‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through my house, everyone was stirring, from the biggest person to the smallest mouse! The excitement for Christmas morning is still strong in this household, just going to show you that when it comes to the holidays, you’re never too old. I wish I could keep up this rhyming all the way through, but alas my mind is too fatigued from work, but hopefully it was entertaining enough for all of you.
So for many people, today is Christmas Eve. This means something different for everyone, depending on how you celebrate it. In our household, it is a day set aside to be with the family, getting together with people we haven’t seen for quite some time, and then exchanging gifts with one another. I figure this is pretty typical for many Canadians, but I’m not one to generalize one set of norms onto the rest of the world. With that in mind, I decided that I would look into the ways that other countries around the world celebrate the Christmas holidays!
In China, their share many of the western Christmas traditions, thanks to the steady globalization of the world. However, there are certain unique traditions that they still hold onto, one of which is the way they decorate their tree’s. Their Christmas trees are referred to as ‘tree’s of light’, and they are decorated with long paper chains, paper lanterns, and other types of decorative origami. Their version of Santa Clause is known as “Dun Che Lao Ren”, which translates to “Christmas Old Man”. Just like the Western Santa, he brings presents for children, placing them in their stockings. They are also big on attending festivals, where they go to enjoy time with family and friends, eat good food, watch firecrackers, and also to honor the memory of their ancestors.
In Finland, the put up their fir tree’s on Christmas Eve and decorate them with various types of fruit, candies, little paper flags, tinsel and cotton. Instead of using christmas lights, they use a more traditional method, which is lighting candles and placing them in the tree. And instead of the traditional turkey for the main course, they prepare a boiled codfish. The traditions vary between the rural and the suburb communities, but a common practice for either one is to visit the cemeteries to pay their respect to lost loved ones. They wish each other a “Hyvaa Joulua”, which is Finnish for “Merry Christmas”, and the children work at making their own Christmas calenders with pictures that represent different parts of Christmas.
In Germany, their Christmas holidays begin on December 6th, which is known as “Nikolaustag”, or “St. Nicholas Day”. It is common practice on the night before the 6th for children to place boots of shoes outside the front door, so that when St. Nicholas comes to visit them, they can either fill the shoes with goodies for the children who have been good, or twigs for the children who have been naughty. They also put out wreaths made of Holy flowers, which they will place at the center of the table with four red candles placed within the center of the wreath. Each of those candles is lit, one at a time, on each Sunday leading up to the big day. This country is important for how we celebrate the holidays, because this is the country where the Christmas tree originated from. They follow a tradition where the children are not allowed to decorate the tree, and have to be placed in a different room while the parents decorate it with fruit, nuts, cookies, angels, and many other festive decorations. One of their most renowned Christmas goodies is Marzipan, which is usually molded into the shape of Christmas characters, like Santa Clause or little angels.
Mexico is one of the few countries that have managed to retain their own traditions, without being influenced by American culture. Their Christmas celebrations start on December 12th, and go all the way to January 6th. The take part in the Posada, which is a recreation of the part of the story of Joseph and Mary, when they are trying to find a place to give birth to the son of God. This is performed in a different church every day until Christmas Eve. On the 23rd, the day before Christmas Eve, they take part in Noches de los Rabanos, which is a kind of festival where they put hand carved radishes on display, each one depicting a different theme which is not necessarily related to Christmas. And of course, there is the Pinata, which is mostly enjoyed by the children who love nothing more than to smash it open and collect whatever goodies were placed inside.
These are just some of the different ways Christmas is celebrated around the world. If you want to learn about how other countries enjoy the holiday season, you can find out more at The Holiday Spot.
Christmas means something different for everyone, whether it’s celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, spending a day with the family, or taking part in extravagant festivities. Whatever you celebrate, or however you celebrate it, I wish you all a happy holiday season, and a …
Sheng Dan Kuai Le
Mo’adim Lesimkha. Chena tova
Buone Feste Natalizie
… and a merry Christmas salutation in every other language as well.