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  The Chatter Box : Blathering On
Messages 1 2 

A child's view of Christmas by perfectbitch on 6 December 2005 6:46pm
I love to see children enjoying this time of year and I have a funny story which I thought I would share with you.

A good few years ago, when my nephew, Tom, was coming up to 7 years old, he became a little nervous after his house had been burgled while they were on holiday. The burglers had entered the house through Tom's bedroom window. It was mid-December and he had got used to going to bed in his room again. As the house doesn't have traditional chimneys, he had been told that Father Christmas came in through his window.

So, he announced to his Mum, "Mum, I think Father Christmas must be a kind burglar."

My sister was concerned that this confusion may make him nervous again so she decided to tell him the truth.

"Oh Tom, I have to tell you, it's not Father Christmas who gives you your presents, it's me and your Dad."

He shrank back in horror saying, "You mean you go out all night on Christmas Eve and leave me on my own."
Re: A child's view of Christmas by Spursfan on 6 December 2005 8:09pm
As a child I used to cry when I heard the old song 'I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus' as I thought the mother of the child in the song was having an affair with Santa (though I didn't know what an affair was, I knew she was kissing Santa not her husband!!!).

It really used to upset me! But I come from a stable, happy family with parents who were totally faithful for about 40 years so I don't know where the hurt came from!

Anyway, I still believe in Santa - doesn't everyone?

I have seen his tomb in Myra Southern Turkey!
Re: A child's view of Christmas by Ahren on 6 December 2005 8:55pm
lol! Linz, that is hilarious!!!
Re: A child's view of Christmas by suzulu on 7 December 2005 12:46am
That's wonderful, Linz, and lol, Spursfan, Santa's tomb in Turkey??
Re: A child's view of Christmas by tucsonmike on 7 December 2005 1:51am
I like the story. I remember seeing something on the History Channel about St. Nick's tomb being in Turkey. Now there is an irony for you. Moslem country with that tomb...
Re: A child's view of Christmas by Tauriel on 7 December 2005 2:36am
Spursfan: Just remember that there's quite a big difference between St. Nicholas and (the American) Santa Claus. ;) Santa may have come from St. Nicholas, but they're nothing alike now, because Santa Claus was 1) artificially designed by Coca-Cola Company in 50's or 60's (if I'm not mistaken...) and 2) he's now so uber-commercialised, that there's no way he can be associated with St. Nicholas, apart from the name.

St. Nicholas was a bishop in Turkey, I think in 4th century or so. There's a legend about him which says that there was a poor man who had three daughters and no one would marry them because they were poor. So St. Nicholas came to their house three nights in a row and each time left a small bag of money on the window, so that the man's daughters would have at least some dowry. From that legend comes a tradition of giving presents.

In most of European countries (such as Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria...), December 6th is the day of St. Nicholas (incidentally, it's actually today... ;-)). On the eve of this day, kids clean their boots and put them in the windows, because it's believed that during the night, St. Nicholas comes and fills them with sweets and fruits. Sometimes St. Nicholas really comes to give those to the children personally, and he has a small devil with him. If the kids were bad, they don't get any sweets, but a piece of coal or a potato from the devil.

Here in Prague, many young people get together and dress up as St. Nicholas with a devil (they also add an angel nowadays), walk around the city and collect money, with which they then buy sweets and presents for children in hospitals, creches, and such. Yesterday I went out and I met three parties of those. :-)

Anyway. This is a sort of a "prelude" to Christmas here. When I was a kid, I was always determined to wait for St. Nicholas in my room. It was quite a big problem for my parents, because I would refuse to go out and they had no other way to put the sweets in the boot... :-D But my Mum would always find a way (usually it was the bedtime cartoon played in the TV that lured me out). I would always get pretty mad that I missed St. Nicholas again!

As for Christmas, we believe (since the vast majority of Slovaks are Christians, Catholics to be more precise) that Baby Jesus comes with his angels and brings the tree and all the presents. When I was a kid, on Christmas Eve, the door to our living room would be locked the whole day. My Mum would be in the kitchen, preparing the Christmas Eve dinner (which is the main Christmas meal here, consisting of a sauerkraut soup with mushrooms, carp with a potato salad, and "opekance" - little dumplings made of baked bread dough, flavoured with honey and poppy seeds), and I would sit on the ground at the locked living room door, peering through the keyhole, trying to spy something moving inside. :-D I would even try to send messages through the keyhole, begging the Baby Jesus to let me in, so I could help Him. It was fun. :-) At 17:00 we'd have the dinner and then I'd go with my Dad to my room, looking out of my window to see in which flats they already had the tree up. Then my Mum would ring a small bell and I would sprint to the living room, thoroughly excited, and stop dead in my tracks at the sight of the tree, all lit up and sparkling, all the presents underneath... ah, what a wonderful feeling that was. :-) And then we'd sing the Silent Night (I'd play the piano) and then we'd open the presents.

So, there you have it, a taste of our Advent and Christmas traditions. But there's much, much more, I just didn't want to post a too long post. Even though this will be quite long... :-P
Re: A child's view of Christmas by sighthound on 7 December 2005 3:12am
Thanks, Tauriel. I love these tales of Christmas stories, traditions and menus. More, please, from other places....
Re: A child's view of Christmas by Tauriel on 7 December 2005 3:30am
;-) Some more random Slovak Advent/Christmas traditions:

* On the St. Lucia's day (December 13), young girls would take thirteen pieces of paper, on twelve they'd write names of boys and one they'd left clear. Then they'd fold them up and every evening until the Christmas Eve they'd burn one piece. On Christmas Eve they'd end up with one piece left, and the name on it would be the name of their future husband. In case they were left with a paper with no name on it, they would never marry. ;-) Also, on St. Lucia's day, kids would leave their letters for Baby Jesus (containing their Christmas wishes) in the window. It was believed that St. Lucia would collect them and take them to Baby Jesus.

* On St. Andrew's day (November 30), girls would melt lead and pour it through a hole in a key into a mug filled with water. From the shape of the hardened lead they'd then try to guess their future husband's occupation. :-)

* During the Christmas Eve dinner, people used to wrap a chain around the table's legs, symbolizing that the family should stick together. Also a small coin would be placed under the tablecloth, under every person's plate (so that the family would be wealthy throughout the whole next year). We still keep this tradition, as well as the tradition of having an extra plate for the loved ones from our family who have died.
Re: A child's view of Christmas by jaime on 7 December 2005 5:32am
Re: A child's view of Christmas by tucsonmike on 7 December 2005 5:55am
Thanks Maria for putting all that up. I missed Christmas in Eastern Europe (was there in October)...
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