In the evening On December 5th children put their clean boots by the front door of the house (inside or outside). A plate of bread is put out for Santa's white horse. In the morning the children find nuts, oranges, apples, chocolates and small gifts. But if you were not good the whole year you might only get a switch (stick).
It was St. Francis of Assisi who first had the idea of setting up the manger scene. The first manger scene was with real animals and people. The idea spread quickly and miniature manger scenes were created.
Children receive presents from "Befana", a good old witch who comes to their homes .
The legend says that La Befana said no to the Wise Men when they asked her to join them on their journey.
Later, she set out looking for Jesus but she never found him. She leaves gifts
for children instead.
On December 13th Saint Lucia Day is celebrated in Sweden. A girl dressed in white, with candles on her head, comes in a carriage pulled by a small horse. She is followed by Santa Claus on a horse and children in white gowns with candles. They sing Christmas songs. Then everyone eats ginger cookies and bread with saffron.
On the 6th of December St. Nicholas delivers treats to the good children and switches to the bad one. Children leave their shoes out. They also leave hay and water for St. Nicholas's horse or donkey.
Three good men dress up as the Magi and go to homes, singing songs .
On Christmas Eve people parade through the town, picking up more people as they walk along, until they reach the church where the Midnight Mass is celebrated.
In Ukraine, Christmas Eve is the most important part of the Christmas celebrations. The evening meal called the "Holy Supper" consists of twelve dishes (twelve apostles shared the last supper with Jesus). Foods that contain meat or dairy products are not eaten . It was a custom to place hay under the tablecloth as a reminder that the Child Jesus was born in a manger. The meal consists of fish, mushrooms, cabbage rolls, borscht (soup) and Kutya (honey, wheat and poppy seed mixture ).
In Poland, Christmas is full of tradition . The Christmas Eve supper consists of twelve meatless dishes - fish, soup, perogies, sauerkraut, polish dumplings, etc. It is said that animals are given the power of speech, and the future can be predicted.
Christmas around the world