Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Countdown to Christmas 2012 Midweek 12


Christmas Around the World – Y’all, Eh.

With all the traveling we have done, we have seen and experienced a cornucopia of traditions. Each post has been complete with comments from those who have found something within the post that they could relate to as part of their own celebrations. This brings us to two of the biggest melting pots of the world. Canada and the United States. Mexico is so rich in their own particular traditions that it would have been unfair to try and make our last stop North America. No, they needed to stand alone in their history and all their wonderfully uncompromised celebrations.

This brings our sleigh to a stop to the most northern country on our map. O’Canada is as filled with as many migrants and transplants as their southerly neighbor, which means that many of the celebrations surrounding Christmas are all a mixed bag of English, German, Italian, French and Scotch, but they have their own way of doing things that are still uniquely Canadian. This is going to be a long story, so get your hot chocolate and curl up.

Nova Scotia is home to the fir tree that is predominant in holiday decorations. They even deliver a fir to Boston every year. They pick the biggest and the best fir tree and truck it down to Boston as a token of their appreciation for some assistance during an event that they call the Halifax Explosion. In 1917, the SS Mont Blanc loaded with ammunition collided in the Narrows with the SS Imo. A fire started the explosion that killed 2,000 people in the area of the straits. The explosion was the equivalent of 2.9 kilotons of TNT, which sent a shockwave that flattened trees, and it destroyed everything within a half mile of the straits. It created a tsunami and the towns of Richmond and Dartmouth were extremely damaged. The USS Tacoma and USS Von Steuben were passing by and saw the smoke, altered their courses and came to assist in aid and rescue.

Merry Christmas Boston

The Bostonians light this beloved tree and start the celebration by thanking their neighbors for the gorgeous fir.


This tradition is part Christmas caroling and part begging in the wren tradition. What started as a simple way to go from house to house singing has turned into more of an event of pestering folks for handouts.

Newfoundland and Nova Scotia is home to many a small town and village, and part of the tradition that has developed involves people dressing up in costumes and knocking on everyone’s door. They are mummering. They disguise their voices and ask if Mummers are allowed in. If the homeowner cannot determine who is doing the asking, they must grab a costume and go along with the group to the next stop. This adult activity starts on the 26th of December and follows the traditional 12 days of Christmas. Some towns have decided to ban the practice since it is now a way to beg from door to door.

Should the host guess who the noisemakers are, they must immediately remove their masks and stop being obnoxious.

A group of adults go mummering through the streets.

The northern areas of Canada pay homage to Saint Catherine, their patron saint of all single women. In honor, they conduct a Taffy Pull. This spectacular event is said to help single women find a mate. Yep, men find this incredibly attractive.

Santa Claus brings the gifts on Christmas Eve and all the children put out their stockings and pillowcases in hopes that Santa will fill them with goodies. Apparently, the separation by the Atlantic Ocean has kept Black Pete and his ilk from terrorizing children on this side of the ocean. Although, he may be lurking in a few homes.

The celebrations end in Quebec on the 6th of January with a ‘La Fete du Roi’, which is another derivative of the bean in the cake game. If you get the bean, you get to be queen or king for the day. Of what, remains to be seen.

Those who live along the Atlantic Seaboard will have lobster, fish or shellfish for their main meal, and those who live more inland and cannot get fresh seafood will dine on the more common turkey or ham. Those in Quebec dine on small meatballs or pork pies. The desserts again are fruit puddings and dried fruit cakes and breads of the English persuasion.

Barley Candy and Chicken Bones

Local candy companies make a barley candy that is shaped like Santa and his reindeer. They also make the treats to look like  Christmas tree or a sleigh. The barley candy is a sugar candy created from the sugar of barley. It does not taste like barley. The Chicken Bones candies are a pink candy that tastes like cinnamon, and if you leave them to melt in your mouth, the center is a creamy chocolate.

Barley Candy and Chicken Bones

Some Eskimos celebrate Christmas with gift giving in a celebration they call Sinck Tuck. There is a lot of dancing involved in the event. It may be to keep warm.

Canadian Trivia

  • Most of the movie, The Christmas Story, was filmed in Canada. Triple Dog Dare ya to find Ralphie’s flagpole.
  • You cannot send the Prime Minister a gift for Christmas. It is not allowed.
  • Those in Alberta spend the most money on their Christmas gifts. Those in the Yukon are number two, and those in the Northwest Territories are third in spending.
  • Canadian Santa answers all his letters thanks to the help of 200,000 hours that volunteers spend helping the old man.
  • Canadians enjoy their Egg Nog.
  • 5.5 million Christmas trees are harvested every year, and half of those are exported to places like Japan, Mexico and the United States.
  • Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer was recorded using Canadian actors.
  • The Nutcracker Ballet is a Canadian Christmas tradition with over 5,500 pairs of pointe shoes worn out by ballerinas from the National Ballet of Canada since 1994.

Southern Exposure

The further we travel south, the more the traditions all start to blend together. There are so many of the same things celebrated around the world because of all the happily integrated nationalities. While there are many similar customs, there are certainly some things that are very much United Statesian. Children help decorate the Christmas tree with strung popcorn, and when the holiday is over, they place the strings outside for the birds to munch on.

The citizens of the United States like to decorate their yards, lawns, houses, streets, roofs, dogs and small children in things that light up and need to be blown up. The use of blow up decorations put Griswold to shame. Can you say excessive?

Many communities, towns and subdivisions have contests every year to see who can add the most lights to their homes. Then they are judged by the Christmas committee. Bet the meter is just spinning like a pinwheel in a hurricane.

Mummering Philly Style

The Mummers Day parade in Philadelphia is a custom that lasts well over six hours. The groups that march spend months making their costumes. They are judged on their costumes, and it is a celebration of the New Year.

Mummer’s Day parade in Philadelphia. These marchers are just one of many, many elaborate costumes.

The customary Christmas Dinner is served on the 25th of December, and in most cases, consists of ham, turkey, chicken or seafood. There are desserts that are added to the meal that are from the culture of those who are celebrating. Those in the United States take all the rest of the world’s foods and drinks and embrace them as their own.

NORAD tracks Santa for all those little ones that need to know where Santa is at all time. The original GPS system started in 1955. Make your own connections between tracking Santa and the Cold War. It is a response to Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa.  The White House puts up a large tree every year, and the tree that graces Rockefeller Center is a donated Norway spruce. The angel found her way to the top of the tree because she was the one to herald in the coming of Christ. Likewise, the star is the star that guided the wise men. Another Victorian influence that was passed across the ocean. Click on NORAD and go see where Santa is today.

The family gathers round the television to watch Charlie Brown’s Christmas, The Grinch that Stole Christmas, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer complete with Canadian voices, It’s a Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street. Post-war America is very commercialized and very glued to their televisions.

Choirs deliver the Christmas message

Christmas celebrations also consist of candle light services on Christmas Eve and caroling from home to home. Some churches put on nativity plays, and others gather their choirs together to do a Cantata, which is a usually sung as the story of the birth of Christ is being read from the book of Luke. Others round up their choirs and other musical members to sing Christmas carols to the shut-ins. This is followed by hot chocolate and cookies. Always, the cookies.

Those who live in Hawaii call Santa Claus Kanakaloka. Those who live in Florida and Southern California drape small twinkling white lights on the fronds of their palm trees. Those who live in small towns go on Christmas Strolls, which conjures images of wearing fur muffs and riding in a one horse open sleigh. Truthfully, it is an excuse to shop. Children crawl up on the laps of fat, bearded men in malls and give them their many pages of wants and desires There is nothing like the mall Santa to creep you out.

Southern style

Christmas Day is filled with football, church services, family fights and opening gifts.
Every family brings their own customs to the table during this Most Wonderful Time of the Year.


Mistletoe, wreaths of fir and holly were introduced in England. These plants were prevalent within the landscape, which meant that there was no cost involved in gathering the leaves and adding them to the home. These were a favorite of the peasants. The kissing of someone under the mistletoe goes back to Washington Irving’s depiction of the Scandinavian custom of kissing when a couple meets under the mistletoe. Mr. Irving informed the rest of the world of the custom. It is rumored that mistletoe was once a thriving tree until it was used for the cross that Christ carried, and then it was cursed to be a parasite on other trees. Mistletoe actually goes back to Greek mythology, and when Christianity spread across the region, the mistletoe got reassigned to a new job.

Kiss me you fool

The Christmas wreath is relegated to mostly English speaking countries, and it is made of evergreen because the evergreen is considered a symbol of strength. Wreaths are a common decoration found throughout history. They were confiscated by those fun-loving Puritans as a symbol of too much fun. It has been adapted for use by Christians as a symbol of honor and moral virtue as it was used in the Roman Empire. Middle Age artwork uses the wreath as decoration for the Virgin Mary and the saints.


You cannot talk about Christmas in the United States or Canada without talking about the oodles and oodles of Christmas cookies that are baked, boxed, eaten and distributed in record speed. Since each nationality brings their own cookies to the table, here are some yummy photos for you to enjoy.




I could NOT stop putting cookies into this post. Now, here are a wonderful selection of things that you cannot pass up. Every item here is perfect for someone on your Christmas list. In the words of Catherine of ShadowDogDesigns , Shop now, shop often and let’s fill all those stockings that are hung by the chimney with care with things that will give someone a squeal of delight on Christmas morn.

Blue Purple Flower Enamel Earrings, Handmade Lampwork Jewelry
Victorian Style Treasures

4 x 6 inch Butterfly original watercolor paintings

Monster Door Sign for Kids Birthday or Baby Shower Party
Adore by Nat

Karaoke Microphone Wine Glass charms
The Singing Beader

Heart Flowers Earrings, Valentines Purple Red Copper Handmade Jewelry
Shadow Dog Designs 

Oliver The Otter's Christmas Throw Blanket
Photography & Digital By Colleen Cornelius 

Inlayed Gemstone Heart Red Jasper Malachite Mother of Pearl Pendant Necklace

Christmas Wine Charms - Glasswear Jewelry 

Set of 6 15mm Handmade Polymer Clay Beads Black, Green Jewelry Supplies

While the celebration of Christmas was originally of pagan origin, over the years the birth of Christ has become the central focus of the season, and it is widely celebrated as a day to glorify God and the birth of Jesus.

Kick back, enjoy the fire on your feet and have a sugar cookie with your coffee. We are not going anywhere else, and it is time to enjoy the season and share our travels with our families and friends.

Enjoy a mummer's dance by Loreena McKennitt

Thank you for coming along with us. It has been a wonderful tour, but we are ready to bake our cookies, stuff the boxes and warm our feet by the fire. We wish you all a wonderful holiday season filled with caroling, church services, friends around the table, full tummies, families that don’t fight and cookies that don’t add any pounds.

All our best!
And to all a Good Night!
Julie and Harry

Looking for something different?
Here are more links to additional beautiful, handmade gifts.

Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4
Week 5
Week 6

Week 7

Week 8
Week 9
Week 10

Week 11
Week 12 pt 1
Week 12 pt 2