Celebrating Christmas Around the World
Christmas Around the World
Christmas around the world is such an exciting theme as there are so many different countries on our wonderful planet and it's fun to learn how other countries celebrate this special time of year.I have taught this subject every Christmas for the past 15 years. Each year it's fascinating to watch the young children light up as we learn about a new country and one of it's holiday customs or traditions. I choose different countries each year so that I approach the season with a fresh excitement to learn and share with the children, and my family. With this article, we will go around the globe and focus on different cultures and their custom of celebrating Christmas.
Many people celebrate Christmas on December 25 as the birth of Jesus. We will not focus on the possibilities of this being accurate as there is controversy surrounding the exact date, but long ago people held festivals at this time of year hoping that winter would end. It was a festive time and gifts would be exchanged as well as gathering around feasts. Eventually the church officials chose this date. Not everyone celebrates Christmas as a Christian holiday and celebrate cultural traditions such as Saint Nicholas Day or Saint Lucia Day.
Let's begin our journey around the world. Having these 'teacher genes' working with me, we're going in alphabetical order, although not representing each letter, but covering a diverse group of traditions and customs starting with the country's greeting.
Christmas Around the World
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Greetings and Customs Around the World
Greeting: Happy Christmas or Merry Christmas
Custom: It is celebrated during their summer and the weather is warm. They may spend Christmas with a picnic at the beach or a bbq in their backyard eating little cakes called lamingtons.
Bolivia (South America)
Greeting: Feliz Navidad which means Happy Nativity
Custom: Bolivian children leave shoes and stockings out to receive presents from El nino Jesus. They leave a clay figure of what they would like next to a figure of Jesus in their family's nativity scene.
Christmas in France
Greeting: Merry Christmas or Joyeux Noel (Quebec)
Custom: In Eastern Canada they receive barley toys and chicken bones in their stockings. A barley toy is a red or yellow hard candy on a stick. A chicken bone is a cinnamon stick. (Yum!)
Greeting: Melkm Ganna (Wishing You a Happy Christmas)
Custom: Ethiopians observe Christmas on January 7 and celebrate Timkat (Christ's baptism) on January 19. Timkat last for three days and on the first day the priests collect church scrolls of the Ten Commandments and carry them to tents where people come to pray.
Greeting: Joyeux Noel (Joyous Christmas)
Custom: How about thirteen desserts on Christmas Eve? In southern France, they serve a dessert to honor Jesus and the twelve apostles. One of these desserts is the Yule log which is a cake to represent the actual yule log which many people burn in their homes from Christmas Day until New Years Day for good luck.
Greeting: Kala Christouyena (Merry Christmas)
Custom: Greek children go from house to house singing Christmas carols on Christmas Day. They play instruments such as drums, harmonicas and triangles. Sometimes people will give them treats such as cookies, candy or coins.
Gledileg Jol (Merry Christmas)
Custom: Icelandic children will decorate their homes with Christmas pockets and little stairs for the elves which they believe visit their homes from December 12 through December 24. The elves leave gifts in their shoes.
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Greeting: Meri Kurisumasu (Merry Christmas)
Custom: They serve beautiful cakes on Christmas Eve decorated with white frosting, strawberries and holiday ornaments. The children will find gifts from Santa Kurohsu or Hoteiosho under their evergreen trees decorated with tiny candles, dolls, wind chimes and gold paper fans.
Greeting: Meelad Majeed (Birth Glorious)
Custom: Lebanese children grow sprout shoots from wheat grains, lentils or bean sprouts starting a month before Christmas. When the sprouts are three to six inches high, they decorate their homes and manger scenes with the shoots. At midnight on Christmas Eve, Baby Jesus will be placed into the manger and bells ring announcing the anniversary of Christ's birth.
Greeting: Eku Odum Ebi Jesu (Happy Celebration on the birth of Jesus Christ)
Custom: They decorate palm trees and hang palm branches both inside and outside their homes. The palm branches represent peace and are a symbol of Christmas. They may light sparklers and dress in costume at Christmastime.
Greeting: Maligayang Pasko (Merry Christmas)
Custom: On December 16 the bells ring at 4:00 A.M. to announce the first mass of the Christmas season. They decorate with parols which are three dimension stars made out of paper which they can hang on their Christmas trees. Some people spend months making them to hold in parades on Christmas Eve and prizes are given for the best parols.
Greeting: C Rodzhestvom Kristovom (with the birth of Christ)
Custom: The Russian Orthodox Christmas is celebrated on January 7. A meatless dinner is served with the most important dish being a special porridge called kutya. It is made of berries, wheat or other grains to symbolize immortality, honey and poppy seeds are added to ensure happiness and success. It is eaten from a common bowl to symbolize unity.
Greeting: Merry Christmas
Custom: The traditional celebration is on December 25 observing the birth of Jesus Christ. Many families have long held customs of decorating evergreen trees with ornaments and tinsel to represent light. On Christmas Eve there are candle- lit ceremonies in churches and each person carries a small candle home to represent the ever-lasting light. There are so many different customs as there are many different nationalities of peoples in the US. Children enjoy opening presents on Christmas Day and it is a time of family gatherings with feasts
Greeting: Feliz Navidad (Happy Nativity)
Custom: The celebration begins on December 16 with daily early morning masses through December 24. Families gather on December 24 to formally celebrate Christmas after mass. They gather for the traditional feast which includes hallaca, tamales, pan de jamon and dulce de lechoza which is a dessert made with green papaya and brown sugar. It is cooked for hours and then served cold. Children receive gifts from Baby Jesus.
The Magic of Christmas
Celebrating Christmas With Family and Friends
Christmastime is a special time of year however it is celebrated. It is a time of joy, love, forgiveness, remembrance, reflection, fun, feasting, spending time together with family and hopefully also with friends and those that may need a friend.
I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round, as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. ~Charles Dickens
Enjoy the season. Merry Christmas means love in every language.