Do you like Christmas? I love it so much and I think it would be great to see how other countries celebrate this wonderful holiday. I’ve found information about 7 Christmas traditions around the world! Some of these traditions don’t reflect current celebrations of today, but they are quite interesting for you to know.
Bethlehem is the place of the Church of the Nativity, that every year at Christmas ablaze with fascinating flags and decorations! On Christmas Eve, there are many people crowd doorways of the church and stand on the rooftops to see the dramatic annual procession. Christian homes are marked by a cross painted over the door and each house displays a manger scene. In the village square on a pole is set up a star!
2. Czech Republic and Slovakia
In Czech Republic and Slovakia, St. Nicholas is renowned as Svaty Mikalas. Children believe that he comes down from heaven to the earth on a golden rope together with a whip-carrying devil and an angel! A longstanding tradition involves putting cherry branch in some water to bloom and if it blooms in time for Christmas, it’s a sign of good luck and that the winter can be short.
In the Netherlands St. Nicholas is well-known as Sinterklaas. Generally he carries a birch rod and questions kids about their behavior in the past year. Children who have been “obedient” will find in their shoes candy and nuts when they awaken. Dutch children believe that Sinterklaas sails from Spain on his feast day, December 5th. Children leave out sugar and hay for his horses in hopes that Sinterklaas will favor them.
Venezuela has some very strange but interesting traditions! Early in the morning, between December 16th and December 24th, Venezuelans attend a daily morning church service – Misa de Aguinaldo. In the capital city, Caracas, it’s usual to roller-skate to this service! Most neighbourhoods even close the streets to buses and cars until 8 a.m. Here’s the greatest thing about this tradition: before bedtime, kids tie one end of a piece of long string to their big toe and the other end hang out the window. Next morning, roller-skaters give a gently tug to any hanging out string! After Mass, people come home and enjoy coffee and tostadas.
Even in these modern countries the celebration of Christmas is rather traditional – family and friends gather together for seasonal food and drink, children get their presents. Leading up to Christmas in every town and city throughout Scandinavia appear numerous Christmas markets. Santa Claus is believed to be a cross between the Greek saint Nikolaus, whose charity has been the inspiration for today’s Santa Claus, and the garden gnome, who has a strong history in Scandinavia.
Poland has a very interesting tradition called Wigilia, which I found quite charming! On Christmas Eve, the meal cannot begin until appears the first star of the night! It would be interesting to know what they’d do on a cloudy night. When the star appears, oplatek, a special rice wafer, is blessed by the parish priest and is broken into a little pieces and shared by all. Afterwards the meal begins! The feast has 12 courses, one for each Apostle. And there is always one extra seat in case if appear a stranger or the Holy Spirit.
People in Japan didn’t always celebrate Christmas. Christmas was introduced here by Christian missionaries, and for a long time the holiday was celebrated by people who had turned to the Christian faith. Nowadays Christmas in Japan is widely observed. A plenty of stores display appropriate gifts for women, men and children. And Japanese kids never sleep in cradles, so the manger holds a great amount of charm. However, today New Year is more celebrated than Christmas. On New Year’s Eve, Japanese houses are cleaned and everyone dresses in their finest clothes.
Isn’t very interesting to see how other countries celebrate Christmas? Do you know some rare traditions from other countries? Which of these traditions do you find the most attractive? Share your thoughts, please!