The streets are ornamented with uncountable lights. Commercial centers are overcrowded by people carrying bags and offers for relatives and friends. Santa Clauses multiplied for everywhere, followed by Christmas sounds. The Christmas tree and the crèche are common at this time -- but you're mistaken if you think you know everything about them.
Many researches affirm that the modern Christmas tree was originated in Germany between 16th and 18th century. During 19th century the tradition was spread out through other European countries and arrived to USA. Latin America was introduced to her during the 20th century.
In our times, many families stand up their Christmas trees, and it doesn't matter their religious creed. Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox and also some North-American Jews who adopted the Chanukah bush (from a Jewish festivity close to Christmas).
It doesn't matter if they are real or artificial -- they are ornamented with any kinds of complements: colored balls and ribbons, lights, bells, angels, stars, boots, bonds, musical instruments, pines, and Santa Clauses.
In Eastern Europe, precisely in Ukraine, they also use another kind of ornament: a spider and its net. According to an ancient legend, a poor widow, who had no resources for decorating her tree, wakes up and finds her tree ornamented by a net. Her Christmas got colored and since then Ukrainians added an artificial spider and net like ornaments as a synonym of luck.
Downside the tree and close to it, the crèche is arranged. This reference to Christianism symbolizes Jesus' birth inside a Bethlehem grot. According to Bible, Joseph and Mary took a long time looking for a place to spend the night.
Tired of the journey made with no success and without a place to stay, they got sheltered in a grot at Bethlehem surroundings. Maria, in the end of her pregnancy, had Jesus, ho was put into a manger for animals. That's why the donkey and the cow take part on the crèche. They represent simplicity and modesty -- "Jesus wasn't born in palaces or luxury places, but among animals". Angels and shepherds, the star and the Magi complete the characters. The shepherds who were at that region were advised by angels of the happening. The Magi came from Orient, guided by the local star to that place.
But in Catalonia there's another figure included: the caganer. It's a character who defecates. It's usually a common man replica dressed in common clothes. There are now some celebrity caganer produced, like soccer players, actors, entertainers and also some presidents. By the position it occupies in the crèche, the population takes it as a good earth fertilizer and consequently it will bring a good crop.
If there are those who take spiders and caganers as luck amulets, there are also those who takes a rifle like this. The Norwegian tradition affirms the Christmas night attracts witches and bad spirits. That's why it's used that the men of the family go to the street and give some shots, as the sounds can keep the bad vibes away.
December 25 is celebrated by many people at home with their families, usually changing gifts. There are others who prefer the midnight mass. In Caracas, Venezuela, the mass happens in the morning. And the Venezuelans go to church by roller skates. During the anterior night the children put a shoelace at one foot's toe and put the roller skate near the window. Who passes there during the morning pulls it and wishes an uncommon Merry Christmas.
The Christmas tree and the crèche are used be sand until January 6th, The Magi Day.