I come from a culture in which people spread Christmas cheer by gathering in groups and going door to door on a cold and frosty evening to sing Christmas carols, usually in harmony. Sometimes they even bring treats for the inhabitants of the homes who's doors they knock on.
As a lover of singing and spreading Christmas cheer I have always enjoyed Christmas caroling. And, really, as a lover of donuts and hot apple cider after caroling I have always enjoyed Christmas caroling.
I have missed it in the years we've lived here. Christmas caroling is, um, different in Poland. And by different I mean that it's basically the opposite of what it is in the States. Beginning with the fact that it is done after Christmas instead of before.
Young or teenage boys dress up as shepherds or wise men (and we once had a grim reaper?) and knock on doors after Christmas. When the door is opened they begin singing. Badly. And in most cases very badly. It is hard not to laugh, but a blast of icy air is usually freezing your face stiff before the laughing comes (when it's just a pleasant smile), assisting you in your efforts to be kind..
Although these young carolers don't come bearing any Christmas goodies there IS an element of giving involved. Those being sung to are expected to cough up something valuable to give to each of the (usually 3-5) boys. Money, of course, is the most acceptable but we've given treats before, too. That was only because we didn't have any coal on hand. At our house "gifts" are only ever handed over after Greg has given the boys a proper teasing and made them all giggle (if they're elementary aged) or slug each other in the arms (if they're a little older). Usually something about how bad their singing was, or remarks about their costumes (the grim reaper that one year really got an earful!).
They take their loot and are off to terrorize the next neighbor. It's really very festive.
Who'll bet I reach crabby old-ladihood before Melanie? Who bets I'm already there?