How #PriorityPeople celebrate Christmas around the world
Here at Priority Freight, the run up to Christmas is always one of our busiest times; with the increased volume of transports required, added pressure to road infrastructure and supply chains, along with the need to deliver items ahead of the Christmas shutdown. Combined with the winter weather, particularly when it comes to air freight, many clients look to logistics providers like Priority Freight to bolster their delivery network or provide contingency solutions when things go wrong.
But even with our knowledge and experience in keeping supply chains running during the Christmas period, we shudder to think of the logistics faced by Father Christmas (a.k.a. Santa Claus, Santi or Weihnachtsmann – our multi-cultural teams have many names for him) as he faces his annual challenge to deliver presents all over the world! 🎄
For most of us, what we look forward to is the family time, and the traditions that make that time together even more special. Our Priority Freight family is made up of team members from 22 countries, all working together in our offices across Europe (and the UK) – not to mention our partners worldwide – and we love to share with each other our different traditions from around the world.
We thought you would be interested to find out a little bit more about how we all celebrate Christmas.
Let’s start with some of our colleagues who come from the countries closest to the North Pole, and then move south!
Christmas in the Faroe Islands
Jeanet Rasmussen | Sales Coordinator, Dover
Christmas is a time for family and friends, especially those coming home from overseas, who drive from village to village to see everyone.
The main day is Christmas Eve, and it starts by going to church. When we get home, we put on Alex Bærendsen’s classic Christmas album, “Jólagleði” and break out the board games; classics like Scrabble and Monopoly have been translated into Faroese.
Food and drink are both really important. Føroya Bjór, the biggest and oldest brewery, brew a special Christmas beer every year.
Baking and food in general are key parts of the celebrations. Piparnøtur (pepper nuts) are slightly spicy and very addictive and we always try to get our hands on ræst kjøt (fermented mutton). Roast duck comes a close second, overflowing with gravy, Dauphinoise potatoes and red cabbage. Rice a la Mande with cherry sauce is a must for dessert but be careful not to choke on the hidden almond! The finder gets a special present. We then swap gifts after everyone has eaten.
Gleðilig jól (Merry Christmas) to all!
Christmas in Poland
Laura Oskinsa | Logistics Team Leader, Wroclaw
Christmas Eve is the most important day of Christmas for Polish families.
In the background you’ll find a beautiful, shiny green Christmas tree, with lots of colourful presents underneath. At the table there is always one empty place waiting for an unexpected guest, who might be someone who needs help, who is hungry, homeless or just alone. Nobody should be alone on Christmas Eve, and we will welcome anyone who knocks on the door.
In Poland, you can’t eat until the first star, called the Bethlehem Star, appears in the sky. We’ll sing carols until it finally appears, then share a holy wafer, wish all the best to each other and begin the Christmas Eve supper. After dinner we’ll exchange gifts – Santa Claus brings presents for those who have been good!
A traditional German Christmas
Thit Ewers | Logistics Coordinator, Düsseldorf
Christmas, or Weihnachten, in Germany is considered to be the most important holiday. The season starts on the first Sunday of Advent – and many set aside special evenings for preparing food, gifts and decorations, like Stollen, the oldest known German Christmas treat, and Christmas cookies (Plätzchen).
Did you know that advent calendars (Adventskalender) were a German invention, originally designed to involve children in the festivities?
Christmas markets open in nearly every German town. Town squares, normally dark in winter, light up and buzz with activity and little cabins sell Christmas foods and decorations, like hand-carved wooden Nutcrackers (Nussknacker).
December 6th is Nikolaustag, St. Claus day. A shoe or boot is left outside the night before with hopes that in the morning it will be filled with presents. In some regions, Knecht Ruprecht or „Krampus“ accompanies Nikolaus, leaving rods in the shoe of those who have been bad.
In some parts of Germany, mainly the southeast, children write letters to Christkind/Christkindl asking for presents, decorate the envelopes with sugar to make them sparkle, and leave them by windows during advent. Others write to Weihnachtsmann (Father Christmas), as some say that he brings the presents instead!
We lay out wreaths of fir trees with four red candles in the centre and light one candle each Sunday, until the Sunday before Christmas Eve – Heiligabend – when we exchange presents.
The Tannenbaum (Christmas tree) is usually put up and decorated on Christmas Eve, though some put it up sooner. We use real candles instead of electric lights, and put a nativity scene underneath with presents next to it. The Tannenbaum is taken down on New Year’s Day or January 6th, Three King’s Day, and the children ransack it for the sweets and treats that decorated it.
Three King’s Day is the day of Sternsingers (star singers) who visit houses between December 27th and January 6th, singing and collecting money for charity. Four child singers dress up as the three wise men, with one carrying a star representing the Star of Bethlehem. When they’ve finished singing, they leave a chalk signature over the door to bring luck and health for the following year.
Germany wishes you Fröhliche Weihnachten!
Celebrating Christmas in the Czech Republic
Marta Bojda | Supplier Management Administrator, Dover
The Christmas celebrations begin on the first Sunday of Advent, when the first candle is lit. On the evening of the 5th December (St. Nicholas Eve), the children await the arrival of St.Nicholas (Svatý Mikuláš) to arrive. He asks the children if they’ve been good all year, asks them to recite a song or poem and then gives them a basket filled with fruit and chocolate (though if you’ve been naughty, you might get coal!).
St. Nicholas’ day is a separate celebration to Christmas, and the day is spend playing in Nativity plays and Christmas concerts, as well as baking lots of Christmas cookies and drinking Eggnog.
Christmas Eve is an important day for us, and this is when the presents are opened after being brought to us by baby Jesus. It is tradition to eat carp and potato salad (often the carp is bought at the Christmas market and kept alive in the bath until Christmas Day!) before heading off to Midnight Mass. The rest of the Christmas period is spent visiting and spending time with the family.
Veselé Vianoce from the Czech Republic!
Christmas in Romania
Alina Groza | Logistics Coordinator, Madrid
A Romanian Christmas is centred around family and friends, starting with the decoration of the Christmas tree. Traditionally, my father brings the Christmas tree to the house, my mother is in charge of making food and cakes for everyone, and my job is to buy all the presents and clean the house.
On Christmas Eve most people visit the church during the day and then visit friends’ homes to sing Christmas carols and spend time with one another. We then spend Christmas Eve together as a family, eating traditional food such as Sarmale (minced meat wrapped in cabbage leaf) and Cozonac (a traditional sponge cake).
Christmas Day involves even more eating! We then open up all the Christmas presents delivered by Santa and spend the rest of the day watching Christmas films and letting all the food go down.
A real Spanish Christmas
Diego Ontiveros | Business Development Manager, Madrid
In Spain, Christmas fun lasts until celebrating the Wise Men on January 5th.
On Christmas Eve we join our family for dinner, and enjoy gastronomic delights, especially typical Spanish products like turrones and marzipan.
On Christmas Day we eat together and give presents. But in Spain not everyone celebrates Santa Claus, it is more typical to celebrate the Three Kings, or Wise Men, on January 5th.
December 28th is the day of the Innocent Saints, a very special day of fun and jokes. In Madrid it is typical to go to the main square and buy joke products to send around the world.
On New Year’s Eve we usually get together to dine with friends or family, toasting the past and New Year. One custom is to eat 12 grapes during the last moments of the year. It’s not easy to eat 12 grapes in less than 30 seconds!
And to end Christmas, we have the Three Kings. During the night of January 5th the Wise Men visit and leave gifts.
These are just some of the different traditions and customs celebrated by our Priority Freight family around the world. One of the loveliest things about working together is that it gives us a change to share customs with each other.
How will you be celebrating Christmas this year?