This blog post was updated on August 8, 2018.
Depending on your background, different images come to mind when you hear the word “Christmas.” Here are five symbols of Christmas that you might encounter during a holiday trip around the world. Wishing you beauty and joy this holiday season.
Also known as a poinsettia, the cuetlaxochitl is an important symbol of Christmas in Mexico. In their native habitat of Mexico, cuetlaxochitls can grow as high as 10 feet tall. Cuetlaxochitls are often seen decorating churches, city squares, and homes throughout the holiday season.
Santons are small hand-painted clay figurines traditionally made in the southern French region of Provence. Many people collect santons and acquire entire crèche scenes. In a traditional Provençal crèche, there are actually 55 santons that represent the usual crèche scene characters as well as various people from traditional village life such as the baker, the fisherman, the blind man, and the chestnut seller.
The legend of Babouschka (Russian grandmother) is a Russian Christmas tradition. So much so that Babouschka has become a symbol of the holidays. As legend has it, Babouschka is the woman who helped to direct the Three Kings to Bethlehem to visit the baby Jesus. When they asked her to come with them, she declined because of the cold. She instantly regretted her decision, but by the time she went outside they were gone. Now Babouschka delivers presents to children as she searches for Jesus’ manger.
The Joulupukki (Finland)
The Joulupukki (“Yule Goat”) and is a symbol of Christmas in other parts of Scandinavia as well. The Joulupukki (a person dressed as a long-horned goat) makes the rounds and performs for leftover food after Christmas). The Joulupukki also appears in Finnish books and in miniature as a Christmas ornament.
Bolo Rei (Portugal)
Bolo Rei (King’s Cake) is a delicious Christmas symbol in Portugal. It is traditionally eaten on both Christmas Day and Epiphany (January 6th). These round, bready cakes decorated with candied fruits and nuts (symbolizing the gifts brought by the Magi) can be found in Portuguese bakeries throughout the holiday season.
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