Friday, December 17, 2004

A Daily Mirror article the other day provided a brief insight into the way that Christmas is celebrated around the globe. We seem to live in such a homogeneous world that we probably assume that everyone of vaguely Christian faith or upbringing will sit down to a turkey roast on December 25th (... or, more likely, on Thanksgiving Day, the way things are going). Not necessarily so.

I was surprised to learn, for instance, that the Dutch have already celebrated Christmas a lot earlier this month - it makes a country which is only a stone's throw away from my home in the south east seem like it's a world away.

Best scran-up award would go to Jamaica, with a meal including rice, peas, chicken, oxtail and goat curry, and a drink made up of rum and spices. If you are going to pig out on food, better this than the annual English stodgeathon.

A number of countries have superstitions which seem to come from the nightmarish Grimms' Fairytales tradition rather than our benign habit of leaving mince pies and a glass of sherry out for Santa. Whereas the British want to see children's faces light up with joy, those foreign johnnies prefer to scare the living daylights out of them. Too bloody right, I say!

The Greeks and Norwegians attempt to appease evil little gnomes, although there is no mention of how the Irish can protect their home against Bono, should he turn up at the front door. Mind, a 12 bore rifle should do the job nicely ...

The Spanish apparently leap over bonfires to ward off illness. This would surely backfire (SORRY - HONESTLY) as Spanish hospitals' accident and emergency departments end up being bedblocked by daft buggers with severely burned feet.

The most fun to be had on Christmas day, however, has to be in Finland. After the sitdown meal, everyone goes to visit the graves of dead relatives.

Which is still a lot more fun than having to spend the day with living relatives' fractious pre-school children.

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