Thursday, December 10, 2015

Christmas Ornaments from Around the World

A star from Bethlehem

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas at my house. When my kids were younger, they often had the school assignment of telling the class about a holiday tradition from their heritage. While I forget what their reports covered, I clearly remember one classmate's presentation on Tio Nadal, the pooping log or cagatió, from Catalan, Spain. At first, I thought the kid was completely making it up, but an internet search confirmed his info. The hollow log is decorated with a face, traditional Catalonian hat and a blanket. In the days leading up to Christmas, the kids give Tio Nadal food offerings like fruit and nuts which he mysteriously eats when no one is looking. According to Donquijote.org,

"On Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, according to traditions of each family, the children will approach the cagatió while singing: 
'Poop log, poop turron, if you don't poop well, I'll hit you with a stick' 
There are many variations to the song depending on each family and their traditions. After each song, the kids hit the cagatió with a stick to make it poop. After their parents quickly distract the children, a small present, normally candies, turron (Spanish nougat) or wafers (called neules en Catalonia), appears underneath the blanket. Nowadays, more and more often, different presents are being incorporated into the cagatió pooping log tradition. 
The process is repeated until the log “poops” a head of garlic, an onion, an egg, or any other symbolic item that represents the end of the fun until next year."

It's so fascinating how different places celebrate the same holiday. For the record, Krampus can stay far, far away from me. My family doesn't have an Elf on a Shelf, but I kind of want Tio Nadal.



An Italian hot air balloon, Tahitian palm ornament and a Swedish bird

Like many others, I enjoy collecting Christmas ornaments when we travel around the world. They're typically easy to stash in the suitcase and don't break the budget.


A German house, a hat from Budapest and a keychain from Cuba

My mother-in-law has amassed quite a collection over the decades. I always love looking at her tree and trying to guess where something is from. There's cuckoo clocks from Bavaria and Chinese lanterns. There are some that we've given her, too, like a little sea turtle from the Cayman Islands.

Ornaments from Russia, Taiwan and Korea

In the last few years, she's switched to a smaller, more manageable tree that only has room for her very favorites. The ones in this post are a sampling of them.

Ornaments from Austria, Yugoslavia and El Salvador

Do you have a special worldly Christmas tradition?


Finland




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33 comments:

  1. I enjoy seeing my Christian friends celebrate the festival! They share lots of Christmas cakes with me and I love them. Enjoyed seeing your collections. :)

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  2. Well Michelle, not sure if you know Puerto Rico has one of the longest Christmas celebrations in the world. People basically celebrate the entire month of December. Try to get service from a public office during that time! After the 25th and New Year's day, the Epiphany is celebrated on January 6th. Christmas is officially over 8 days after that day (that period is known as Las Octavitas). On top of that, the most famous public fiesta of the island starts when the Octavitas are done (Fiestas de la Calle San Sebastian). So I guess people celebrate the entire month of January too.

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  3. Great ornaments! Love the one from Finland. I don't have any unique Christmas traditions other than eating homemade ravioli, listening to John Denver's Christmas album and making Croatian sausage with my dad.
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  4. I've bought a glass Christmas Tree Ornament from Japan that has little red apples hanging from the branches. My husband's family (Australian) has a tradition of eating pickled onions with ham and eggs for Christmas Breakfast. My side of the family (Aussies too) think that pickled onions don't belong on the breakfast table!

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  5. I love collecting Christmas ornaments from different places as it always takes me back to that place when I'm decorating my Christmas tree. Our family tradition is normally present giving early on Christmas morning followed by a surf or swim at the beach.

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  6. Love your ornaments!:) #weekend travel inspiration

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  7. Such beautiful ornaments, Michele, and I love the stories too.
    Though we have evergreen trees in the higher elevations in Jamaica, we don't have a tree tradition like here. Instead, those who can afford it (electricity is costly), put lights on a tree or trees near their houses.
    I think our biggest tradition is sorrel and cake which you'd only see at Christmas. When my mom was alive, she'd have fruits soaking in rum all year for the black cake she'd make for Christmas (though we call it black cake, it's really a fruit cake. We add burnt sugar to the batter to give it a deep brown color). She'd have baked by now and stored the cakes safely somewhere in the house and continue adding rum to keep them moist until Christmas Day when she would offer to relatives and friends who'd drop by. Visiting relatives and friends during the holidays is still popular in Jamaica. People you haven't seen all year will just show up for a visit so the cake and sorrel comes in pretty handy. Sorrel is a drink made from sorrel leaves with lots of fresh ginger and spiked with rum. (You might notice a theme here: rum.)
    We also go to the beach and 'lime' - hang out with friends and eat and drink. Not much gets done until about the second week in January.

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  8. What a lovely way to buy those little nic nacks from around the world on your travels. tey don't clutter the house but instead have a wonderful purpose that you get to enjoy each year as you redecorate your tree. Have a Merry Christmas Michelle

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  9. That sounds like a wonderful way to celebrate. I am not familiar with sorrel. Have you kept up your mother's tradition of making black cake? It sounds delicious. I do indeed detect a Jamaican rum theme.

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  10. Oh, that sounds like a very lovely Christmas at the beach. What fun!

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  11. I think I agree with your side of the family. No pickled onions at breakfast for me.

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  12. John Denver is a classic. I've never had Croatian sausage. I bet it's delicious.

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  13. I really like that the Puerto Ricans really stretch out the celebration.

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  14. I think collecting ornaments is such a nice tradition. We used to do it, but now we travel too much to collect anything but photos. Love it Michele!

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  15. Sorrel is also called roselle. Wikipedia says you can find it in parts of South Asia but it seems everyone calls it by a different name.
    I was her assistant when I lived at home but wasn't interested in baking until the Christmas before she passed. It was the weirdest thing: I had the sudden urge to bake a month before I left to spend Christmas with her. I did and now It's part of my tradition. It always makes me feel more connected to her than anything else we did together.

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  16. Michelle, this is a post after my heart! I love Christmas decorations and can't think of anything more appropriate at this time of year. Love it! Thanks for joining us for #TheWeekklyPostcard.

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  17. My parents have decorations from all over the world and I love their tree, but somehow despite the fact that I've travelled hugely I've never thought to collect Christmas tree ornaments. I wish I had some from the countries I've lived in at least!!! Great post Michelle.

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  18. I have a few treasured decorations from a December trip to Germany many years ago. They are all timber and feature elves. These have been slowly overtaken by decorations made by my children ... but I always try to fit them somewhere on the tree. There's lots of branches! :-)

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  19. We steep the flowers overnight in ginger and boiling water, strain and sweeten it and add a little rum. Delicious!

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  20. Fun decorations! I believe in an eclectic tree with decorations that reflect your families life. We've started bringing snow globes back from our trips, it we try to find small ones!

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  21. My kids' decorations are also featured on my tree. As they get older, production has been slowing down.

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  22. I bet you're usually traveling during the holiday break, too. There was less incentive for me to put up a tree if I was only going to be home for a short time.

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  23. What a cute tradition, convenient, fun and inexpensive! To answer your question, I'm sure I'll sound like an oddball, but I've become enamored with the idea of NOT having stuff, including holiday decorations. For me, having fewer possessions feels incredibly freeing (plus it was such a chore putting them away!).


    It might seem that we're missing out, but we're really not: Instead of Christmas and New Year's, our December tradition is to focus on our anniversary, which falls between the two. We enjoy planning a romantic getaway together.

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  24. Hi Michele! I've just learned recently of the Spanish Christmas "pooper". However, I hadn't read the traditions associated. Kind of weird in a happy sort of way! I haven't had a Christmas tree since I left Canada, although I have spent Christmas with friends over the years, who do put up trees, and it's always fun to help them decorate. I gave up my ornament collection when I left Canada. Once I'm settled somewhere permanently I'm sure I collect again, The ornaments you've shown us here are lovely!

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  25. Nice to see these from so many places. We just purchased some handpainted ornaments from Russia as a gift for my husband's parents.

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  26. This is a great collection! I love little ornaments and from around the world, that's awesome!

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  27. That is quite a collection! We collect ornaments too or turn keychains or magnets into ornaments.I love that pooper log story and kinda want Tio Nadal too. We don't do the Elf on the shelf thing.I wish we had a worldly Christmas tradition other than to put up the tree. The closest cultural thing we have is to put the Filipino "parol" up.

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  28. Lisa @ Gone With The FamilyDecember 20, 2015 at 11:41 AM

    What a lovely collection, Michele! I particularly like the star from Bethlehem - what a special ornament! My husband and I have been collecting ornaments since we first started travelling together more than 20 years ago and we love getting them out every Christmas and reminiscing about where we have been. My older daughter moved into her own place this year and now has a small Christmas tree of her own to start decorating with ornaments from her travels!

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