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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.