Christmas Around the World

Christmas+Around+the+World

Anna Bish, Staff Writer

Christmas is the biggest holiday in the U.S. However, what we don’t ever think about is what other countries around the world do for Christmas. Whether they celebrate or not, I’d like to learn more about what they do for the holidays. 

Germany-In some parts of Germany, mainly the south east of the country, children write to the ‘das Christkind/Christkindl’ asking for presents. The letters to Christkind are decorated with sugar glued to the envelope to make them sparkly and attractive to look at. Children leave the letters on the windowsill at the beginning of or during Advent.

China– Only a few people have a Christmas tree. If people do have a tree it is normally a plastic one and might be decorated with paper chains, paper flowers, and paper lanterns. A tradition that’s becoming popular, on Christmas Eve, is giving apples. Many stores have apples wrapped up in colored paper for sale. 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‘. The word for apple in Mandarin is “píngguǒ” (苹果) which sounds like the word for peace.

Costa Rica– People like to decorate their houses with beautiful tropical flowers. A model of the nativity scene, called the Pasito or Portal, is the center of the display.On Christmas Eve, everyone puts on their best clothes and goes to Midnight Mass. In Costa Rica it’s called the ‘Misa de Gallo’ (Mass of the Rooster) During December and into January, there are lots of fiestas, parades, rodeos, street parties, bull runs and choral and dance festivals. On 26th December (Boxing Day) there is an important horseback parade called the ‘Tope’. The next day (27th), many towns and cities have ‘Carnaval’ with a big parade featuring dancing and big floats.

India– Compared to other religious festivals, Christmas is quite a small festival in India, due to the number of people who are Christians (about 2.3%) compared to people who belong to other religions. Instead of having traditional Christmas Trees, a banana or mango tree is decorated (or whatever tree people can find to decorate!). Sometimes people use mango leaves to decorate their homes.On Christmas Eve, Christians in Goa hang out giant paper lanterns, in the shape of stars, between the houses so that the stars float above you as you walk down the road. The main Christmas meal is also eaten on Christmas Eve and is also ‘western’ with roast turkey or chicken being popular. After the meal, Christians head to Church for a Midnight mass service. After the service the church bells ring to announce that Christmas Day has arrived.

Japan-Christmas has only been widely celebrated in Japan for the last few decades. It’s still not seen as a religious holiday or celebration as there aren’t many Christians in Japan. Several customs that came to Japan from the USA such as sending and receiving Christmas Cards and Presents are popular. In Japan, Christmas is known as more of a time to spread happiness rather than a religious celebration. Christmas Eve is often celebrated more than Christmas Day. Christmas Eve is thought of as a romantic day, in which couples spend time together and exchange presents.Fried chicken is often eaten on Christmas day.

All of these traditions are honestly extremely interesting. They’re all different but somehow similar in a way. They all bring people together to celebrate a holiday in their own way.