We all have our own particular way to celebrate Christmas; whether it’s a huge traditional family affair with heaps of presents, food and parlour games or an exotic sunny getaway where the guy in the red suit doesn’t even visit. Whatever your Christmas Day of choice, these are a few ways that the festival is celebrated across the world.
Festivities in Australia
Christmas in Australia comes in the middle of the hot summer. Where other countries are having the traditional Christmas meals Australians are having barbecues and family picnics. They still have Christmas lights and one of the most popular events is touring the neighbourhoods that are all adorned with lights. Australians also celebrate Christmas by starting the day at church. Gift giving is also high on the list of celebrating Christmas. They even have a Santa Claus dressed in his traditional red suit.
Christmas in the USA
In the United States different religions celebrate Christmas differently but the majority of them do celebrate in the traditional way with Christmas trees, Santa Clause, gift giving and church services. All through the holiday season there are Christmas parties with hot apple cider, eggnog and all the different Christmas cookies and candies. Children are snug in their bed early on Christmas Eve in order to get up early to open presents that Santa Claus has left under the tree. A lot of people attend midnight mass on Christmas Eve and others got to the Christmas service that morning.
Glad tidings in France
In France Christmas is all about the show, the glitz and the glamour. Like a lot of other countries in the eastern and northern parts of Europe the Christmas season begins on the sixth of December. There the Christmas season is known as the fête de Saint Nicolas. In France children also hope that their shoes will be filled with goodies such as fruit, candy and nuts but instead of calling him Santa Claus they call him that Père Noël (aka Papa Noël. Santons which are crèches are displayed in churches and homes. They even have living ones that are based on the Nativity. These living crèches are performed in plays and by puppets. The purpose of this is to teach about the importance of Christianity and the Christmas celebration.
Celebrations in Japan
In Japan they love celebrations of all kinds including Christmas yet they don’t really celebrate December 25. Instead they celebrate December 23 which is the birthday of their emperor. In Japan they celebrate Christmas commercially. The father or mother buys a “Christmas Cake’ on their way home from work and the family eats it. Due to the marketing strategy of Kentucky Fried Chicken most of the people believe that Americans eat fried chicken as their Christmas dinner and therefore they eat tons of it on Christmas. Christmas presents are given but they are in the form of cute presents and cards are sent to their friends.
Merry Mexican Christmas
In Mexico Christmas is celebrated from December 12th to Januarys 6. They hold what is called the Posada which is the Spanish word for Inn or lodging. Nine nights a procession is held that goes to a different house each night. On the last night baby Jesus is found and the people then go to Midnight Mass. During this season piñata‘s are hung, children are blindfolded and attempt to bust the piñata. Candy falls and he children rush to pick it up. In Mexico children do not get their presents until January 6 at the Epiphany. It is traditional to eat cake that has a figure of baby Jesus in it. Whoever gets the figure in their piece of cakes gets to be baby Jesus’ Godparent on that year on Candelaria which is held on February 2 and is considered the end of Mexican Christmas celebrations.
Christmas in Germany
In Germany different regions have different customs, although most of them celebrate Christmas in the same way. The Christmas season in Germany starts with Advent Sunday. Most homes have an advent wreath which they place in family rooms, doors and windows. Wreathes are decorated with in a modern way or in the traditional way with orange slices, cinnamon sticks and apple slices. Each wreathe has four candles on it which represent the four advent Sundays before Christmas, A candle is lit each Sunday. The lighting of the candles is a family event with carols being sung and passages of the Bible read. On December 6 Sankt Nikolaus or Santa Claus visits the children, the night before they have placed their shoes outside the door. Sankt Nikolaus fills them with all kinds of goodies.
In Italy while the Christmas holiday is celebrated from December 24 to January 6 it includes a celebration that actually starts on December 8. In Italy Christmas follows the pagan celebrations which start with the winter solstice festival. It then ends with the Roman New Year. The day for gift giving is Epiphany which is the twelfth day of Christmas. This is the day that the three Wise Men gave their gifts to Baby Jesus. In Italy it is not Santa Claus who fills the stockings it is La Befana, who is a witch who like Santa does come down the chimney bearing gifts, but instead of a red bag she is holding a broom. Another tradition is the Christmas Eve dinner which is a family event. After eating a meatless meal the family visits a living nativity scene and then midnight mass.
Bonus; British Christmas Traditions
For a few the traditional British Christmas will begin with either mass the night before or a morning church service on the day. Christmas in the UK is very family orientated with families gathering to eat the traditional turkey lunch with all the trimmings, watch the Queens Speech as the monarch addresses the nation at 3pm and play games during the afternoon. The day will also feature traditional festive food and drink such as stilton, port and plenty of chocolate!
By Julie Bowman