< SWITCH ME >

Friday, 12 December 2014 00:00

A merry, wacky European Christmas

befana
Photo: Bas Ernst; Licence:  CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
 
Every January in Italy, an old woman, very similar to a witch, delivers gifts to children (or coal, depending on whether they have behaved well or not during the previous year)

 

With the Christmas celebrations coming up soon, it's the right time to learn more about traditions that sometimes overlap but can also differ from country to country. Taking advantage of the fact that she's lived in different European cities, Nicoletta Enria uncovers the origins and current life of lesser-known European Christmas traditions featuring, among others, a witch and tasty desserts. Stay tuned on E&M to read more about Christmas traditions in Europe.

 

Advent has begun and with it the countdown to the most awaited holiday of the year. Christmas decorations appear as if from thin air, the temperature halves and overall the atmosphere seems to be one of blissful joy, no matter what. There is nothing like wondering through a Christmas market or merely observing Christmas decorations and feeling that inexplicable explosion of excitement. Originally, Christmas was solely the celebration of the birth of Christ but, interesting enough, in Arabic the word for birthday and Christmas are the same. Due to its origin, Christmas is mainly celebrated in Christian countries, however it has seeped its way into the atheist homes with each European country, region and household developing its own unique traditions.

Published in Beyond Europe

With individual selections from our editors, Good Reads provides a regular run-down of best and most thought-provoking European journalism available online. This week, Diána Vonnák shares some intriguing thoughts on illegal immigration to the EU, fashion and the public role of intellectuals.

Diána, Managing editor

1dianav

Fortress Europe

Lampedusa did not change EU policies regarding asylum seekers and refugees and neither have similar subsequent, almost daily tragedies. Foreign policy has been a consistently hot topic for months, yet Syria, IS and the troubles in West Africa have clouded our public awareness of the unquestionable need of thousands to get out of miseries beyond imagination.

We had a Lampedusa-related pick from Veronica in the last edition of Good Reads, but I could not resist starting my list with another take on Fortress Europe. There are two aspects of this recent Spiegel Online article that make it stand out from the majority of similar advocacy pieces: its insights into the work of Frontex (the organisation that patrols EU borders) and the geographical scope, including the Hungarian-Serbian frontier and the border between Greece and Turkey.

Published in Good Reads
NEXT ISSUE
IN -860 DAYS