The second Sunday before Christmas is celebrated as Mother’s Day in Yugoslavia, when mothers give children gifts. Fathers day is celebrated the next week.
International Children’s Day – Second Sunday in December
Boars Head Ceremony
Boar hunts were popular sport in the middle ages, and this ceremony is still held at Queens College, Oxford on the Saturday before Christmas.
Boars heads is traditional fare during the Yuletide period in Scandinavia.
The four weeks which lead up to Christmas, but which never end.
02 My Birthday
05 Sinterklass Eve
The Dutch exchange gifts, usually disguised or hidden inside a vegetable or cake.
The coming of Christmas is announced by farmers blowing long horns over water wells each day until Christmas.
06 St Nicholas’s Day
Feast of St Nicholas
Remembered by giving gingerbread or toys to children. This is the first of the gift giving days on the Christmas calendar, celebrated in Holland and Belgium with St Nicholas giving gifts to the good children, and punishing the naughty. Saint Nicholas arrives dressed as a Bishop and riding a white horse, with Black Peter in Spanish clothes.
Boy Bishops are elcted on this day to conduct services.
St Nicholas is the patron saint of merchants, sailors, brewers, Scholars, un-married girls, boys, fishermen, children, Aberdeen and Russia, and the church gave him Christmas as well. The name has been anglicised to Santa Claus, simplified to ST Nick, while in Bavaria he is messenger to the Dear Christ Child or Liebes Christkind, which later became Kris Kringle.
12 Fiesta of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Celebrated in Mexico with religious ceremonies, pilgrimages, dances, processions and fireworks. Commemorate the appearance of the Virgin Mary to an Indian boy in 1531.
13 St Lucia’s Day
Celebrated in Sweden and Finland with candles and processions. St Lucia was a Fourth-century girl martyr from Sicily.
16 Posada Day
‘Posada’ means ‘inn.’ In Mexico and South American countries processions set out to re-enact Mary and Joseph’s search for shelter in Bethlehem.
17 Saturnalia, Roman Festival to see the old year out.
Novena is the Italian Christmas season and runs until Christmas Day.
21 St Thomas’s Day
Patron saint of old people, and this is the day for giving senior citizens small gifts of money to help buy their Christmas food. Just in case anyone was forgotten, old people were allowed to ask for their money, which became known as Thomasing, going a-gooding or mumping.
Wassailing is a centuries old toast, ‘Wassail’ (be whole) reply is ‘Drinkail’ (your health), accompanied by a bowl of spiced ale, eggs, apples and sugar. The bowl was decorated with ribbons and a gilded apple, carried from house to house to share and be topped up!
Winter or Summer Solstice, depending on which hemisphere you live in
22 John Canoe Day, Jamaica
Eight day Jewish festival to rededicate the temple. Also known as the Festival of Lights.
24 Christmas Eve
T’was the night before Christmas ………
The Old Lads Passing Bell
On the three mornings before Christmas the bells were pealed to remind people of the coming of Christmas Day. The bell, which tolled between 11 and Midnight tolled for the death of the devil and the approaching birth of Christ. The custom was forbidden after the reformation, although peels are still rung to call the faithful to Christmas Mass.
Gift bringers visit during the evening, including Father Christmas, Santa Claus, Sinterklaus, Bethany, Saint Nicholas, ………
25 Christmas Day
Midnight Mass is special, a happy joyous affair, complete with decorations and cheerful greetings amongst parishioners.
26 Boxing Day
Alms boxes are opened and the contents distributed to the poor on Boxing Day.
Feast of St Stephen
In Kentish tradition a hobby horse is ridden around the town to collect money.
In Scotland the days between Christmas and Hogmanay (New Year) are Daft Days, and Daft Days Yule Bread was made.
Post Christmas Sales
This could be a great time to stock up on bits and pieces to make decorations next year.
28 Childermass or Holy Innocents Day
No work, no fingernails or toenails cut, or new clothes put on! Anything started on this day will never be finished, or will come to an untimely end.
Proclamation Day, South Australia
31 New Years Eve
Scots celebrate new year rather than Christmas. Children wrapped themselves into a sheet Chinese dragon style, and recited a rhyme asking for Hogmanay. Everyone crowded into meeting places with bonfires and torches to burn out the old year. Return all you have borrowed, mend the clothes, pay all the bills, polish the silver, change the sheets, sweep the house clean for the new year. Drunks were laced with whisky, and stray dogs were shown the door because they brought bad luck.