Quaint Christmas Customs

We are so accustomed to the ritual of the Christmas tree, which Prince Albert the Prince Consort brought to Britain from Germany, that we tend to be ignorant of the variants of this in some other parts of the world.

We are reminded of this, however, by recent Christmas stamps from two countries in eastern Europe. Lithuania’s pair, released on 10 November, illustrate the ancient ritual on Christmas Eve called Kucios, where an elaborate feast is prepared for the souls of the dear departed. The 1.70Lt stamp shows the special table put outdoors for the dead to take their fill. It is accompanied by the 1Lt stamp showing a Lithuanian version of the Christmas tree, which appears to be a haystack decorated with tree branches and topped off by an ornament, like the fairy on western Christmas trees.

At first glance, one of the Christmas stamps issued by Slovenia on 16 November appears to show a Faberge Easter Egg, but on closer examination it turns out to be a wishing tree, covered in some white material, then bound with concentric red ribbons and decorated with horseshoes for luck, hearts for love and balls for joy, topped off by a bright golden star.

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