The EU explained Part VI – Christmas: United in Diversity


The origin and the name given to this celebration are different depending on the country. For exemple, for the French word Noël definitely comes from the Latin word natalis (birth).The masses of Christ, held by English evangelists in December, gave birth to the English word “Christmas”. Taking place in the last few days of December, this holiday is not celebrated in the same way in every country. There are many symbols attached to this holiday in Europe, and each country has kept its own identity and traditions, while enriching them with influences form various other sources. This diversity and richness prove the importance given by Europeans to the Christmas holiday.

Advent corresponds to the four-week period that precedes “the arrival”(adventus in Latin) of baby Jesus, that is Christmas. In certain parts of Germany, Advent begins on the 11th November, on Saint Martin’s Day. Depending on the country, various saints are honoured in a meaningful way during this period. These celebrations sometimes become more important than Christmas itself.

The Advent Calendar is a tradition of German origin aimed to encourage children to be patient until Christmas.

The evergreen Christmas tree, like ivy and holly, is the symbol of eternal life. This tradition is first mentioned in the 16th century, in Alsace. Christmas Markets originated in the Middle Ages. The oldest are those taking place in Vienna in Austria and Munich in Germany. In Spain, the Wise Kings, Melchior, Gaspard and Balthazar, occupy a prominent place in Christmas celebrations, similar to Father Christmas in other countries.

Giving presents probably refers to the three kings visiting Jesus and bringing him gifts.



Europe Direct Information Centre of Hajdú-Bihar

Hajdú-Bihar Megyei Europe Direct Információs Központ

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *