Monday, December 17, 2012

Gearing up for Christmas

Our Christmas decorating (along with the size of our tree) were downsized quite a bit this year. In Montenegro, Christmas is celebrated on January 7th, and New Year is January 14th because they follow the Orthodox calendar for holidays. They also celebrate January 1st, so there are two new year celebrations. The two malls are decorated for the holidays, but most shops aren't, nor do people deck their halls to the extent done in America.
From our time before, we noticed that people put a dead oak branch (with leaves intact) outside their homes-and sometimes on the grill of their cars-before Christmas, and then took these branches to a designated spot by an old Orthodox chapel, on Christmas Eve, where they are burned. The tradition, as we understand it, is that the evil spirits trying to enter a home (or car) will get caught in the leaves and then be burned up. We actually visited the area where the bonfire was taking place, and saw that it was like a big party, there was music playing and food and drink were being sold.
What Christmas traditions do you and your family celebrate that might look strange to someone from another culture? Did you "invent" any family customs for yourselves?
Steve and I (Laura) started a custom back when we were dating which still continues, we exchange our gifts on Santa Claus Day (December 6th), since he is associated with gift giving, and then Christmas Day can be devoted to Jesus birth.
Interestingly, in most former communist countries, Santa is associated with New Year rather than Christmas-I guess since they didn't celebrate religious holidays, but wanted a winter figurehead.

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