the Germans now, thanks to the boy's family. This for me, is one of the best things about having a multicultural lifestyle. Honestly, living as an expat, being from two countries and dating a guy from yet another country/culture has greatly enriched my life. Anyway all that sugar has inspired me to write a short post about three of the important Christmasy feast days celebrated in Europe, which are not really big in either of my two home countries.
First there's Saint Nicholas which is celebrated in Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and a few other countries. According to Wikipedia,
"Saint Nicholas' Day, observed on December 6 (in Western Christian countries) and 19 December (in Eastern Christian countries), is the feast day of Saint Nicholas. It is celebrated as a Christian festival with particular regard to his reputation as a bringer of gifts. In Germany and Poland, boys would dress as bishops begging alms for the poor, while in Ukraine, children wait for St. Nicholas to come and to put a present under their pillows provided that the children were good during the year. Children who behaved badly may expect to find a twig or a piece of coal under their pillows.
The American Santa Claus, as well as the British Father Christmas, derive from Saint Nicholas. "Santa Claus" is itself derived in part from the Dutch Sinterklaas, the saint's name in that language. However the gift giving associated with these descendant figures is associated with Christmas Day rather than Saint Nicholas Day itself."
Then there's advent which as the name implies, celebrates the advent and anticipation of Jesus' birth. A sort of countdown to Christmas, it begins on the 4th Sunday before, and continues all the way to the 24th of December. It is usually celebrated with the lighting of advent Candles each Sunday, as well as a special Calendar with windows, which are opened each day and which contain little presents or sweets.
My first ever advent calendar!
And finally, Epiphany feted on the 6th of January, which marks the visit of the three wise men to the baby Jesus. Again Wiki to the rescue for a more detailed explanation.
"In the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and neighbouring Germany, children in groups of three (symbolising the three kings) proceed in costume from house to house while singing songs typical for the occasion, and receiving a coin or some sweets at each door.
In Belgium people eat the galette des Rois, a round, flat, and golden cake made with flake pastry and often filled with frangipane, fruit, or chocolate. The cake usually containing a charm (a porcelain or plastic figurine, called a fève (bean in French)) is cut by the youngest (and therefore most innocent) person at the table to assure that the recipient of the bean is random. The person who gets the piece of cake with the trinket becomes "king" or "queen" and wears a paper crown provided with the cake. This person has a choice between offering a beverage to everyone around the table (usually a sparkling wine or champagne), or volunteering to host the next king cake at their home. This can extend the festivities through all of January!"
As you can see the children in these countries have it made, they can rake in the goodies from all these fetes, as well as from good old Santa Claus. The parents on the other hand, not so much! Now imagine being a half British-Nigerian, half German child growing up in Belgium with long-distance but involved and loving grandparents, with all those feast days. That particular child has hit the presents-jackpot niyen!
This post brings me to the end of the 15-for-15 Challenge and thankfully it's a far cheerier one than my last update. It's also a fitting topic with which to close the year. I am so happy I decided to participate in the process, because it kept me blogging and kept my blog alive. I am also proud of myself for making it all the way to the end, especially because I had periods where I was particularly stressed in my normal life and struggled to keep up. So I'd like to thank Janyl for the idea, Duru, Oyinda and all my other readers who encouraged and cajoled me to keep going, and everyone who supported by reading and/or leaving comments. Sometimes I was too busy/stressed to respond, but I loved having that interaction with my readers.
There will likely be at least one more post before the end of the year, but just in case life happens and I don't get round to posting again, I'd like to wish everyone a wonderful holiday season. Have a merry Christmas, and a happy new year. May all your wishes come true in 2016!