Christmas around the world: Celebrating Christmas in Russia
Seven interesting facts you may not know
Christmas in Russia is normally celebrated on the 7th January in accordance with the Russian Orthodox Julian Calendar.
The Russian advent lasts for 40 days, starting on the 28th November and ending on the 6th January.
The official Christmas holidays in Russia are from the 31st of December until the 10th of January.
In Russian Happy/Merry Christmas is ‘s rah-zh-dee-st-VOHM’ (C рождеством!) or ‘s-schah-st-lee-vah-vah rah-zh dee-st-vah’ (Счастливого рождества!).
On Christmas Day, hymns and carols are sung. People gather in churches which have been decorated with the usual Christmas trees ( Ёлка), flowers and coloured lights.
Christmas dinner includes a variety of different meats – goose and suckling pig are favourites.
The ‘Babushka’ is a traditional Christmas figure who distributes presents to children. The word ‘Babushka’ is translated as grandmother in English.
Merry Christmas! It’s Christmas! Here’s how to say “Merry Christmas” in 10 languages…
English Merry Christmas
French Joyeux Noël
German Frohe Weihnachten
Welsh Nadolig Llawen
Italian Buon Natale
Spanish Feliz Navidad
Danish Glædelig Jul
Russian Schastlivogo Rozhdestva
Polish Wesołych Świąt
Swedish God Jul
Portuguese Feliz Natal
From all of us here at Lingua Translations we hope you have a very Merry Christmas and a happy New Year. Bring on 2018!
Saint Nick seemed to form part of the remaining quarter of the inhabitants who don’t speak Welsh. Some parents, whose children speak Welsh as their first language, complained to the local council because this Father Christmas was unable to speak to their children in their mother tongue.
Their argument is that their children should be able to speak to the jolly old man in Welsh because they are not as confident or comfortable speaking in English.
In recent years the Welsh assembly has plunged money into Welsh language resources in an effort to promote its usage. A nation fiercely proud of its heritage and culture is also keen to ensure that Cymraeg does not fade away. Not just that though, the aim is to give this minority language equal importance in all areas possible. According to the Welsh Language Act 1993 and the Government of Wales Act 1998, the Welsh and English languages should be treated equally in the public sector. However, although many shops employ bilingual signage, Welsh still rarely appears on product packaging or instructions. Does this show that the Welsh language still has a way to go before it can be considered equal? Can it ever be on an equal footing in a country where so many do not speak it?
So can Father Christmas speak other languages? He is a man of many names in different languages world-wide so we can only assume that he is able to speak to the children of the world in their native tongues! Perhaps this has so far only extended to some of the minority languages though. In a world where around 6900 languages are spoken, is it any surprise that Santa struggles to speak them all? In his modern attire, Kris Kringle is over 144 years old and counting. Perhaps he has been learning languages as he goes along but whilst he is clearly a hyperpolyglot already, with so many places to visit and languages to speak it is perhaps just that he got confused as to where this grotto, from which he was stumbling after too many sherries and mince pies, was located and immediately reverted to English. At least this experience may encourage Santa to brush up on his Welsh for future visits!
What are your thoughts; is it necessary to be able to speak Welsh if you are working with the public in Wales?
We hope you are all having a lovely Christmas Day! For more information on our services and the languages we work in (including Welsh) please do not hesitate to visit our languages
Christmas in Spain starts with the traditional Christmas lottery draw on 22nd December.
Two days later, the night of the 24th, is “Noche Buena”, when the whole family get together at home and usually eat lamb or stuffed turkey, and for dessert, a scoop of ice cream with pineapple. After the meal the host places a tray full of turrones (nougat), chocolates and polvorones (shortbread) in the centre of the table, and while the adults toast with a glass of cider or champagne, the children sing carols to their grandparents in return for being allowed to eat nougat, chocolates and shortbread. Later, Santa Claus knocks on the door and leaves the children’s presents under the tree and the children run like crazy to get them.
The following morning, the 25th, the family come together again to eat and celebrate Christmas Day (the birth of Jesus).
The 28th is known as el día de los santos inocentes (Holy Innocents day), and typical pranks are played such as knocking on doors and running away, sticking paper dolls on people’s backs, etc….
On 31st December, Noche vieja (new year’s eve), family and friends come together to have dinner. We have fireworks and parties, and when the twelve chimes sound at midnight we eat a grape with each chime. If you manage to eat all twelve grapes by the end of the chimes you will have good luck throughout the year.
In the afternoon of the 5th January, los Reyes Magos (the three kings) pass through the streets of the city greeting children, picking up cards and handing out sweets. When the parade finishes, children run home to bed early to get ready for the three kings who will leave presents under the Christmas tree. On the 6th January, children wake up and go to the tree to see if the three kings have visited them, if they’ve been good there will be gifts, but if not there will just be a lump of coal. The rest of the day is spent visiting relatives and playing with new toys.
Ho ho ho! Christmas is here!
Because having fun is the whole point of Christmas, isn’t it?
Celebrating life, family gatherings, giving and receiving, watching John Lewis Christmas adverts, the Muppet Christmas Carols and Die Hard altogether. Don’t forget eating loaaaaads, drinking even more, and especially forgetting about everything that went wrong in the year.
All the lights, the sweet music, family time and good food… There is something about all this that brings us back to our childhood, a nostalgic feeling about being protected, loved and in peace. “Cwtch” feeling, as Welsh people would describe it. And that feeling is universal. We have German Christmas trees, American red Coca-Cola Santa Claus and the Christian Nativity scene, other people around the world have Diwali or Eid.
Christmas in France
In France, Christmas is not as different as in the UK. It generally starts one or two weeks after Halloween. You learn how to detect the early signs. When toy adverts and “Home Alone” starts to appear on telly and Christmas lights seem to pop up from nowhere around your city, you know you’re nearly there. One thing I have found surprisingly charming in the UK (apart from John Lewis Christmas adverts) is people’s obsession for Christmas cards. In France, we are losing this habit, and it’s a shame. Sending Christmas cards to your family and friends is such a great gesture to show them that you care. I will definitely do it this year!
I have also noticed that in the UK, the 24th of December is not as important as the 25th or the 26th. In France, we have a traditional dinner on the 24th evening. We celebrate Christmas on the 25th, but we do not celebrate Boxing Day. Back home, on Christmas eve, we usually have smoked salmon, shrimps, oysters, blinis with foie gras, terrine, cheese and for dessert, a frozen Christmas log or “bûche de Noël”.
Things are getting serious (and heavy) on Christmas day, with a hundred-course-never-ending meal. As a main course we usually have roast turkey with chestnuts stuffing (“dinde aux marrons”). Same as you Brits but with less gravy. For dessert, we usually have 13 desserts, typical of Provence area (south east of France, where I am from). The 13 desserts are supposed to represent Jesus Christ and the 12 apostles. Despite all this, I must say I can’t wait to try UK’s very own traditional Christmas pudding and open my Christmas crackers, as we do not have any of this in France.
I hope that reading my blog article made you feel a bit more Christmassy. I’ll just finish on a quote from Kevin McCallister: “Merry Christmas, ya filthy animals!”
Auld Lang Syne
“Auld Lang Syne” is an old Scottish song first published by the poet Robert Burns in the 1796 edition of the book, Scots Musical Museum.
Burns transcribed and refined the lyrics after hearing them sung by an old man from the Ayrshire area of Scotland, Burns’s homeland.
But how many of us know the lyrics to the song beyond the first verse and the chorus?
“Auld Lang Syne” literally translates as “old long since” and means “times gone by.” The song asks whether old friends and times will be forgotten and promises to remember people of the past with fondness, “For auld lang syne, we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet.”
The lesser known verses continue this theme, lamenting how friends who once used to “run about the braes,/ And pou’d the gowans fine” (run about the hills and pulled up the daisies) and “paidl’d in the burn/Frae morning sun till dine” (paddled in the stream from morning to dusk) have become divided by time and distance—”seas between us braid hae roar’d” (broad seas have roared between us). Yet there is always time for old friends to get together—if not in person then in memory—and “tak a right guid-willie waught” (a good-will drink).
“Auld Lang Syne”
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne.
For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We’ll tak a cup of kindness yet,
For auld lang syne!
And surely ye’ll be your pint-stowp
And surely I’ll be mine,
And we’ll tak a cup o kindness yet,
For auld lang syne!
We twa hae run about the braes,
And pou’d the gowans fine,
But we’ve wander’d monie a weary fit,
Sin auld lang syne.
We twa hae paidl’d in the burn,
Frae morning sun till dine,
But seas between us braid hae roar’d
Sin auld lang syne.
And there’s a hand my trusty fiere
And gie’s a hand o thine,
And we’ll tak a right guid-willie waught,
For auld lang syne.