CHRIST­MAS AROUND THE WORLD

See how the most awaited day of the year is cel­e­brated in Europe, Africa, and even the place of Je­sus’ birth

Cebu Living - - Feature - BY TRINA ANTE

How do you cel­e­brate Christ­mas? Pick up ideas from this list of pop­u­lar Christ­mas tra­di­tions ob­served in coun­tries around the world. To view how other coun­tries com­mem­o­rate Christ­mas, visit www. col­lege­crunch.org and read the blog en­try " 20 Dif­fer­ent Christ­mas Tra­di­tions from Around the World" posted on Novem­ber 29, 2010.

In Eng­land:

English fam­i­lies use holly and ivy as dec­o­ra­tions for the home and hang mistle­toe by the door. More­over, Christ­mas is a day of work for fam­i­lies and a time for gift wrap­ping, bak­ing, and bond­ing be­tween par­ents and chil­dren over Christ­mas sto­ry­book tales. Chil­dren write wish lists for Santa Claus and throw them into the fire­place as this cus­tom is be­lieved to make wishes come true. Car­ol­ers visit ev­ery house and en­joy minia­ture cakes and other sweet good­ies af­ter they per­form. On Christ­mas day, fam­i­lies hold a mid­day feast with a va­ri­ety of dishes such as turkey, stuff­ing, roast turkey/ beef sides and end their meal with a serv­ing of York­shire pud­ding. Af­ter­wards, they catch the Queen of Eng­land's Christ­mas mes­sage on TV or the ra­dio and have tea with Christ­mas cake.

In Mex­ico:

Mex­i­cans ob­serve Christ­mas tra­di­tions the Ro­man Catholic way. In Las Posadas, a nine- day fes­ti­val which sym­bol­izes the Na­tiv­ity or the long search for a place where Mary can give birth to Je­sus, fam­i­lies open their homes and play host to the event from De­cem­ber 16 to 24, as chil­dren and adults reen­act the Na­tiv­ity scene. Other ac­tiv­i­ties in­clude singing of vil­lan­ci­cos (Christ­mas car­ols), hit­ting the piñata, and the Mex­i­can fi­esta. Fam­i­lies hear Mass on Christ­mas Day and have Christ­mas din­ner with the tra­di­tional menu com­posed of ox­tail soup with beans and chili pep­per, and roast turkey

In Italy:

and veg­eta­bles. Gifts are ex­changed not on Christ­mas but on the eve of Epiphany on Jan­uary 5. The first Sun­day of Ad­vent, a day be­tween Novem­ber 27 and De­cem­ber 3, is the of­fi­cial start of the Christ­mas sea­son in Italy. Some Ital­ians cel­e­brate this day with fire­works, bon­fires, and Yule­tide tunes. Manger scenes are big in Italy; fam­i­lies ei­ther shop for new manger fig­urines in Christ­mas mar­kets or dec­o­rate their Christ­mas trees creatively. Novena is be­ing held nine days be­fore Christ­mas, and on this oc­ca­sion chil­dren go car­ol­ing and write to their par­ents ask­ing for gifts in ex­change for be­ing good dur­ing the new year. Like Eng­land, the fire­place has a sig­nif­i­cant role in mak­ing wish lists, as the chil­dren's let­ters are read aloud by par­ents and tossed into the lighted logs af­ter­wards. Christ­mas Day is spent at­tend­ing Mass, at­tend­ing par­ties, and fam­ily bond­ing.

In Beth­le­hem:

As the very spot where Je­sus Christ was born, Beth­le­hem holds tra­di­tions based on a rich his­tory. This makes it one of the nicest place to cel­e­brate Christ­mas: cus­toms con­sist of pro­ces­sions that of­ten in­clude Manger Square in the route, and Western tra­di­tions like street light­ing, play­ing Christ­mas games, and putting up mar­kets. Be­sides the manger, a painted cross on the door is a sta­ple of Beth­le­hem homes.

In Ethopia:

Unique Christ­mas cus­toms set Ethiopia apart from other coun­tries. Fol­low­ing the old Ju­lian cal­en­dar, Ethiopia cel­e­brates Christ­mas Day on Jan­uary 7. This day, ac­cord­ing to the Ethiopian Ortho­dox Church, is not a cel­e­bra­tion of Je­sus' birth­day, but rather an oc­ca­sion called Ganna. On the day prior to Ganna, a lot of Ethopi­ans don white, fast, and at­tend a tra­di­tional mass at 4 am. Come the of­fi­cial cel­e­bra­tion, fam­i­lies serve and eat wat, a spicy stew made of meat and veg­eta­bles. Fes­tiv­i­ties con­tinue af­ter Ganna; Timkat, held on Jan­uary 19, is a com­mem­o­ra­tion of Christ's bap­tism. On this event, fam­i­lies go to church, en­joy live mu­sic, and wear tra­di­tional cos­tumes. Cel­e­bra­tions like these speak of unit­ing un­der one faith and the spe­cial close­ness among fam­i­lies.

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