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Holiday Traditions Around the World – Europe

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Remember “Elf” skating beneath the giant Christmas tree in New York’s Rockefeller Center or the Chinese restaurant carolers in “A Christmas Story”?  Hollywood has penetrated nearly every corner of the globe and by now we’ve all seen an American holiday movie of some sort giving us insight into this country’s holiday traditions.

Yet many of the American traditions don’t go nearly as far back as some of Europe’s holiday traditions.  Ever wondered what they do on the other side of the Atlantic?  Here are some of our Flutter FETTI® favorites:

Germany – Christmas Markets

You can find them in London, Prague, and even New York, but only Germany offers the authentic Christmas market experience.  Throughout the weeks leading up to the big day, cities and towns all over Germany, including Nuremburg, Cologne, and Dresden, set up clusters of stalls selling wood carvings, intricate marionettes, colorful children’s toys, and other wonderful hand-made crafts.  Grab a hot cup of mulled wine and a bag of roasted chestnuts and stroll through the snow-covered streets admiring the romantic setting of the German Christmas markets.

Southern Italy – Feast of the Seven Fishes

In some cultures, Christmas Eve dinner is associated with roasted whole turkey or goose; for Italians residing anywhere from Rome to Sicily, Christmas Eve dinner is a scrumptious seafood feast.  Expect a meal consisting of dishes like linguine with clam sauce, stuffed-baked lobsters, eel simmered with tomatoes and capers, deep-fried cod, and of course a non-stop flow of homemade wine.  The tradition is heavily linked to the Bible and one that generations of Italians (and their visitors) look forward to every year.

Scotland – Hogmanay

Before Christmas became popular in Scotland, the favored holiday here was Hogmanay.  Today it’s intertwined with New Years Eve partying, but there is much more to this traditional celebration.  It starts off with “first-footing” where tall men offer shortbread and whiskey to neighbors and friends.  Then come the fire rituals, like fireball swinging in Aberdeenshire, the torchlight procession in Dundee, and the popular fireworks display in Edinburgh that’s suitable for everyone else.  Join in the Edinburgh fireworks fun with your own 14" FireCracklers Confetti "Snappers" and get ready to party all night long!

Ireland – Candles in the Windows

Walk through the streets of Ireland’s small towns and you’re bound to see candles flickering in the windows on Christmas Eve.  The candles symbolize many different things, but the most important reason harks back to the days under Penal Law when practicing Catholicism was banned.  The candle secretly informed wandering priests that this home was willing to exchange hospitality for Christmas mass.  Today, Catholics still light the candles and this holiday tradition brings special warmth to cold December nights in Ireland.

Norway – Porridge for the Nisser

In North America, Santa brings the presents down the chimney and the Grinch tries to steal them from under the tree.  In Norway, they also have two famous Christmas figures, although they look like elves and do things a little bit differently.  “Julenisse” delivers the presents, although not via the chimney, and Fjøsnisse plays tricks on the barn animals unless you leave out a big bowl of porridge.  The tradition of leaving out porridge (and occasionally a jug of beer) still lives strong today because Norwegian children know not to mess with the tricky little nisser!

About Flutter FETTI®: Flutter FETTI is an innovator, manufacturer, and worldwide distributor of confetti and streamer products.  Our mission is to bring excitement and joy into every special event in your life.  Contact one of our confettiologists and we'll make the right product recommendation to add the "WOW!" effect to your European holiday tradition.



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