Trailer : http://vimeo.com/75875365
This collection explores all facets (history, sociology, culture, science, etc.) of the most popular of European celebrations.
The rites and traditions of Christmas have spread throughout the world like wildfire. Through the emigration of European peoples, old countries with the strongest Christmas cultures left their mark on new countries.
Germanic rites have thus been adopted by English speaking countries, while on a European scale, the Christmas traditions found in the Paris region are directly inherited from Alsatians who migrated to there in 1871.
Episode 1: Who is Father Christmas?
A unique character, international star, legendary figure, our good old Father Christmas is an enigma. Who is he exactly?
Father Christmas is represented in all countries, in all situations, and in all materials. On foot, in his sled, on skis, often merry, sometimes sad, and even angry…
From the story of the evil butcher Père Fouettard – the French equivalent of Black Peter – to that of Saint Nicholas, and his makeover by Coca-Cola, what is his real origin?
A team of anthropologists from the University of Manchester has recently developed a model of the face of Saint Nicholas from preserved skeletal remains. He was a man of about 60 years old, tall for the time (1.77 metres), with olive skin, dark eyes and a broken nose.
Other teams of scientists have used a mathematical approach to Father Christmas based on the notion that normally he does not deliver gifts to Muslim, Hindu, Jewish or Buddhist children (except in Japan); this reduces his workload on Christmas Eve to 15% of the total, or 378 million children. Given the different time zones and the Earth’s rotation, and under the hypothesis that he travels from East to West, Father Christmas has about 31 working hours at his disposal on Christmas Eve. So with 108 million homes to visit in 31 hours, this comes to 967 homes per second...
In short, Father Christmas is a world unto himself.
Episode 2: Christmas - a tradition
On the first day of December each year, children open the first little window of their Advent calendars, which on 24 December will reveal an illuminated nativity scene.
Because for many people, Christmas remains a major religious event. And for those who do not share this faith, the word Christmas represents a feeling of hope, a symbol of joy and peace. The finest celebration of the year is also highly popular. It has spread throughout the world as a celebration of families and children.
In Poland since 1937, every year, Krakow’s Grand Square becomes the stage for a unique gathering: the famous nativity scene competition. Competitors use every ounce of their daring and inventiveness to create the nativity scene that stands out from the rest. Some are almost 2 metres high.
Since the Middle Ages, Hungarians have mimed and acted out Christmas stories with human actors or puppets.
In Britain, the pantomime is a Christmas musical for children. It is a British tradition. Going to see a pantomime means getting together with your family in a theatre to see a play that everyone knows. It’s a ritual, a magical experience.
But what will these traditions be like in the future? At MIT in Boston, virtual simulations are being conducted in a bid to answer this question.
Episode 3: Christmas Lights
The Christmas celebration is the most luminous of events. Originating in the East, the United Kingdom and the United States, this fashion for lights is conquering the whole of Europe.
At McAdenville in North Carolina, 5000 lights illuminate the town’s 400 Christmas trees.
The town hall in Gengenbach in Alsace is a magical attraction during the Advent period. With its 24 windows, it is transformed into the world’s biggest Advent calendar.
In Copenhagen, a Danish man spent all his savings to make his parents’ home the best decorated house for Christmas, creating a landscape illuminated by 48,000 lights in the garden.
In Rosemont in Minnesota, the Fox family transforms their home into a Christmas Drive. Close to 5000 cars drive through their farm as eyes of all ages open wide at the sight of so many lights.
The very serious British Institute of Physics IOP has calculated that British homes decorated for 12 days consume 3.5 billion KWh of electricity and emit 1.6 million tonnes of CO2.
Episode 4: Christmas, gifts and feasts
From Helsinki to Naples, from London to Barcelona, the popular success of the Christmas market continues to grow. Looking for a change from electronic gadgetry, visitors of all ages come to enjoy the cosy, rustic atmosphere reminiscent of Christmases of another time.
The oldest is the Christmas Market in Strasbourg, which receives 2 million visitors.
Its predecessor, the Saint Nicholas market, existed as far back as the 14th Century.
The ritual of gift giving is a tradition that comes to us from the Romans! Around 24th December, they would exchange presents (honey and candles,) in honour of the goddess Strenia.
Honey cake dates back to the year 1500 BC. In Germany in the 13th Century, honey cake became gingerbread. It was not until the 18th Century that gingerbread was replaced by sugar.
The celebrations of Saint Nicholas and Christmas are thus accompanied by a cortège of special dishes and sweet goodies.
Every year, the renowned consulting firm Deloitte conducts a vast market research project in European countries, Russia, South Africa and the United States to study our dietary habits and expenditure during the Christmas season. The 8th edition of the study has confirmed that Europeans in general conserve the spirit of Christmas and its traditions despite the prevailing gloom. 88% of Europeans will decorate their homes this year and celebrate Christmas.
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