Like many people, I grew up with a traditional Christmas: a decorated tree in the living room (with strings of lights that didn’t work until one fiddled with them), stockings on the fireplace filled to the brim on Christmas morning and the traditional turkey dinner. With four children my mother started her Xmas shopping early and made a point of hiding everything. Every year we snooped and every year we failed. Mothers love to outsmart their kids!
But Christmas isn’t celebrated the same everywhere so I’ve decided look at eight spots to see how this fun-filled holiday is celebrated globally.
Many Christmas customs are similar to ones in the U.S. even though it’s summer and very hot in December. Many people like to go to the beach at this time. Children leave a sock near a window and if Papai Noel finds it, he’ll exchange it for a present. “Secret Santa” is very popular for gift giving and Silent Night (Noite Feliz) is a favorite carol. Christmas foods include pork, turkey and ham with rice cooked with raisins.
Christmas has been celebrated in England for over 1,000 years. Mince pies, mulled wine and Christmas pudding are very popular with the British. And a very civilized tradition, namely Boxing Day, takes place on December 26th with a return to normalcy on the 27th. This is a public holiday with no work or school. On the big day itself, the Queen gives her traditional Christmas speech every year.
For many Italians a big Christmas Eve meal “Feast of the Seven Fishes”
consisting of a wide variety of fish, such as: baccala (cod), clams, blue crab, scallops, calamari (squid), sardines, scungilli (conch), eel and pupa (octopus) is a very popular tradition. For the Italians, Merry Christmas is “Buon Natale” and celebrations start eight days before Christmas itself with special prayers and church services.
Presents are exchanged on Christmas Eve. Another tradition is that families light a candle every night from Christmas Eve to New Year’s Day. The most famous custom about this holiday in Norway is the big Christmas tree that Norway gives to the United Kingdom every year as a present to say “thank you” for the help that England gave Norway during World War II. It stands in Trafalgar Square in the middle of London where hundreds come to see it.
In this country, people celebrate Christmas in much the same way as those in the United States and England. However, the day after Christmas, known as St. Stephen’s Day, is very important in Ireland. Holiday food includes a round cake, full of caraway seeds. One is traditionally made for each person in the house. Dinner on the 25th is turkey or spiced beef that can be eaten hot or cold. Dessert is a plum pudding made with rich fruit and whiskey.
“Advent” or “coming” is a big part of Christmas celebrations in Germany. It is observed as a time of waiting or preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas. This year it started on November 27th. In 2017 it will be December 3rd. Germans exchange gifts on Christmas Eve.
Most people in Spain go to midnight mass or “La Misa Del Gallo” with dinner served on Christmas Eve BEFORE the service. It is often turkey stuffed with truffles. After, people walk through the streets carrying torches, because “tonight is the good night and not meant for sleeping”.
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