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Close Up Winter Holiday Traditions of Royal Families Around The World

Winter Holiday Traditions of Royal Families Around The World

Winter Holiday Traditions of Royal Families Around The World
By Franz Sorilla IV
By Franz Sorilla IV
December 12, 2019
As the British royals are preparing for their annual Christmas holiday at Sandringham estate, let us take a peek into what the other adored royal families are doing this season

1/12 House of Grimaldi

Christmas photo of the Monagesque Royal Family | Photo: Vanessa von Zitzewitz / Courtesy of Monaco Palace
Christmas photo of the Monagesque Royal Family | Photo: Vanessa von Zitzewitz / Courtesy of Monaco Palace

Prince Albert II and his wife, Princess Charlene, annually open the doors of the Prince's Palace of Monaco to children every Christmas. This tradition began with the late Princess of Monaco Grace Kelly (the current reigning monarch's much-loved mother) when she was then trying to gain the approval and support of the people of Monaco. Every Christmas, each child receives a unique gift from the Prince and Princess, together with a dressed-up Santa Claus. Last year, French magician champion, Triton, performed in the Throne Room and entertained the young guests. What surprise awaits guests this year?

2/12 The Liechtenstein Ladies

Prince Hans-Adam II and Countess Georgina von Wilczek | Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Prince Hans-Adam II and Countess Georgina von Wilczek | Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

As the Principality of Liechtenstein observes agnatic primogeniture for its monarchy, men in the ruling family have more responsibilities to attend to especially His Serene Highness Prince Hans-Adam II. Meanwhile, the ladies of Liechtenstein like Princess Marie and the Hereditary Princess Sophie can be seen visiting hospitals and retirement homes throughout the country before Christmas Day.

3/12 The Wangchuk Dynasty

His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, Dragon King of Bhutan | Photo: Gelay Jamtsho / Courtesy of Flickr
His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, Dragon King of Bhutan | Photo: Gelay Jamtsho / Courtesy of Flickr

Bhutan's National Day falls on the 17th of December and is respectfully observed every year where the Druk Gyalpo ("Dragon King") Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuk gives his nation's address and participates with the solemn ceremonies. Another festival that comes with the winter season is the country's winter solstice festival known as Nyilo. The Bhutanese people believe that errors of the past can be erased and the karmic consequences of doing good deeds can multiply with the Nyilo celebrations. It is considered a sacred day and is followed by Lolay, a celebratory practice where children play an important part. The King and Queen take part in these festivities by welcoming children to their home and letting them do the traditional singing of ancient verses in observance of the holiday's tradition.

4/12 House of Glücksburg, Norway

Norwegian royal family's official Christmas photo 2017 | Photo: PA
Norwegian royal family's official Christmas photo 2017 | Photo: PA

Christmas time is family time in Norway and the Norwegian's royal family celebrates this joyous season intimately. In previous years, King Harald V and Queen Sonja together with their children, spend Christmas Day on holiday trips, either with Prince Haakon or Princess Märtha Louise. Like other European royals, they also annually release their Christmas family photo, sending holiday greeting across the country.

Historically, yuletide traditions (which later became associated with Christmas) began in countries of Germanic heritage. Santa Claus, carol singing, presents under the tree, holly and mistletoe, yew branches hanged from the ceiling, and more until it was introduced in the United Kingdom by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. These traditions are also observed by the royal family, most especially the exchange of gifts.

Having mentioned gifts, Norway annually sends a giant Christmas Tree to the United Kingdom as a token of gratitude for the assistance of the British people to Norway during the Second World War.

5/12 Swedish Royal House of Bernadotte

1496221 FILE PHOTO DECEMBER 1986.  King Carl XVI Gustaf, Queen Silvia, Crown Princess Victoria, Prince Carl Philip and Princess Madeleine of Sweden at the Christmas photo session, 1986.   Picture shows: Prince Carl Philip, Crown Princess Victoria, Princess Madeleine King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia.  Photo: Toni Sica Code: 1001  COPYRIGHT STELLA PICTURES
King Carl XVI Gustaf, Queen Silvia, Crown Princess Victoria, Prince Carl Philip and Princess Madeleine of Sweden at the Christmas photo session, December, 1986 | Photo: Toni Sica / Courtesy of Stella Pictures

As Queen Silvia's birthday falls on December 23, she takes the spotlight in the Swedish royal household every Christmas. Hence every feast on Christmas Eve, her favourite loaf-shaped fruitcake Weihnachtsstollen is always on the dining table. Also part of the feast are Crown Princess Victoria's favourite lutefisk, a dried whitefish in lye and Princess Margaret's much-craved lobsters and oysters.

6/12 Dutch Royal Family of the Netherlands

Photo: Erwin Olaf
Photo: Erwin Olaf

Christmas is celebrated early in The Netherlands as the Feast of St. Nicholas is observed on the 5th of December with exchange of gifts, drinking hot chocolate, and eating delightful confections. Apparently the feast of Sinterklaas, of which St. Nicholas is known in The Netherlands, inspired the figure of Santa Claus. And in this celebration, the royal family is very much involved. With the current queen being originally from Argentina, the royal family takes trips to South America during winter to celebrate with her family.

7/12 House of Bourbon

The photo was taken on their trip to Asturias. | Photo: © Casa de SM el Rey
The photo was taken on their trip to Asturias. | Photo: © Casa de SM el Rey

King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia showcase the beauty of Spain through their beautiful Christmas cards each year, which also features their beautiful daughters. Moreover, King Felipe VI broadcasts his Christmas message each year like the other royals. Intimate family celebrations during this season happen near the birthday of the former king, Juan Carlos.

8/12 House of Glücksburg, Denmark

Photo: Hasse Ferrold
Photo: Hasse Ferrold

Instead of sending her message of hope for the coming year and matters to ponder on Christmas Day, Queen Margrethe II of Denmark addresses the nation on New Year's Eve. She then throws a royal ball at the Palace at Amalienborg. The 2019 ball was a mix of revelry and melancholia as it was the first ball without Prince Henrik of Denmark, husband of the queen, who passed away in February of 2018. But preparations for the 2020 ball is on the way and we already have a peek of the Queen's cupboard where boxes and baskets are ready for packaging. How organised!

9/12 House of Nassau-Welburg

Christmas decorations in the Château de Berg, the residence of the Grand Duke of Luxembourg | Photos: Cour grand-ducale / Claude Piscitelli / Eric Chenal
Christmas decorations in the Château de Berg, the residence of the Grand Duke of Luxembourg | Photos: Cour grand-ducale / Claude Piscitelli / Eric Chenal

With the royal family of Luxembourg being large in number, we . can expect exuberant festivities in the Grand Ducal Palace. On Christmas Eve, the Grand Dulk Henri of Luxembourg addresses the people by television, and attends the Christmas Eve Mass at the Notré Dame Cathedral. Luxembourg is also a must-see destination during this season as they put up an hourly tree light show that fabulously illuminates the city.

10/12 House of Belgium

Belgium's King Philippe and Queen Mathilde pose with their children (L-R) Prince Gabriel, Prince Emmanuel, Princess Eleonore and Crown Princess Elisabeth in front of a Christmas tree | Courtesy of worldroyalfamily
Belgium's King Philippe and Queen Mathilde pose with their children (L-R) Prince Gabriel, Prince Emmanuel, Princess Eleonore and Crown Princess Elisabeth in front of a Christmas tree | Courtesy of worldroyalfamily

A few days before Christmas Day, the royal family with select guests and family are dressed to the nines for the annual holiday gala concert at the Royal Palace. King Philippe and Queen Mathilde are known to be staunch supporters of culture and the arts and so the annual gala is indeed of high importance. The Belgians also enjoy the concert as it is broadcasted on national television.

11/12 Yamato Dynasty

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The blossoming Reiwa era of Emperor Naruhito, who ascended to the throne early this year, is marked by peace and tranquility and much hope towards further technological advancement. On January 1st of 2020, the Emperor and his wife Empress Masako will receive greetings from the members of the imperial family and parliament. On the following day, the people of Japan are invited to visit Their Majesties at the Imperial Palace to express their greetings of joy and good wishes. Likewise, the Emperor is expected to speak about the goals Japan must achieve in the upcoming year.

12/12 House of Hashim

Jordan's King Abdullah II and his wife Queen Rania plant tree saplings on Arbour Day in Amman (January 2019) | Photo: AFP
Jordan's King Abdullah II and his wife Queen Rania plant tree saplings on Arbour Day in Amman (January 2019) | Photo: AFP

Every New Year, the royal family of Jordan get involved in tree-planting ceremonies during the Arbor Day every January 15, an international holiday observed as well in other countries where protection of the environment is highlighted and everyone is encouraged to partake. What an altruistic way to kick off the year!

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