Here in the UK Christmas has almost lost it's way. Everyone's focus is on buying that perfect present & Halloween hasn't even begun before they start bombarding us with the Christmas adverts & buying pressure. What happened to spending time with family, making some special food & more importantly making those memories that money just can't buy?
Christmas is celebrated all over the world - let's have a look at how it's celebrated in other countries.....
This French speaking tropical paradise island is very warm at Christmas - but even still they like to decorate with robins, holly & even an occasional bit of fake snow - even though none of them exist in Madagascar!
'Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year' in Malagasy is 'Mirary Krismasy sambatra sy Taona vaovao tonga lafatra ho anao'
Families exchange small gifts & have a special dinner usually of chicken or pork with rice at home followed by a special cake! Dressing up in nice clothes is all part of it & poinsettias (the national emblem of Madagascar) grow as large shrubs.....but unfortunately don't flower at Christmas!
Fancy trying a traditional recipe? This is one of our favourites & so easy!
Chicken With Garlic & Ginger
Ingredients: (serves five to six)
One chicken cut into pieces (remove the skin if you prefer) 2-inch / 6cm piece fresh ginger root peeled and grated or crushed 6 cloves garlic, finely minced or crushed
1. Rub the ginger and garlic into the chicken. Sprinkle the chicken with a little salt.
2. Place a small amount of oil in a large frying pan and gently cook chicken on low heat until done, about 40 minutes.
3. Test to make sure chicken is thoroughly cooked.
4. Serve with cooked rice, which is a staple food in Madagascar.
Greece is a maritime country so the Greeks traditionally decorate boats for Christmas. This custom survives today in seaside towns and islands, where people decorate Christmas boats in the central squares.
The Christmas tree is a foreign custom for Greece and it was brought by Otto, the first king of the country, who was of Bavarian origin. Over the years, the Christmas tree was integrated into the local culture and now the Greeks decorate fir trees in their homes and in squares of mountainous towns.
In Greek Happy/Merry Christmas is 'Kala Christougenna'
Christmas officially starts with most attending midnight mass, after which they return home & end their advent fast.
The main Christmas meal is often lamb or pork, roasted in an oven or over an open spit. It's often served with a spinach and cheese pie and various salads and vegetables.
Other Christmas and new year foods include 'Baklava' (a sweet pastry made of filo pastry filled with chopped nuts and sweetened with syrup or honey), Kataifi (a pastry made from a special form of shredded filo dough and flavoured with nuts and cinnamon), Theeples (a kind of fried pastry). The pastries are either eaten for breakfast or as starters.
Christmas is relatively new in Japan and has only been widely celebrated for the last few decades. It's still not seen as a religious holiday or celebration as there aren't many Christians in Japan. The USA has had a huge influence on traditions including presents, Christmas cards & Christmas trees!
In Japan, Christmas in known as more of a time to spread happiness rather than a religious celebration. Christmas Eve is often celebrated more than Christmas Day. Christmas Eve is thought of as a romantic day, in which couples spend together and exchange presents - it's similar to the UK's Valentine's Day. Young couples like to go for walks to look at the Christmas lights and have a romantic meal in a restaurant - booking a table on Christmas Eve can be very difficult as it's so popular!
Christmas day food is often fried chicken - you can blame KFC for that one with their 1974 advertising campaign 'Kentucky for Christmas!' (Kurisumasu ni wa kentakkii!)
The traditional Japanese Christmas food is Christmas cake, but it's not a rich fruit cake, but is usually a sponge cake decorated with strawberries and whipped cream. The 'shortcake' emoji [🍰] is Japanese Christmas cake!
Here's a quick & easy recipe to make your own delicious Japenese Christmas Cake!
First, you will need to make a sponge cake. If you want, you can simply buy one already made and skip this step.
Ingredients - Sponge Cake
60 g of sugar
2 tsp of milk
60 g of weak wheat flour (cake or biscuit flour)
10 g of melted butter
1: Grease a cake tin for the baking 2: Beat the eggs and the sugar in a preferably metal bowl until the sugar has melted 3: Add the milk. 4: Add about half of the flour and blend it in taking large strokes from the bottom of the bowl. Once the flour has been blended in gently to the point that you can't see it, add the other half in the same way. Then, add the melted butter. 5: Place in greased cake tin (around 18 cm) and cook at 200℃ (380°F) for 20 min. 6: After 20 min, check to see if it is cooked inside by inserting a fork in it and seeing if there is some half-cooked dough that sticks to it when you remove it. 7: Let it cool and cut it in half so that you get two circular pieces.
Whipped Cream and Strawberries
Next Steps are quite simple. You just need to make your whip cream and prepare your strawberries for decoration.
200ml of fresh cream (35%)
4 tbs of sugar
1: Whip the cream with the sugar until it has consistency that is firm enough for you to spread on the cake. 2: Cut about half of the strawberries in half and place them on the top surface of one of the cake, then cover with a thick layer of whipped cream. 3: Place the other half of the cake on top of the one you have just covered with whipped cream and strawberries, and then cover all surfaces of the cake.