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02 Jan. 2024

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St. Sylvester's Day: traditions in different countries of the world

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St. Sylvester's Day: traditions in different countries of the world

January 2 is the day of remembrance of Pope Sylvester I, who, according to legend, was responsible for the conversion of Emperor Constantine. It was this event that changed the course of human history. In particular, St. Sylvester's Day is celebrated in Belgium, Germany, France, Switzerland and other countries. Learn more about the unusual traditions of the holiday

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Saint Sylvester or Sylvester Day is celebrated by Eastern Christians on January 2. It is connected with the anniversary of the death of the saint who served as Pope from 314 to 335.

We talk about the meaning of the holiday and the main traditions in different countries of the world below.


Who is Saint Sylvester?


Sylvester lived at the turn of the III-IV centuries. He was born in Rome, in a Christian family. When he came of age, he gave shelter to itinerant preachers. During the persecution of Christians, Saint Sylvester hid in his home Bishop Timothy, who, despite the repressions, continued his missionary activity and spread Christianity. For this, Sylvester was arrested and tortured to force him to renounce his faith. However, the future Pope withstood all the abuse. The persecution stopped after the death of the ruler, and all the imprisoned Christians were released.

Also, it was Sylvester who convinced Emperor Constantine to finally accept Christianity and baptism.

When Sylvester turned 30, he became a priest, and 15 years later he was elected bishop of Rome. Pope Sylvester ruled the Roman Church for more than 20 years. During the reign of Pope Sylvester I, several magnificent Christian churches were built in Rome: the Basilica of St. John Lateran, the Church of Santa Croce, and the old Basilica of St. Peter. The Nicene Creed was also formulated, which is read by communicants of the vast majority of Christian denominations in the world.


When and how is Sylvester Day celebrated?


Western Christians celebrate St. Sylvester's Day on December 31, a date that since the adoption of the Gregorian calendar coincides with New Year's Eve. For these Christian denominations, Sylvester day falls on the seventh day of Christmas. Eastern churches celebrate Sylvester on a different day than Western churches, which is January 2.

Usually on this day, people go to church for the service, which is often held around midnight. It is also customary to set off fireworks, hold parties and banquets.




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Traditions on the Day of Remembrance of St. Sylvester in different countries of the world


● Ukraine

For a long time, the Ukrainian people have called the New Year's Day or Chicken Day because they believe that the priest was the patron saint of poultry. That is why on this day our ancestors cleaned the chicken coop, repaired perches and feeders - in this way, poultry were protected from uncleanliness and death.

Signs and traditions on New Year's Eve in Ukraine:

- People say that on New Year's Day the frosts get stronger and the winter becomes more severe.

- Also on this day it is customary to predict the weather and the future harvest: frost on this day - the summer will be hot, frost lies on the trees - to a good harvest, titmice began to sing - to prolonged frosts.

- According to omens, you should not cut your hair on Sylvester's Day, because it will not grow well.

- You should not eat chicken and eggs - it is believed that then happiness can fly out of the house.

- Treats in the form of roosters were baked for the children, clay toy roosters were given.


● Austria

In the Austrian capital, Vienna, people walk pigs on a leash to celebrate St. Sylvester's Day in hopes of good luck in the coming year.


● Germany

German families perform a ritual - lead is melted over a flame in an old spoon and lowered into a bowl of cold water. Fate for the next year is determined by the shape of the lead. If the lead forms a ball, luck will roll, and the star shape means happiness.


● Belgium

There is a tradition among Christians in Belgium that a girl who does not finish her work by sunset on St. Sylvester's Day will not be married the following year.


● Brazil

The Saint Silvester Road Race, Brazil's oldest and most prestigious running event, takes place on Saint Sylvester's Day. Fireworks are also set off on this day.


● Italy

On St. Sylvester's Day, Italians eat lentils and slices of sausage because they look like coins and symbolize luck and wealth in the coming year.


● Switzerland

Children compete with each other to see who will wake up the fastest - the child who gets up last is playfully mocked. Also, for centuries, men disguised themselves as Sylvesterklaus on St. Sylvester's Day.


Saint Sylvester is prayed for strengthening faith, asking for further life and peace on earth. This day is good to spend in the circle of the family. You should not quarrel with relatives and friends, condemn someone, slander, abuse alcoholic beverages and do cleaning.


Celebrating winter holidays abroad? Don't forget to ensure your safety! On our website you can buy travel insuranceGreen Card insurance policy for your car, as well as bus, train and plane tickets to/from Ukraine and between cities around the world.

We remind you! Winter and winter holidays are always associated with spending time with family. In Europe, Christmas and New Year are among the main holidays that citizens spend at home. Therefore, most retail outlets are not open on these days. Here you can find out what days are on holidays in shops and supermarkets in Europe this winter season.



Want to know more? Read the latest news and useful materials about Ukraine and the world in the News section.




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