Christmas is one of the most widely celebrated and most popular holidays in the world. Religious people celebrate it, atheists celebrate it, people in the East, West North and South celebrate it. It is the festival of family love all over the world, but there are quite some differences in how the celebration goes. Not even the number of days we celebrate Xmas for is the same!

How well do you know the Anglo-Saxon traditions? How different are they from yours?

Fill in this quiz and find out!

You can find explanations and fun facts connecting to each question below the quiz. But don’t open the toggles yet! First do the quiz, then read the info in the drop-down toggles 🙂

What do you know about the anglo-saxon Xmas?

Santa Claus

Father Christmas is a lot older personification of Christmas than Santa Claus. Until Victorian times, Father Christmas was a figure connecting to the feasting (= eating, drinking, having a party) and merry-making of adults. He had no particular connection with children, nor with the giving of presents, night-time visits, stockings or chimneys. But as Christmases developed into child-centric family festivals in the Victorian era, Father Christmas became a bringer of gifts. The popular American myth of Santa Claus arrived in England in the 1850s and Father Christmas started to take on Santa’s attributes. Any distinctions (= difference making) between Father Christmas and Santa Claus disappeared by the 20th century.

Stockings

There is a legend that tells us where the custom of hanging stockings by the fireplace for gifts comes from. It goes like this:

“There was a poor man who had three daughters. The man was so poor that he did not have enough money for a dowry (dowry =  a sum of money given the bridegroom by the brides’ parents on the wedding day.), so his daughters couldn’t get married. One night, Nicholas secretly dropped a bag of gold down the chimney and into the house. The bag fell into a stocking that had been hung by the fire to dry! With the gold, the oldest daughter was able to marry. NIcholas did the same thing for the second daughter. Finally, determined to discover the person who had given him the money, the father secretly hid by the fire every evening until he caught Nicholas dropping in a bag of gold. Nicholas begged the man not to tell anyone what he had done, because he did not want to bring attention to himself. But soon the news got out and when anyone received a secret gift, they thought that maybe it was from Nicholas.”

(Saint Nicholas is connected to the figure of Father Christmas / Santa Claus)

source: whychristmas.com

Mistletoe

People standing under the mistletoe can (and should) kiss! This custom comes from England. In Norse mythology, mistletoe was a symbol of love and friendship. This is where this tradition comes from.

Mistletoe is a parasite plant that grows on trees. During the Christmas season, people hang it in the house as a decoration. This tradition goes back to the times of the ancient Druids. It is supposed to have mystical powers: bring good luck to the household and ward off ( = keep away) evil spirits.

The name “mistletoe” comes from Anglo Saxon. “Mistel” means dung and “tan” means stick! So you could translate Mistletoe as “poo on a stick”! Not exactly romantic, is it?

Christmas pudding

Christmas pudding is a special dessert traditionally served as part of the Christmas dinner. It is originally British, but it has spread to other countries where British and Irish immigrants had settled. It is a very old recipe! People have been making it since the Middle Ages! It is made traditionally of thirteen ingredients, symbolizing Jesus and the Twelve Apostles. There are many dried fruits in it, eggs, a special kind of fat, sometimes treacle or molasses and it is flavoured with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, and other spices.

But what Xmas pudding is really famous for is its aging period. When it is prepared, it has to be let to settle for at least a month. Some cooks let it rest for a year! It contains lots of alcohol, so it doesn’t go off (=stays good).

Boxing day

Boxing Day is on December 26th. It was started in the UK about 800 years ago, during the Middle Ages. It was the day when the alms boxes (= collection boxes for the poor in churches) were traditionally opened and the poor could receive the contents.

It was also traditional that servants got the day off to celebrate Christmas with their families on Boxing Day. Before World War II, working people (such as milkmen and butchers) used to travel round their delivery places and collect their Christmas box or tip. 

In many European countries, Boxing Day is simply the second Christmas Day.

Christmas Carols

A Christmas carols are songs with a Christmas theme. In the holiday season, caroling is a custom in the Anglo-Saxon world. Choirs sing in churches, in the streets, or sometimes go from hosue to house.

When is Xmas exactly?

Christmas Eve is the Day before Christmas Day, December 24. It is not a public holiday in the United Kingdom or the United States but it is a day of preparations for the Christmas season. Christmas Eve is the last day for many people to shop and prepare for the Christmas celebrations and festive meals. 

Real celebrations start on 25th December, Christmas Day, and traditionally, people start the day by seeing what presents Santa put in their stockings. This day is a public holiday both in the UK and the US.

Boxing Day is a public holiday in the UK, but not in every state of the US.

The Twelve Days of Christmas, also known as Twelvetide, is a festive Christian season celebrating the Nativity of Jesus. In most Western ecclesiastical traditions, “Christmas Day” is considered the “First Day of Christmas” and the Twelve Days are 25 December – 5 January, inclusive. 

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