BRINGING THE INSIDE OUT
Not content with only decorating the traditional Christmas tree, Europeans are now following in their American cousin's steps and decorating the entire house with lights, illuminated sleighs, snowmen, and Father Christmas dolls hanging out the windows! It can get a bit garish.
Since the late 19th Century, the poinsettia has joined holly, mistletoe and the red amaryllis as a traditional Christmas bloom. It is native to Central America and has become a Christmas mainstay due to it's deep red and green festive colours.
Its original association to Christmas heralds back to 16th Century Mexico where it is said that a poor girl wanted to provide a gift for Jesus on his birthday and could find nothing but weeds from the roadsides. These weeds blossomed into the poinsettia that we know today. There is also a link between the shape of the flower and the star of David, while the deep red represents the blood of Christ.
LIGHTS AND BANNERS
The streets come alive every Christmas thanks to commercial enterprise. Almost every town and city now emblazons their main shopping district with bright flashing lights. Watch out for sponsored lights in a town near you!
Christmas isn't Christmas without the mad rush for last-minute gifts. Although commercialisation is often quoted as being the main thing ruining the festive period, gift-giving on the 25th really does make the occasion.