I have to confess that I know very little about the Christmas and Yuletide traditions of the European Islands (shame on me!). So I was really pleased when in response to my request for winter and Christmas pictures from ESIN members, Lise Sørensen, Head of Sekretariat of the Association of Danish Small Islands sent me on some information on the traditions of the Danish Christmas season. She writes:
One of our island Christmas goblins – ‘Strynøs julenisser’ : They sit on the bench and greet the visitors coming to the island during Christmas.
Three from Omø: they have a very old tradition that marks the end of Christmas on January 6.th called ‘helligtrekongersløb.’ For the Feast of the Three Holy Kings people on Omø dress up – beyond recognition – and go visit the other islanders. Those who prefer not dress up stay at home and let the outside lights burn to show that people are welcome in. Once inside you have to guess who the visitors are. You are allowed as many guesses as you wish – the visitors may not speak, only make gestures. The visitors stay, until their identities have been revealed, meanwhile enjoying candy and maybe a dram (a drink) and the wishing everyone a happy new year.
This is very similar to the Irish festival of Samhain (Sow-an), celebrated for at least a thousand years. As part of Samhain, of which Halloween is a part, people disguise themselves completely, head to foot – even wearing different shoes!) and not speaking – ordering drinks at the bar using gestures.
I find this similarity striking and have to wonder about other traditions we European Islanders hold in common. Please feel free to comment on any traditions or contact me so I might add cultural similarities to the blog.
A very fruitful, happy and healthy 2020 to you all!