December 21, 2022
Every European country has holiday traditions; some you would expect, and others…not so much. We thought you would like to hear about a few more customs. We will start with the German pickle. Yep, it’s a German tradition. A pickle-like ornament (not the real thing) is hung on the tree and is usually passed down through generations. The first child to find it on the tree gets a gift along with good luck for the coming year.
In France, it is a tradition that each Christmas Eve, three tablecloths are set out with 13 desserts. Everyone is expected to try a little of each dessert. The desserts must stay out for three days. In Croatia, children clean their shoes and put them in the window. Good children will find sweets and presents in their shoes the next day. Naughty children will get a golden switch.
In Hungary, it is customary to cut up an apple into as many slices as there are family members at the dinner table. Everyone eats their piece of apple, ensuring all will be together at the dinner table the next year. In Russia, there is a New Year’s tree with decorations, such as toys, cones, lights, and a star topping the tree. At midnight, all make wishes, eat, and drink.
In Ukraine, many people decorate Christmas trees with artificial spider webs (and maybe a fake spider)! This tradition came from a legend about a widow who received good fortune from spiders. A spider spun a web to decorate the widow’s tree, and the web turned to gold and silver in the morning sunlight.
Maybe your family practices these Old World traditions, or perhaps you can start some new ones this holiday season.
Midwest Genealogy Center