Celebrating the Holidays Across the Globe

At Eldorado Gold, we are proud to recognize the ways we are alike, and celebrate the things that make us different. To mark the holiday season, sites contributed to this blog post on how they spend the holidays.

Christmas tree in Arnaia, North East Halkidiki

Halkidiki, Greece

Christmas holiday is widely celebrated in Greece. Beyond some European and North American influences, Christmas holidays in Greece include some unique customs and traditions.

In Greece, Santa Claus is not Saint Nicholas, but Saint Vasileios, and he does not visit the Greek houses on

December 24, he arrives a week later, on New Year’s Day, when we traditionally exchange Christmas presents.

Vasilopita, the cake we share on the first day of the year is closely related to the Saint. According to legend, the tradition comes from his life, when an emperor implemented a large tax during a time of great famine. People gave away their jewelry to pay, but the Saint called the emperor to repent and he did.

The emperor gave all the jewelry back but no one knew what belonged to whom, so Vasileios decided to bake the jewelry into bread and cut pieces for his people. Miraculously everyone received their own belonging in their piece of bread.

The beautiful, picturesque villages of North East Halkidiki, where we operate, are decorated with lights while a big Christmas tree adorns the central square of each village.

Another local tradition is the making and sharing of honeyed Christmas bread in Arnaia, a town in Halkidiki. On Christmas Eve, all the residents of Arnaia come together in the Central Square to revive the traditional Greek custom of Christopsomo, the signing of psalms, carols, and traditional Christmas songs. Christopsomo – the bread offered in honor of the birth of Jesus Christ – is prepared early in the morning. Then, late in the afternoon, it is transferred to the central square and shared with the community, with walnuts and honey, accompanied with wishes for a Merry Christmas, health, prosperity and peace to everyone.

Honeyed Christmas bread enjoyed during Christopsomo

Brazil

Over the holidays in Brazil we celebrate Christmas and the New Year. For us, Christmas is a catholic religious celebration where the focus is on family. New Year’s eve is spent celebrating and wishing everyone a prosperous New Year.

Traditionally, Brazilian families celebrate with family on the night of December 24 to celebrate Christmas. Families gather to enjoy dinner together, and finish the evening with the exchange of gifts.

On Christmas Day, families gather again, and children receive gifts from Santa Claus, who they have written letters to. We enjoy a big lunch, eating left overs from the feast the night before.

The main dish we enjoy for our Christmas meal is turkey, however, farofa, which is a tapioca flour dish, traditionally made with garlic, bacon, parma ham, and apricots during the holidays is a favorite.

To celebrate the New Year, we usually spend it with family and friends. We always have lentils and champagne at New Year’s dinner, lentils to attract luck, and champagne to pop at midnight and toast the new year with wishes of health, peace, joy and love.

We typically like to wear white clothes to attract good vibes. The evening is always full of lots of food, drink, dancing, and of course, the fireworks display at midnight.

Netherlands

Steam boat carrying gifts for children.

Traditionally the Dutch celebrate the feast of Sinterklaas. These celebrations start in mid-November with the arrival of steam ships that travel from Spain to the Netherlands. The celebrations last until December 5, which is Sinterklaas’ birthday.

For children, Sinterklaas  means eating a lot of pepernoten, traditional Dutch spiced biscuits, chocolate, speculaas, another traditional Dutch biscuit and other sweets, as well as receiving presents, all wrapped in unique paper, and accompanied by a poem which gives clues as to what the gift may be.

There are not many other national Christmas traditions, each region has their own and each family creates their own. Some people give each other presents, others have only big family dinners on the 25th and 26th.

Firework display in Amsterdam

Finally there is NewYear’s Eve….tradition is to eat oliebollen, deep fried dough with raisins in it sprinkled with powder sugar, and to indulge in a massive fireworks extravaganza at midnight, lasting for one or sometimes up to two hours!

 

Quebec, Canada

In Quebec, we particularly love the Christmas season.  This time of the year gives us the opportunity to spend precious time with our family.  The weather is generally favorable to family activities such as playing outside, ice skating, building snow forts, and snowshoeing. Christmas dinner is usually turkey (of course!), meat pie, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and our fabulous Grandma’s meatball stew.

Véronique Giroux with her family during the Family Christmas Brunch organized by the Recreational Committee.

In our region, New Year’s Eve is celebrated as well as Christmas.  Kids have a long school break and parents tend to be with them as much as possible to enjoy holidays and family time.We use Christmas time as a way to celebrate with our community as well.

Santa Claus parade in Val-d’Or.

This year, Eldorado Gold Lamaque had a special float with mining equipment and people from the Eldorado Community Squad in the annual Santa Claus parade that travelled through the main part of the city of Val-d’Or.

 

 

 

Vancouver, Canada

Happy Holidays! This is the usual holiday greeting in Vancouver, rather than Merry Christmas. We say Happy Holidays as a way to recognize and be more inclusive of the different cultures that make up Vancouver’s population. There are many different traditions celebrated across cultures, and definitely a number of fun activities enjoyed by all.

76-foot tree in Robson Square.

The city is lit up with beautiful lights lining homes and shop windows. A 76-foot tree, taller than the famous Rockefeller tree in New York, is lit up in Robson Square, in the middle of downtown, setting the scene for a beautiful holiday season.

For those who celebrate Christmas, children generally leave milk and cookies out for Santa on Christmas Eve, in hope that he will visit during the night. Christmas day often starts with opening stockings, which are filled with small trinkets left by Santa. Following breakfast, which can be easily prepared food like croissants and fruit, the gift exchange continues. The main meal is usually a late lunch together with family. The meal is traditionally turkey or ham, with all the delicious fixings – cranberry sauce, gravy, mashed potatoes, and of course, a favorite – stuffing!