Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Morning Star, December 22, 2019, pg. 4
A very Merry Christmas to my readers of this column! Back in 1955, the Albion Malleable Iron Company published an article in its December issue of the company Circle-A-Tor magazine entitled "No Matter How You Say it, it Still Means Merry Christmas." The article featured eight of its immigrant workers explaining Christmas customs from various parts of the world. Let's enjoy that article together, along with the photos of those featured:
Mr. John Kita
"Wesolych Swiat." John Kita, now retired from AMICO is Polish-born, and remembers the pageants and Wigilja or Vigil dinners of the Christmas season. Frank Chehowski and his wife filled us in on the details of the Vigil dinner, when nine kinds of food, but no meat, were served on Christmas Eve as the high point of the Christmas celebration. The pageant took place on the "King's day" on the last or 12th day of Christmas, January 6."
Mr. Andy Blomquist
"God Yul." Andy Blomquist came to the United States in 1912, so his memories of Swedish Christmases are from his childhood. Andy told us that Yul Tumti visits each house on Christmas Eve, filling the stockings Swedish children leave fastened to the Christmas tree. Although he's supposed to come down the chimney, Andy reports never seeing him. Lutheran church services were always held at 5 a.m. Christmas morning in Sweden, with the gift exchange and Christmas dinner following.
Mr. Kurt Hanke
"Frohe Wheinachten." Kurt Hanke has been in American only two years, so remembers Christmas in his native Germany very well. He told us that the religious significance of Christmas is still predominant in Germany. "The Christmas Man'' visits each house on Christmas Eve with gifts for the children, and gifts are exchanged then, instead of Christmas morning. The tree in Germany is decorated with candy and chocolate and small gifts, which are taken by the children Christmas Eve.
Mr. Paul Sawchuk
"S Rozhdestv'om Hrist'ovim." Paul Sawchuk sent us to see Father A. Diachenko [Note: priest of the local Holy Ascension Orthodox Church in Albion] for the story on Christmas in Russia. He told us of the three-day celebration. The Greek Orthodox Church is the guiding force behind the Christmas ceremonies in Russia, holding services on all three days, the 23rd, 24th, and 25th of December. Actually, the church observes the Julian calendar, and Christmas to it falls on January 7th.
Mr. James Bommarito
"Bono Natale." Jim Bommarito remembers lean Christmases in Italy before his family came to the United States, but also remembers the traditional Christmas delicacies, homemade Italian sausages and special fruit pastries. For generations, Jim's family has made these things for Christmas dinner. Jim himself now is making about 70 pounds of sausage for his far-flung family.
Mr. Vincas Simaskevicius
"Linksnu Svantu Kiledu." Vincas Simaskevicius tells that the Lithuanian Christmas is very similar to ours, and almost exactly like that of Germany. All Liths are Roman Catholics, he reports, and attend Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. Santa Claus, or Kiledu Senis makes his rounds on Christmas Eve, filling the stockings of the children with gifts.
Mr. Louis Vafiades
"Kala Kristuyenna." Louie Vafiades also came to the United States as a small boy. He did however find old and new Christmases in Greece very different. In the olden days there were no trees or gifts. Instead there were 40 days of fasting, then caroling and family dinners at Christmas. There is still a three-day Christmas season, but "Noel" brings gifts to the children, and Christmas trees are the rule.
Mr. Porfeirio Ramos
"Felis Navidad." Porfeirio Ramos explained Mexican Christmas customs to us. He told us that in Mexico, Christmas is a celebration, with native dances, feasting, and costumes. The fire department of each city (a modern custom) distributes a sack of oranges, candy and cookies to the children, and families gather for the traditional roast pig dinner."
A very Merry Christmas to all my readers of this column.
All text copyright, 2021 © all rights reserved Frank Passic