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From The Gleaner’s Archives: special holiday edition 2020

Archives from The Gleaner, Wednesday, December 21, 1960

Tongue-Twisting ways to say Merry Christmas

Genogelyke Kerstyd! No, it’s not the 1960 version of etaoin shrdlu*, it’s simply the Dutch way of saying Merry Christmas! Christmas is now the most celebrated holiday in the world, and everyone from the Chinese to the Czechoslovaks have their word of greeting for it. Here are a few to twist your tongue on:

Afrikaans – Geseënde Kersfees
Chinese – Shèngdàn jié kuàilè
Czech – Veselé Vánoce
Danish – Glædelig Jul
Finnish – Hauskaa Jouloa
Flemish – Zaligen Hoogdag
French – Joyeux Noël
German – Fröhliche Weihnachten
Greek – Kalá Christoúgenna
Hawaiian – Mele Kalikimaka
Hungarian – Boldog Karácsonyt
Irish – Nollaig Shona
Italian – Buon Natale
Japanese – Merīkurisumasu
Lithuanian – Linksmų Kalėdų
Polish – Wesołych Świąt
Portuguese – Feliz Natal
Serbian – Srećan Božić
Spanish – Feliz Navidad
Russian – Srozhdestvom Khristovym
Swedish – God Jul
Tagalog – Maligayang Pasko
Welsh – Nadolig Llawen

*2020 footnote: According to a rather surprisingly long entry in Wikipedia, etaoin shrdlu is “a nonsense phrase that sometimes appeared in print accidentally in the days of ‘hot type’ publishing because of a custom of type-casting machine operators to fill out and discard lines of type when an error was made.
“It appeared often enough to become part of newspaper lore … [and entered popular culture as well]. It is the approximate order of frequency of the 12 most commonly used letters in the English language.”

Candle in the Window — Old Customs from around the world

It is an old Irish custom to place a candle in the windows on Christmas eve to light the Christ-child on his way, and the use of a candle appears in many different ways. In Armenia myriads of candles are used.
In Norway, families arrive at church on Christmas eve in sleds, each carrying a flaming torch. These are stuck upright in the snow while the good-folk attend services, bathing the outside of the church in a warm glow of light.
In Czechoslovakia tiny candles are set upright in nutshells and floated in pans of water. This Czech custom is one that you can easily adapt for a unique table centrepiece.
Select one of your prettiest shallow bowls. Cut a piece of cardboard to fit the bottom, make a ribbon ruffle around the edge of this cardboard [and] attach it with scotch tape. Place a water-filled bowl on this ruffled plate and set the candles floating in their little nutshell boats.
Darken the room and light the candles just before each child receives a little lighted candle standing in a turnip, which is to be eaten later by the youngster.

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