Picture Credit: Photo by Gary Spears from Pexels
Info summarised from https://www.whychristmas.com/cultures/
It’s the 1st of December and Christmas is officially just around the corner. Christmas is still my favourite time of year and if by some miracle it snows, it makes it all the more festive. We all know Christmas to be the time of year people give and receive presents but what is it actually all about?
Christmas day takes place every year on the 25th December and according to Wikipedia, Christmas is generally recognised as an annual festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, observed primarily on December 25 as a religious and cultural celebration among billions of people around the world. It is generally celebrated by Christians and some non-Christians.
While religion is a significant part of Christmas, it is also seen as a cultural and commercial event. Many department stores such as John Lewis spend millions every year making the perfect Christmas advert. Shops such as Sainsbury’s and Tesco also advertise their festive products.
The cool thing about Christmas is that while it may be celebrating the same thing, different countries have their own way of marking the occasion. Here’s how Christmas is celebrated around the world…
- Argentina – Houses are beautifully decorated with lights and wreaths of green, gold, red and white flowers. Red and white garlands are hung on the doors of houses. The main meal is eaten during the evening of Christmas Eve, often about 10pm or 11pm. Some popular dishes include roasted turkey, roasted pork (in northern Argentina, some people will have goat), stuffed tomatoes, salads and Christmas bread and puddings like ‘Pan Dulce’ and Panetone. At midnight, fireworks are set off. In Argentina, the main language spoken is Spanish (still called Castellano by Argentines), so Happy/Merry Christmas is ‘Feliz Navidad’.
- Armenia – Some Armenians fast (don’t eat anything) in the week before Christmas. The Christmas Eve meal is called khetum ‘Խթում’. Santa Claus Gaghant Baba / Kaghand Papa traditionally comes on New Year’s Eve (December 31st) because Christmas Day itself is thought of as more of a religious holiday in Armenia. At the beginning of December, a big Christmas tree (Tonatsar) is put up in Republic Square in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia. Favorited and traditional Holiday foods in Armenia include Anooshaboor (Armenian Christmas Pudding), Khozee bood (glazed ham) and dried fruits.
- Australia – Australians also decorate their houses with bunches of ‘Christmas Bush’, a native Australian tree with small green leaves and cream coloured flowers. In each State capital city there is a large Carols by Candlelight service. Famous Australian singers like John Farnham, Anthony Warlow, Niki Webster and many more help to sing the carols. These carol services, held in different cities, are broadcast on TV across Australia.
- Austria – Christmas in Austria really starts around 4.00pm on Christmas Eve (‘Heilige Abend’) when the tree is lit for the first time and people come to sing carols around the tree. The most famous carol is Silent Night (‘Stille Nacht’), which was written in Austria in 1818. In Austria, St Nicholas is often accompanied by the Krampus, he is a big horned monster clothed in rags and carries chains. He’s meant to punish children who have been bad! Every year, Austria’s capital city, Vienna, holds a world famous classical music concert ‘NeuJahrsKonzert’ which takes place during the morning of New Year’s day.
- China – In China, only about one percent of people are Christians. In China, Santa is known as ‘Sheng dan lao ren. People give apples on Christmas Eve because in Chinese Christmas Eve is called “Ping’an Ye” (平安夜), meaning peaceful or quiet evening, which has been translated from the carol ‘Silent Night’.
- Croatia – In Croatia, preparations for Christmas start on 25th November which is St Catherine’s day. On St Nicholas’s Eve (5th), children clean their shoes/boots and leave them on the window. They hope that St Nicholas will leave them chocolates and small presents in their boot. There’s an old Croatian tradition that young men give their girlfriends a decorated apple at Christmas. The main Christmas Day is often turkey, goose or duck. A popular side dish is sarma (cabbage rolls filled with minced pork meat).
- Czech Republic – Ježíšek ‘Little Jesus’ (the Czech version of Christkindl) brings presents during the Christmas Eve dinner and leaves them under the Christmas Tree. Czech children have their dinner in a different room from where the tree is located. When they hear the bell ring (usually after the children have finished eating their main meal but when they are still at the table), that means that Ježíšek had been and has left their presents under the tree. The presents are normally opened right after dinner.
- Germany – Christmas Trees are very important in Germany. They were first used in Germany during the late Middle Ages. If there are young children in the house, the trees are usually secretly decorated by the mother of the family. Christmas Eve is the main day when Germans exchange presents with their families. Germany is well known for its Christmas Markets where all sorts of Christmas foods and decorations are sold.
- Ireland – Christmas lasts from Christmas Eve to the feast of Epiphany on January 6th. The day after Christmas Day, St. Stephen’s Day (known as Boxing Day in the UK and some other countries), is also very important in Ireland. Like in the UK, football matches and horse racing meetings are traditionally held on St. Stephen’s Day. One very old tradition is the Wren Boys Procession that takes place on St. Stephen’s Day.
- Italy – The city of Naples in Italy is world famous for its cribs and crib making. Naples is also the home to the largest crib scene in the world, which has over 600 objects on it. One old Italian custom is that children go out Carol singing and playing songs on shepherd’s pipes, wearing shepherds sandals and hats. On Christmas day ‘Babbo Natale’ (Santa Claus) might bring them some small gifts, but the main day for present giving is on Epiphany.
- Poland – Christmas Eve is a very important and busy day in Poland. Traditionally it was a day of fasting and abstinence (not eating anything) and meat is not normally allowed to be eaten in any form. On the table there are 12 dishes – they are meant to give you good luck for the next 12 months. Carp is often the main dish of the meal.
- Trinidad and Tobago – The radio stations play Trinidadian Christmas carols and songs as well as traditional and contemporary carols from the USA. The traditional Trinibagonian Christmas meal include apples and grapes, sorrel, ponche-de-creme (a version of egg nog), ham, turkey, homemade bread, ginger beer, pastelles (a version of tamales) and local wine. Trinidadian Christmas fruitcake is traditional and is eaten in most homes.
- United Kingdom – The decorating of the tree is usually a family occasion, with everyone helping. Most villages, towns and cities are decorated with Christmas lights over Christmas. Often a famous person switches them on. Children write letters to Father Christmas/Santa listing their requests, but sometimes instead of putting them in the post, the letters are tossed into the fireplace. The draught carries the letters up the chimney and Father Christmas/Santa reads the smoke. Dessert is usually Christmas Cake.
So there’s just a few countries (couldn’t go through them all) and how they celebrate Christmas. If you feel I left anything out please comment below as I love learning about different cultures.
Happy Blogmas X