Christmas celebrations around the world
December 15, 2008
Christmas is one of the most celebrated festivals in the world and its influence has spread far and wide to every corner of the world and to different cultures. Christmas is also the most favorite of winter celebrations, a time for traditions such as parties, baking cookies, trimming the tree, decorating the house and family get-together. Personally I enjoy the festive spirits of Christmas too!
Enjoyed by both children and adults, it is probably the most popular holiday in the world. Let this interesting article tell you more about how Christmas is celebrated in some parts of the world.
The modern Christmas is a product of hundreds of years of both secular and religious traditions from around the globe. It is interesting to see how different countries celebrate the same festival in different ways. Here are some of the examples:
Christmas in the USA
In 1863, Santa Claus was given the name and bore the red suit, pipe, and his reindeer and sleigh. Early European settlers brought many traditions to the US. Now Christmas celebrations vary greatly between regions of the US, because of the variety of nationalities that have settled there.
In Hawaii, Christmas starts with the coming of the Christmas Tree Ship. Santa Claus also arrives by boat and Christmas dinner is eaten outdoors. In Alaska, boys and girls with lanterns on poles carry a large figure of a star from door to door. They sing carols and are invited in for supper. In Washington D.C., a huge, spectacular tree is lit ceremoniously when the President presses a button and turns on the tree’s lights. In New Orleans, a huge ox is paraded around the streets decorated with holly and ribbons tied to its horns.
The majority of Americans celebrate Christmas with the exchange of gifts and greetings and with family visits. For many, the day begins on Christmas Eve with the Midnight Mass. American homes are decorated with holly, mistletoe and branches of trees. Most have a Christmas tree hung with radiant decorative items.
Christmas in England
The English enjoy beautiful Christmas music. They love to decorate Christmas Trees and hang up evergreen branches. The English gift giver is called Father Christmas. He wears a long red or green robe, and leaves presents in stockings on Christmas Eve. The traditional Christmas dinner is roast turkey with vegetables and sauces.
One English custom is mumuring. In the Middle Ages, people called mummers put on masks and acted out Christmas plays. These plays are still performed in towns and villages.
In England the day after Christmas is called Boxing Day because boys used to go round collecting money in clay boxes. When the boxes were full, they broke them open.
Christmas in Spain
Christmas is a deeply religious holiday in Spain. The Christmas season officially begins on December 8, the feast of the Immaculate Conception. Christmas Eve is known as “the Good Night.” It is a time for family members to gather together to rejoice and feast around the Nativity scenes that are present in nearly every home.
December 28 is the feast of the Holy Innocents. Young boys of a town or village light bonfires and one of them acts as the mayor who orders townspeople to perform civic chores such as sweeping the streets. Refusal to comply results in fines which are used to pay for the celebration.
On Christmas Eve, as the stars come out, tiny oil lamps are lit in every house, and after Midnight Mass and Christmas Dinner, streets fill with dancers and onlookers.
Christmas in Italy
The Christmas season in Italy continues for three weeks, starting eight days before Christmas known as the Novena. During this period, children go from house to house reciting Christmas poems and singing.
A strict fast is observed for 24 hours before Christmas Eve and is followed by a celebration meal. Presents and empty boxes are drawn from the Urn of Fate — lucky dip, which always contains one gift per person. By twilight, candles are lighted around the family crib known as the Presepio, prayers are said and children recite poems.
In Italy the children wait until Epiphany, January 6, for their presents. According to tradition, the presents are delivered by a kind, ugly witch called Befana on a broomstick. It was said that she was told by the three kings that the baby Jesus was born; she was busy and delayed visiting the baby. She missed the Star, lost her way and has been flying around ever since, leaving presents at every house with children in case he is there.
Christmas in Africa
Preparation for Christmas in the Congo begins when some group is designated to prepare the annual Christmas pageant. Christmas day begins with groups of carollers walking to and fro through the village, along the roadway, by the houses of the missionaries, singing the lovely carols known the world around.
The most important part of their Christmas worship service is the love offering, this is the gift in honor of Jesus. Everyone who attends the service goes forward to lay down their gift upon the raised platform near the Communion table. Now people have Christmas dinners after the service, preparing tables out in front of their home and inviting many of their intimate friends to share.
Christmas in China
The Chinese Christmas trees are called “Trees of Light.” Santa Claus is called Dun Che Lao Ren which means “Christmas Old Man.”.
The Christian children of China decorate trees with colourful ornaments. These ornaments are made from paper in the shapes of flowers, chains and lanterns. They also hang muslin stockings hoping that Christmas Old Man will fill them with gifts and treats.
The non-Christian Chinese call this season the Spring Festival and celebrate with many festivities that include delicious meals and pay respects to their ancestors. The children are the main focus of these celebrations. They receive new lothes and toys, eat delectable food and watch firecracker displays.
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For some of the best Christmas gift ideas check Dress it up for Christmas