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CHRISTMAS CUSTOM

AT CHRISTMAS TIME, MY GRANDFATHER WOULD
PUT STRING THROUGH-OUT THE HOUSE. I WOULD
FOLLOW THE STRING UNTIL I FOUND THE GIFT.

Where learned: UNIVERSITY OF DETROIT ; TOLD AT ; SOUTH QUAD

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 21 solstice to March 20 Gifts, gift giving at Christmas

Date learned: 10-23-1970

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FAMILY CUSTOM GIFT GIVING

THE MEMBERS OF THE FAMILY WOULD PICK NAMES OUT
OF A HAT AND BUY A CHRISTMAS PRESENT FOR THAT
INDIVIDUAL.

Submitter comment: CHILDHOOD

Where learned: LOCATION NOT RECORDED BY COLLECTOR

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 21 solstice to March 20 Gifts, gift giving at Christmas

Date learned: 11-00-1968

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GIFTS

IN MANITOBA CHIDREN WERE GIVEN SACK DRESSES,
PENCILS, NOTEBOOKS, AND SHIRTS BY THE TEACHER IN SCHOOL INSTEAD
OF THE PARENTS. AT CHRISTMAS THESE TEACHERS PERFORMED MOST
OF THE DUTIES GIVEN TO PARENTS IN AMERICA.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 21 solstice to March 20 Gifts, gift giving at Christmas

Date learned: 09-00-1971

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GIFTS

IN MANITOBA SCHOOL CHILDREN WERE GIVEN SACK DRESSES,
PENCILS, NOTEBOOKS, AND SHIRTS BY THE TEACHER AT CHRISTMAS TIME.
USUALLY THE TEACHER SUPPLIED THE GIFTS FROM HER OWN RESOURCES AND
FUNDS BUT SHE WAS OCCASIONALLY AIDED BY A WEALTHY PARENT WHO WOULD
SUPPLY MONEY FOR GIFTS FOR ALL THE KIDS. INDIVIDUAL POOR PARENTS
HARDLY PARTICIPATED IN THE GIFT GIVING.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 21 solstice to March 20 Gifts, gift giving at Christmas

Date learned: 09-00-1971

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CHRISTMAS CUSTOM

ON CHRISTMAS EVE WE HAVE OUR RELATIVES
OVER TO OPEN PRESENTS. IN PREPARATION FOR THIS
WE PUT ALL THE PRESENTS UNDER THE TREE AND
CLOSE THE DOORS LEADING TO THE LIVING ROOM.
THE RELATIVES ENTER BY THE BACK DOOR AND GATHER
IN THE KITCHEN FOR A DRINK AND SOME TALK. WHEN
EVERYONE IS READY WE LINE UP AT THE DOOR,
YOUNGEST FIRST, AND GO INTO THE LIVING ROOM TO
OPEN THE PRESENTS. THE YOUNGEST GETS TO OPEN
THE FIRST GIFT AND THEN THE NEXT YOUNGEST
AND SO ON UNTIL EVERYONE HAS OPENED ONE
OF THEIR GIFTS. THEN IT STARTS OVER AND
CONTINUES UNTIL ALL THE GIFTS ARE GONE.

Where learned: OHIO ; CINCINNATI

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 24 Christmas Eve
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 21 solstice to March 20 Gifts, gift giving at Christmas

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UKRAINIAN "SANTA CLAUS"

ON CHRISTMAS EVE, AN ANGEL COMES DOWN FROM HEAVEN, AND
BRINGS THE GIFTS AND THE CHRISTMAS TREE (COMPLETELY DECORATED).

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 21 solstice to March 20 Christmas tree
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 21 solstice to March 20 Gifts, gift giving at Christmas

Date learned: DATE NOT RECORDED BY COLLECTOR.

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CHRISTMAS GIFTS

ON CHRISTMAS EVE AT ABOUT TEN O'CLOCK ALL THE FAMILY GETS
TOGETHER AND OPENS THEIR GIFTS AROUND THE CHRISTMAS TREE.

Where learned: UNIVERSITY OF DETROIT

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 21 solstice to March 20 Christmas tree
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 21 solstice to March 20 Gifts, gift giving at Christmas

Date learned: 10-22-1968

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CHRISTMAS CUSTOM

IT IS AN ITALIAN CUSTOM TO OPEN CHRISTMAS
PRESENTS ON CHRISTMAS EVE AFTER DINNER INSTEAD
OF CHRISTMAS MORNING.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; SOUTHFIELD ; COLUMBIA REALTY OFFICE

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 24 Christmas Eve
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 21 solstice to March 20 Gifts, gift giving at Christmas

Date learned: 02-09-1971

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CHRISTMAS

A WEEK PRIOR TO CHRISTMAS, THE PARENTS IN THE GERMAN HOUSEHOLD
CURTAIN OFF A PORTION OF THE LIVING ROOM AND DURING THE WEEK
SET UP A MAGNIFICENT CHRISTMAS SCENE BEHIND THE CURTAIN. THERE
WAS A TREE DECORATED WITH HOMEMADE CONFECTIONS--NUTS, POPCORN,
CANDY--AND MANY GIFTS. EACH CHILD HAD A LARGE BOX CONTAINING
ALL HIS GIFTS. ON CHRISTMAS DAY THE CURTAIN WAS THRUST ASIDE,
THE KIDS ADMIRE IT ALL, AND THEN SLOWLY, ALTERNATELY, OPEN
ALL THE GIFTS ONE BY ONE.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 21 solstice to March 20 Christmas tree
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 21 solstice to March 20 Gifts, gift giving at Christmas

Date learned: 11-00-1969

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CHRISTMAS CELEBRATION IN LITHUANIA IS VERY ELABORATE. ON CHRISTMAS
EVE, THE TABLE IS SET WITH A WHITE TABLECLOTH, 12 KINDS OF PREPARED
FISH AND IN THE CENTER--A HANDFUL OF STRAW UNDER THE TABLECLOTH, AND
DIRECTLY ON THAT, "PLOTKELES". "PLOTKELES" IS SIMILAR TO COMMUNION,
ONLY SQUARE, A PIECE OF SIZEABLE SIZE (MOSTLY 6 BY 4 INCHES). IN
LITHUANIAN, IT IS CALLED "KRISTAUS LAISKAS"--CHRIST'S LETTER. IT IS
A LETTER ANNOUNCING HIS BIRTH AND THAT HE WILL SAVE US.
WHEN EVERYONE IS SEATED, THEY SAY A PRAYER AND THEN, THE FATHER TAKES
ONE OF THE "LETTERS", HANDS IT TO THE MOTHER WHO BREAKS OFF A PIECE,
THEN TO THE NEXT OLDEST, ETC...SO ON DOWN THE LINE. THEN THE MOTHER
LETS EVERYONE BREAK OFF A PIECE FROM HER PIECE AND SO ON...
AFTER THE PASSING AROUND OF THE LETTER, THE EATING STARTS. THIS IS
THE ONE TIME THAT WE ARE NOT ALLOWED, BY LITHUANIAN CUSTOM, TO EAT
MEAT. WE PREPARE FISH 12 DIFFERENT WAYS: SMOKED HERRING, PICKLED
HERRING, WHITE FISH, OR ANY OTHER KINDS OF FISH. FISH AND VEGETABLES,
AS MUCH AS WE WANT--FOR DURING THE DAY WE ARE NOT SUPPOSED
TO EAT ANYTHING AT ALL. THERE ARE TO BE 12 VARIATIONS OF EACH FOOD:
12 FISH, 12 VEGETABLES, 12 FRUIT, 12 CAKES.
AFTER THE FISH AND VEGETABLES, THEN STARTS THE FRUITS AND SWEETS.
MOST OF THE CAKES ARE HOME BAKED, THE FRUITS MADE INTO A PUNCH OR A
FRUIT-BOWL.
TO FINISH OFF THE MEAL, THERE ARE THE TRADITIONAL "SLIZIKAI"--TASTE
JUST LIKE BREAD STICKS, ONLY THEY'RE SMALL AND ROUND. YOU PUT THEM
IN SWEET MILK (IN AMERICA--DILUTED PET MILK) AND THAT IS HOW YOU EAT
THEM.
AFTER DINNER, THERE ARE THE PRESENTS OPENING AND AFTER THAT, TIME TO
GO TO CHURCH.
WHEN YOU FIRST WALK INTO THE CHURCH, EVERYTHING IS TOTALLY DARK.
BUT AT EXACTLY MIDNIGHT--ALL THE CANDLES ARE LIT, THE CHIMES AND BELLS
START RINGING, AND THE CONGREGATION BEGINS TO SING. THERE IS A
PROCESSION AROUND THE CHURCH 3 TIMES; THEN THE PROCESSION OF THE
PRIEST, ALTAR BOYS AND GIRLS (THROW FLOWER PETALS IN FRONT OF THE
PRIEST) STOP IN FRONT OF THE CHURCH'S CRIB AND BEGIN TO PRAY. HE
PRAYS FOR THE POPE, THE PRIESTS AND NUNS, FOR THE PEOPLE , AND FOR
THE LITHUANIAN NATION (IN AMERICA, SO THAT THEIR FREEDOM WILL BE
RESTORED) (IN LITHUANIA AT THE PRESENT, THEY ARE UNABLE TO CELEBRATE
IN CHURCH). THEN HE BLESSES THE CONGREGATION WITH HOLY WATER AND THE
MASS BEGINS.
CHRISTMAS DAY IS USUALLY THE VISITING DAY OF FRIENDS AND RELATIVES.
WHEN THE PEOPLE USED TO VISIT, THEY ALWAYS BROUGHT SOMETHING ALONG,
EITHER SOME CAKES, OR CANDY OR A BOTTLE OF WINE AND A LOAF OF BREAD.
IT WAS CONSIDERED A DISGRACE TO GO VISITING AND NOT BRING SOMETHING.
THE CELEBRATING USUALLY LASTED FOR 3 DAYS, BUT NOW--FOR ONLY 1 OR 2
DAYS.

Where learned: LOCATION NOT RECORDED

Keyword(s): ABSTINENCE FROM MEAT ; FOOD CUSTOM

Subject headings: 122 Christmas
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- F122
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 24 Christmas Eve F122.82
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 21 solstice to March 20 Lights and candles
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 21 solstice to March 20 Straw
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 21 solstice to March 20 Gifts, gift giving at Christmas
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 21 solstice to March 20 Church
BELIEF -- Sign Color P680.1

Date learned: 03-25-1972

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GERMAN CHRISTMAS CUSTOMS

CHRISTMAS IN GERMANY IS CELEBRATED ON TWO DAYS IN A SOMEWHAT
DIFFERENT FASHION FROM AMERICANS. ON DECEMBER 24TH THE FIRST PART OF
THE CHRISTMAS CELEBRATION TAKES PLACE. IT IS CELEBRATED ON THIS DAY
BECAUSE THIS IS THE DAY THAT CHRIST WAS BORN AND NOT REALLY ON THE
25TH. THEY DO NOT PUT A TREE UP WEEKS BEFORE CHRISTMAS. INSTEAD THE
TREE IS SET UP LATE ON THE 23RD AND THE ROOM IS LOCKED WITH TREE AND
PRESENTS INSIDE. THEN IN THE AFTERNOON THE CHILDREN SEE THE TREE
AND PRESENTS FOR THE FIRST TIME.

Submitter comment:

INFORMANT REMEMBERS THIS FROM HER HOMELAND, GERMANY

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT ; BEAUTY SHOP

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- F122
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 21 solstice to March 20 Christmas tree
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 21 solstice to March 20 Gifts, gift giving at Christmas

Date learned: NOT RECORDED BY THE COLLECTOR

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CHIVARI

ON CHRISTMAS EVE, A GROUP OF CHILDREN WOULD WALK FROM ONE FARM TO THE
OTHER AND COLLECT FOOD. THIS FOOD WAS LATER GIVEN TO THE POOR.

Submitter comment: MR. OULETTE AND HIS CHILDHOOD FRIENDS FOLLOWED THIS TRADITIONAL
PRACTICE.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; GROSSE POINTE PARK ; COLLECTORS HOME

Keyword(s): FOOD CUSTOM

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 24 Christmas Eve
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 21 solstice to March 20 Gifts, gift giving at Christmas

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THE TRADITIONAL CHRISTMAS EVE SUPPER (POLISH TRADITION)

A GROUP OF RELATIVES AND FRIENDS WOULD BE INVITED TO PARTAKE
OF SEVEN, NINE, OR ELEVEN MEATLESS FOODS (ALWAYS AN ODD NUMBER).
THE MEAL USUALLY CONSISTED OF SOUPS, DUMPLINGS, FISH, PICKLED
HERRING, BOILED POTATOES, SAUR KRAUT (SAUERKRAUT) WITH MUSHROOMS,
BOILED RICE, COOKED PRUNES. THE TABLE WAS COVERED WITH A
TABLECLOTH, WITH SOME STRAW UNDERNEATH, THERE PRESENTS FOR THE
CHILDREN WOULD BE HIDDEN. THE CHILDREN WERE NOT ALLOWED TO
LOOK FOR THEM UNTIL AFTER THE DINNER. AT THE MEAL EVERYONE WOULD
TAKE A PIECE OF ANGEL BREAD (WAFER) AND SHARE IT WITH OTHERS,
WISHING THEM GOOD HEALTH AND LUCK FOR THE COMING YEAR.

Submitter comment:

SOME PEOPLE STILL PRACTICE THIS CUSTOM TODAY.

Data entry tech comment:

Updated by TRD

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; RESIDENCE ; DETROIT

Keyword(s): ABSTINENCE FROM MEAT ; CHRISTMAS ; CUSTOM ; FOOD ; holiday ; LUCK ; Vegetarian

Subject headings: 122 Christmas
686 Seven / Sevenths / Several
686 Ninths / Nine
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 24 Christmas Eve Christmas
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 24 Christmas Eve F122.82
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 21 solstice to March 20 Gifts, gift giving at Christmas
BELIEF -- Number P686.1.11
BELIEF -- Number Odd number (not specific)

Date learned: NOT RECORDED

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CHRISTMAS AND NEW YEARS CUSTOMS, POLISH

THE TRADITIONAL POLISH CELEBRATION OF CHRISTMAS BEGINS BY OBSERVING
THE ADVENT SEASON, AWAITING THE FESTIVE CHRISTMAS. THIS IS
CULMINATED AT THE VIGILIA MEAL, SERVED ON CHRISTMAS EVE. THIS IS
THE TRANSITION BETWEEN ADVENT AND THE DAY ON WHICH POLES COMMEMERATE
CHRIST'S BIRTH. THE WORD VIGILIA MEANS WATCHING AND THIS IS IN
EFFECT WHAT THE PARTICIPANTS DO. THE MENU INCLUDES HERRING, WHICH IS
THE MAIN COURSE. THIS IS EATEN WITH MILK SYMBOLIZING A BITTER-SWEET
TIME OF REPENTANCE AND AWAITED JOY. UPON THE CONCLUSION OF THE MEAL
THE CHRISTMAS WAFER (OPLATEK) IS BROKEN FIRST BY THE HEAD OF THE
HOUSEHOLD AND DISTRIBUTED TO MEMBERS OF THE FAMILY, THE OLDEST
RECEIVING HIS PORTION FIRST. EACH FAMILY MEMBER IN TURN BREAKS THE
WAFER WITH ANOTHER WISHING PEACE AND GOOD WILL TO ONE ANOTHER. THE
WAFER SYMBOLIZES THE BLESSINGS OF CHRIST THAT ARE HOPED TO BE
BESTOWED DURING THE COMING YEAR. FOLLOWING THE MEAL A SZOPKA MAY BE
PRESENTED. THIS IS A PUPPET SHOW RE-ENACTING "THE NATIVITY" AND IS
SHOWN IN A SPECIALLY BUILT, RICHLY ORNATE, WOODEN STAGE. IN THIS
WAY THE CHILDREN OF THE POLISH FAMILY COME TO UNDERSTAND THE TRUE
MEANING OF CHRISTMAS.
NO MORE ACTIVITY TAKES PLACE IN THE HOME. ITS MEMBERS ASSUME A
SOMBER CONDITION OF MIND AND DEPART FOR THE MIDNIGHT MASS. THIS MASS
IS THE TRADITIONAL PASTERKA IN WHICH THE SOLEMN TONE OF THE SEASON IS
HIGHLIGHTED BY THE SINGING OF KOLENDY OR POLISH NATIONAL CHRISTMAS
CAROLS. FOLLOWING MASS THE FAMILY RETURNS HOME AND EXCHANGE GIFTS.
NEW YEAR'S EVE IS NOT CELEBRATED AS A FESTIVE EVENT, BUT THE FEAST OF
THE THREE KINGS SYMBOLIZES THE END OF THE POLISH CHRISTMAS SEASON.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT ; WAYNE STATE UNIVERSITY LOUNGE

Subject headings: 122 Christmas
645 645.2
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- January 1 New Year's
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- January 6 Twelfth Day Epiphany
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 24 Christmas Eve F122.82
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 21 solstice to March 20 Manger scenes
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 21 solstice to March 20 Gifts, gift giving at Christmas
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 21 solstice to March 20 Songs, caroling
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 21 solstice to March 20 Church

Date learned: 11-26-1970

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CHRISTMAS GIFTS

ON CHRISTMAS, THE ADULTS DO NOT EXCHANGE GIFTS: ONLY THE
CHILDREN RECEIVE GIFTS.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; UNIVERSITY OF DETROIT ; DETROIT ; UNION

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 25 Christmas Also see F642, below.
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 21 solstice to March 20 Gifts, gift giving at Christmas

Date learned: 10-24-1968

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ITALIAN CHRISTMAS LEGEND

IT IS BELIEVED IN ITALY THAT A POOR OLD WOMAN CALLED LABUFANA COMES
TO EACH HOUSE ON THE EPIPHANY AND GIVES THE GOOD PEOPLE FRUITS, NUTS
AND OTHER GIFTS AND TO THE BAD PEOPLE BURNT COAL. IN SOME SMALL
VILLAGES IN ITALY WOMEN DRESS UP AS LABUFANA AND DISTRIBUTE THE

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- January 6 Twelfth Day Epiphany
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 21 solstice to March 20 Gifts, gift giving at Christmas

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ADVENT SEASON TRADITION

IN ST. CHRISTOPHER CHURCH, THE CHRISTIAN SERVICE COMMISSION OF THE
PARISH PUTS UP A CHRISTMAS TREE IN THE CHURCH, DECORATED WITH TAGS
WITH THE SIZE, AGE AND SEX OF THE SHUT-IN PEOPLE IN THE PARISH,
WRITTEN ON THEM. THE PARISHIONERS CHOOSE ONE OF THE TAGS AND
PURCHASE A GIFT FOR THAT PERSON. THE PARISHIONER THEN
RETURNS THE GIFT AND TAG TO THE COMMISSION FOR DISTRIBUTION
BEFORE CHRISTMAS.

Where learned: DETROIT

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 21 solstice to March 20 Christmas tree
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 21 solstice to March 20 Gifts, gift giving at Christmas
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- September 23 equinox to December 20 Also used for Advent.

Date learned: 00-00-1975

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AT CHRISTMAS TIME, ALONG WITH A CHRISTMAS CARD, EACH FAMILY RECIEVES
A PAPER THIN WAFER CALLED " UPACKI" (OO PWUT KEY) IT REPRESENTS HOME
AND FAMILY TOGETHRENESS AT THE TIME OF CHRISTS BIRTH.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; HAWKS

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 21 solstice to March 20 Christmas Season See F645.2 for Advent Season.
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 21 solstice to March 20 Gifts, gift giving at Christmas
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 21 solstice to March 20 Greetings, wishes, prayers, cards

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