Rus Articles Journal

Taste of Christmas

If at Orthodox Christians the main feast is arranged for Easter, and traditional sweet dishes are dated for this holiday, then in the Catholic and Protestant countries various sweets become first of all for Christmas. Long before a plentiful Christmas dinner or a lunch and still some time after it on festively laid tables confectionery of a bizzare shape appear, behind each of which there is the, sometimes surprising, history.

On Christmas tables the star pastries by all means meet. Unlike the “Kremlin“ star which at us could decorate New Year trees (instead of angels, popular before revolution) here the form, of course, sends to the Star of Bethlehem. And as “actually“ that star was a comet, in the western tradition these products and bake - “with a tail“. However, the simple form meets too: the German macaroon goods “cinnamon stars“ (“tsimtshteena“) and without any tail create joyful festive mood. The star pastries not a rarity and in a Romance zone of Europe - here first of all occur the North Italian Verona where “pandoro“, a ridge Easter cake from air yeast dough, it is necessary to cut horizontally - that not only all product entirely, but also each piece kept an eight-pointed “star“ form.

Other sweet attributes of Christmas are connected by

with mystical symbolics of numbers. Are especially popular 12 (Christoff` number of apostles) and 13 (apostles plus Jesus). In Provence, in the south of France, after a midnight Christmas mass still give thirteen types of a dessert: forest or walnuts, raisin, a dried fig, almonds (this “four“ symbolizes four just mendicant orders: Augustinians, Dominicans, Franciscans and karmelitok), diamond-shaped marzipans - “kalissona“ from the city of Eksa with melon candied fruits, white and black nougat, quince fruit jelly - “stalemate“, a winter melon, light grapes, tangerines, ancient sweet cake “pomp“ on olive oil, and also the dates stuffed with green and red marzipan. By the way, it is dark - green and is bright - red - too not casual, but very significant colors: they personify eternal life and the sparkling sun.

One more feature of the Western European celebration of Christmas is that begin to prepare for it long before the end of December. In days of old in prechristmas weeks Catholics observed a strict post, however eases, and after the Second Vatican cathedral were made over time (1962 - 1965), during which, in particular, entered church service in national languages, the Nativity Fast finally “went out of use“. Only its name - Advent (“coming“, that is Christ Redeemer`s Coming) remained. So still the holiday period which begins four Sundays prior to Christmas is called. Its indispensable attribute, especially in Northern Europe, - a wreath with 4 candles: on the fourth Sunday till a holiday on it light one candle, in the third two and so on, and by December 25 on a wreath all four candles burn already. Besides, this period includes several days of Saints, and very esteemed. And while children are amused with sweet calendars of Advent (a piece of cardboard with the windows for the every day which remained till Christmas representing “hiding place“ with candy, cookies, etc.), adults prepare traditional entertainments for each of these holidays. So gradually there is also a great Christmas mood...

on November 11. Saint Martin

From this day almost in all Europe was primordially conducted by

prechristmas counting of time.“ Saint Martin jumps on a horse through snow and wind“ - the beginning of an ancient German song. This day in Germany children represent sketches from life of the righteous person and go round carol-singing with lamps and torches from the yard to the yard, and on a table it is accepted to serve roast goose with red cabbage and various pastries. Often it is given the form of a goose - it is Martin`s symbol already many centuries.

Not less interestingly the situation is in Venice. Here one candy store seeks to outdo another, exposing in show-windows huge cookies from shortcake dough with a praline and multi-colored glaze in the form of riders with a raincoat and a sword - San Martino a cavallo. Children besides run on streets and sing songs about the great Saint, and their mothers terribly act with wooden spoons instead of swords, collecting a clownish tribute from passersby. By the way, Venetians already counted that if usual cookies in the form of Martin on a horse cost 6 euros for 100 grams, then same full-scale (that is a horse - 420 kilograms, the rider - 90, a sword - 4) will cost more than 30 thousand. Until none of confectioners ventured to go to a record - and suddenly there will be no madman who will buy it?

on December 6. Saint Nikolay

Bishop Nikolay Mirlikiysky, as we know, main Christmas Saint of Western Europe. To this day all children of the Netherlands, to Belgium and Germany on the night of December 6 (and not just on Christmas) expose the boots for doors for gifts - for certain Saint Nikolay will throw them something at night as it threw sacks with gold to three sisters - girls without dowry from the hometown in Asia Minor.

in Northern Europe by this day bake the figured spicy cookies “spekulatsius“ or “spekulaas“. It is stamped special ancient wooden cliches: old men with a bag behind shoulders, and also sometimes - windmills, bishops, children, animals and birds.

One more known “Nikolaev“ pastries are the most delicate “episcopal bread“ (“bishofsbrot“) which actually at all not bread, but a chocolate biscuit with candied fruits, especially popular in Austria. However, recently it began to be done also on the date of Saint Martin - by “analogy“. That was a bishop too...

on December 13. Saint Lucia

Once, according to an old Julian calendar, day of this the Saint fell on a winter solstice. This choice was not casual: the matter is that the name Lucia, or, in English, Lucy, always connected with Latin lux - “light“. Some kind of holiday of a symbolical change, light victory over winter darkness turned out. Most beautifully it celebrates in Scandinavia, especially in Sweden today. At each school and in each city choose the young Lucia, dress up in a snow-white dress and crown a wreath from the flaring candles. Then “Lucia“ stride on snow-covered streets together with a festive procession of children (the part of them is dressed up by star boys, part - gingerbread little men) and sing touching songs about the great martyr Lucia and her Christian feat. Sacred, as it is known with all in Western Europe, paid with life for unwillingness to concede to courtings of the rich pagan in Sirakuzakh. It is amusing, however, that the Swede often on motive Neapolitan “Santa - Lyuchiya“, narrating in the original at all not about sufferings of the pious maiden, and about beauty of the Bay of Naples sings about all this. Still young ladies - “Lucia“ treat parents with a breakfast - morning coffee and special rolls “lussekatt“ - it is natural, own production. Form they remind the eight (or even an infinity sign), bake them with a saffron, the most expensive spice in the world which paints dough in gently - golden color so and here it is simple to see communication with the Sun. However, considering two highlights similar to pupils, in the center of each of curls, it is possible to assume that earlier they symbolized also eyes the Saint which that, according to the legend, pulled out at herself and sent to the admirer eulogizing their beauty (however, in exchange it was immediately granted from above finer eyes).

On the homeland of Lucia - Lyuchiya, in Italy, she is celebrated absolutely differently (and more in the north, than in the south though she lived in Sicily, in Sirakuzakh and the praprapraprapra has still a reputation... Archimedes`s granddaughter). It is considered that on the eve of the holiday sacred goes round all nurseries on a burro to throw to the sleeping boys and girls sweet gifts or black coals how they behaved all year. Kids of Lombardy and Piedmont before it usually suit something in the manner of our Christmas carols and leave for a burro a special feeding trough with bread and water. The most active manage even to get a little Sena. In Milan and some nearby cities this day also eat the soft cakes, meringues which are partially covered with chocolate glaze (possibly, too an ancient hint to Lyuchiya`s eyes).

on December 25. Christmas

Directly Christmas traditions of pastries in Europe are so various

that it is necessary to stop only on several most interesting - in Germany, Italy and France. Let`s take, for example, sweet cake of “adits“, whose oval form covered with snow-white icing sugar as it is considered, sends to the swaddled baby Christ. He is famous already more than six centuries and even became an occasion of brisk correspondence of several Electors Saxon with Popes once. The matter is that for its preparation many used butter that contradicted rules of the Nativity Fast. The church demanded transition on rape, but there was an obvious loss in taste of a product. Agreed that Germans will “smooth down“ the sin special donations in favor of church. As a result the part of a present Fraybergsky cathedral was built on these “voluntarily - compulsory“ assignments.

Classical Christmas “adits“ it is from the heart of Saxony, from Dresden. It is baked with candied fruits, dried fruits and spices and maintained at least several days till Christmas, but there are also many other variations of the “adits“ popular in all Germany and beyond its limits: with poppy, cottage cheese, marzipan and other stuffings...

In Italy all got used to the kulichupanettena (initially it is from Milan), however in some of her areas there are also other confectionery preferences. Marzipan pie - the torchilyena from Umbria which is baked in the form of the snake who curled up a ring is especially interesting (eyes and the doubled language do of candied fruits). Many consider that it is the stylized image of an eel from Trasimeno Lake, a main course of local traditionally fast dinner in Christmas Eve. However in the town of Deruta well-known for the painted ceramics claim that serpentine to the torchilyena - reflection of recurrence of time - Raphael thought up personally; also, actually, as well as well-known derutsky ornament of “rafaeleska“: bearded men with naked torsos which pass into the intertwining snake tails.

From an easy hand of the Parisian confectioners of the 19th century national Christmas cake in France. However idea of a log is much more ancient and goes back to Yul - so in the German pagan tradition the period of a winter solstice was called. In pre-Christian times it was accepted to leave one semi-burned log from the festive center the next year, and then to it allowed to burn down completely and chose new: all this had to bring to owners of the center good luck for the whole year. By the way, ritual partially remained also after a hristianization so the log burning in the center of 12 nights from December 25 to January 6 can be met even in villages of the 21st century.

on January 6. Epiphany, or Epiphanius

At last, the well-known twelfth night counted from 25 - go, - the eve of the Epiphany, or a holiday of Adoration of the magi which began to be celebrated in the most early time of Christianity. In orthodox tradition the Epiphany holiday coordinated on sense with the Epiphany more and more, losing initial touch with Christmas events. In Catholicism this holiday corresponded to the evangelical events which followed directly after Christmas - that is to arrival of magicians. Bible story about The Gift of the Magi brought to that, as this day in Europe it is accepted to exchange gifts.

In France one more tradition is: in festive sweet pie “kings - magicians“, that is magicians (in French - “ship`s biscuits - - Rwa“ is especially popular option from puff pastry with almond cream), bake a small porcelain figure. The one to whom it will get in a piece becomes the clownish king of festive evening, and then there comes “payment“ - it should spend for the following such pie for all company. And here it is possible to see a parallel with a pagan holiday: during the Roman December Saturnalia also elected the tsar. Only there the real beans were used, and in France figures are called as beans. During a season they can be bought in good candy stores where sell the whole thematic collections, every year new:“ bakery“, “kittens“, “circus“. By the way, among French there are also circles of collectors for a long time - fabofil (from Latin fabo - “bean“).

the tradition of Bogoyavlensky celebrations is connected by

In Italy with one linguistic misunderstanding. Once in local language the scientific Ancient Greek word of “Epiphanius“ (actually “Epiphany“) was mysterious and frightening aurally “Befan“. Further there was an amusing replacement - instead of magicians to the Italian children with gifts the witch - Befana comes now. It only should leave by all means the coffee maker as usually, having spread out gifts, she has a rest behind a coffee cup which since morning happy children will be able to wash. And they, probably, will be happy though by tradition except sweets and other trifles at the witch as Saint Lyuchiya, has also a bag with coal; but it seldom uses it.

In Tuscany in honor of Befana are baked by special sand cookies - befanin in the form of hearts, stars and to that similar, decorated with multi-colored sugar or nutelly. In several days when the last of them are eaten up, the marathon of the European Christmas pastries and series of Christmas festivals will come to the end. Unless at Scandinavians still remains on January 13 - Day of Saint Cnut when it is necessary to sort and take out a fir-tree. And the laziest take off jewelry for the Candlemas, on February 2. It is the last gala day kalendarno connected merry Christmas (introduction of the baby Christ to the Temple and Maria`s clarification after the delivery). In the west of it note as day of blessing of candles - in French “shandelyor“, in English “kendlmas“. Many Europeans will light candles at windows and will bake pancakes - small solar symbols.


on sretensky weather traditionally draw conclusions about that, or warm the whole forthcoming year will be cold. In the USA and Canada this tradition gradually led to emergence of the Groundhog Day, but it already another story altogether.