|Photo courtesy of Huffington Post|
I thought it would be fun to explore how other cultures celebrate the Christmas holiday. I did some research and found a great site that truly reveals how it's done in 50+ countries around this spectacular planet.
I decided to showcase a few of them right here; however, it wasn't easy to choose, because I enjoyed them all. Do take some time to check them all out (especially some of the videos), as each one is unique and marvelous in its own right.
Here are a few distinct factors I noted from the chosen bios on the website:
- Christmas trees are called trees of light and decorated with paper chains, paper lanterns and paper flowers
- Dun Che Lao Ren is Santa's name
- Christmas Day isn't a public holiday
- Baking Vanoka (traditional Christmas loaves)
- "Barborky," which is a tradition on the feast day of St. Barbora. On every 4th of December, young girls of marriageable age cut off a twig from a cherry tree and put it in water. If it blooms by Christmas Eve, the girl is believed to get married during the following year.
- It's believed that Svaty Mikalas (St. Nicholas) climbs down to earth using a golden rope, carrying one sack filled with presents for good kids and another sack filled with sticks for kids who don't behave.
- On Christmas Eve, the tree is decorated and many people fast all day long until the big meal that night. It's considered unlucky to get up from the table before everyone is finished, and the table is always set for an even number of guests, as it's believed to be bad luck otherwise.
- The Christmas tree originated in Germany.
- Children don't take part in decorating the tree, because it's believed that the tree puts a spell on the children if they view it before Dec. 24. A bell is rung as a signal for the children to enter the room after the tree is decorated.
- Christmas Eve is known as "Dickbauch" (meaning "fat stomach") because of the myth that those who do not eat well on Christmas Eve will be haunted by demons during the night. So everyone tries to stuff their belly to the fullest on this day.
- "Hotei-osho," a Buddhist monk, is the Japanese equivalent of Santa Claus.
- The traditional Japanese Christmas food is the Christmas cake, generally made of sponge cake, strawberries and whipped cream. Fried chicken is often eaten on Christmas Day.
- For single women in Japan, the Christmas Eve evening is the time to spend quality hours with their special someone.
- Mexican Christmas celebrations begin on December 12 with the birthday of "La Guadalupana" (Virgin of Guadalupe) and end on January 6 with the Epiphany.
- Children usually do not attend school on January 6. They wake up early in the morning to find gifts or toys.
- At midnight on Christmas Eve, dazzling fireworks, ringing bells and blowing whistles announce the birth of Christ.
- Christmas is annually celebrated on January 7th, thanks to the Russian Orthodox Church, which made it an official holiday in the country.
- The most important food of the Christmas dinner is a special porridge called kutya. The traditional ingredients are wheatberries (or other grains which symbolize hope and immortality), and honey and poppy seeds, which ensure happiness, success and peace.
- A Christmas ceremony of great significance is the blessing of individual homes. A priest visits every home, accompanied by boys carrying vessels of holy water. A little water is sprinkled in each room, which is believed to usher in happiness and fortune.
- Christmas is celebrated as the birthday of Jesus Christ, known here as "Kito."
- The Christmas supper is the most important meal of the Vietnamese Christmas, and consists of chicken soup or turkey and Christmas pudding.
- Children believe in Santa and put their shoes in front of their doors on Christmas Eve. On the morning of December 25th, they wake up to find them filled with treats.
- Pantomiming while wearing masks is a popular tradition and comes from Newfoundland. In places like Labrador and Nova Scotia, local people wear masks and visit houses during the twelve days of Christmas, miming and making rude noises and actions, ringing bells and asking for candy or other treats.
- A popular Christmas dish is "boulettes," which is small meatballs.
- Local candy companies make special sweets for Christmas, known as Barley Candy and Chicken Bones.
- Food is the centre of attraction among the people of the Bahamas during Christmas. Some traditional Christmas items include black cake, imported apples and grapes, garlic pork, pepper pot, pickled onions and ham.
- In addition, Christmas drinks are served including ginger beer, sorrel, mauby, sweet potato fly (a fly is a fermented drink), falernum, shandy, rum and wines.
- Christmas in the Bahamas wouldn't be complete without watching the famous Junkanoo parade. The participants wear colorful dresses and dance to the rhythmic accompaniment of the cowbells, drums and whistles.
Here is the website - http://www.theholidayspot.com/christmas/worldxmas/
This is my last post for 2013! It's so much fun writing this blog and sharing my experiences.
I'm excited for new travels next year. I already have planned trips to Los Angeles and Bulgaria, as well as a tentative agenda including Charleston, NYC and New Orleans.
I wish everyone, near and far, a blessed, safe and happy holiday season. Cheers to 2014!