Holidays Around the World. Christmas is a holiday celebrated all around the world. The religious significance of the holiday is the celebration of the birth of Jesus, while the secular festivities involve a gift-giving character who brings presents and treats to good children. Holiday customs include decorations, music, and specialty foods.
Let’s take a look at some of the most interesting ways Christmas is celebrated all around the world.
Christmas is celebrated on December 25th with church services for believers. A midnight service is very popular. People of all faiths decorate their homes and gardens with star-shaped paper lanterns and some set up nativity scenes. Father Christmas is the one who brings presents to children from a horse and cart. Special Christmas cakes and sweets such as newries and kulkuls are baked and open houses abound.
St. Lucia’s day is celebrated on December 13th. St. Lucia was a Christian martyr from 304 AD known for secretly taking food to persecuted Christians in the catacombs of Rome. Today young girls dress in white dresses with a red sash, and wear a crown of lights to help Lucia find her way. Special Lucia Day buns called Lussekatts are served. Then on Christmas Eve a huge buffet known as julbord is eaten in courses. It begins with cold fish dishes and moves to cold meats, warm meat dishes and desserts. Glogg, a sweet mulled wine, and coffee are favorite drinks. Homes are decorated with straw to remind everyone that Jesus was born in a manger. Gifts are brought by small gnomes called jultomten.
An island off the east coast of Africa, it is very warm at Christmas time. Still decorations include holly and “snow” though neither exist there. Santa is known as Dadabe Noely and only small gifts are exchanged. On Christmas day people everywhere, even strangers, greet one another with “Arahaba tratry ny Noely” which means Merry Christmas and then go to their families to eat dinners of chicken or pork with rice and a special cake. Another favorite
Christmas food is the lychee, a fruit which is peeled and eaten with great enjoyment.
In Hong Kong
Christians celebrate Christmas with homemade cards bearing original artwork. The scenes show the Holy family in Chinese settings. Poinsettias and nativity scenes are used for decorations. The Chinese alphabet is put on streamers and paper chains hang everywhere. Santa Claus is known as Lan Khong or Dun Che Lao Ren.
Christmas day, known as Kisimusi begins with a church service. Then people visit all of their friends and family, and eat and exchange gifts all day long. Favorite meals are chicken with rice which is a special treat. Often large speakers are put into the streets and music is played loudly. People wear their best clothes and homes are decorated with ivy draped around the top of the rooms. Christmas cards may have wild animals on them and small gifts are given to children on Christmas morning.
In New Zealand
Christmas also falls in the hot summer months. Families are often celebrating their summer holidays by camping or staying at the beach. There are parades and Christmas trees. The Christmas meal is barbecued meats or seafood. Desserts such as hot fruit pudding or meringues are served. Pavlova is a favorite dessert. Presents are opened on Christmas day before the special lunch.
Christmas is celebrated by the Orthodox Church. It is held on January 7th, and called Ganna. People fast on January 6th then on the morning of the 7th they wear a traditional garment called a shamma. It is a thin white cotton toga-like outfit. The shamma is worn to a special service held in the circle-shaped church. Candles are held in a procession and communion is taken. At the time of Ganna men and boys play a game similar to hockey also known as ganna. Special foods eaten at this time of year are meat and vegetables called wat and flatbread known as injera. Children usually receive gifts of clothing.
Carol singing is the highlight of the festivities. Carolers sing at dawn of Christmas morning and are invited in for snacks. Taffy-making is also a favorite family activity. There is a prize for the best new Christmas carol written that year and it is added to the list of carols sung in future Christmas celebrations.
Christmas is celebrated by the Orthodox Church. Once banned by the communist regime, Christmas is again celebrated with special church services, and wonderful meat and cabbage pies called pirogi and meat dumplings known as pelmeni. A porridge, kutya, is served along with honey and poppy seeds to bring happiness, success and peace. Children carry a star and go house to house in the cold winter snows singing carols and receiving sweets.
Children love to hear about the ways other children celebrate. Why not share some of this information in your holiday discussions? You may even want to include some of the foods or traditions in your own family festivities.