How Christmas is Celebrated Around the World

Christmas and winter holidays are celebrated on an international level. It seems as if the main traditions of the Christmas season are the same, but each country adds their own twist onto the special day. Likewise, they do have one thing in common: most, if not all, celebrate Christmas or a variation of the holiday on December 25. One major difference throughout the countries is how each culture receives their gifts and the duration of this tradition. In fact, each tradition has comparabilities and differences throughout the world which makes this time of year so magical.

First, Christmas in Italy is known as Novena. It starts eight days before Christmas and festivities continue for three weeks. The week of Christmas, children go from house to house playing instruments and reciting Christmas poems while they are dressed as shepherds. They are given money to buy presents for their parents. In some parts of the country, shepherds bring musical instruments into the towns to join into the festive events while they sing Christmas carols. They also celebrate a traditional Christmas meal on Christmas Eve.

In addition, presents and empty boxes are taken from the “Um of Fate,’ which provides one gift for each person. At midnight, the children gather around the festivities to recite their poems, but they won’t receive their presents until January 6. Presents are delivered by Befana, a witch that flies around on a broomstick and fills the childrens’ stockings and shoes with presents. Similarly, she leaves coal for those children who were bad.

Christmas in China focuses more on the children than on anything else of the holiday. It depends whether or not the child is a Christian. For instance, Christian children of China decorate trees with ornaments which may be made in shapes of paper, chains or lanterns. In addition, they hang stocking which will be filled with gifts and treats on Christmas morning. Likewise, they know the American Santa as “Christmas Old Man” or, in Chinese, “Dun Che Lao Ren.”

In contrast, the non-Christian children take a different approach to this holiday and celebrate a spring festival. They celebrate it with a delicious meal and visit grave sites to pay respect to their ancestors. Similar to Christian children, these non-Christian children are the main focus of the festivities. It’s during the spring festival they receive such things as new clothes or toys, while also watching fireworks displays.

In Holland, St. Nicholas arrives for the Christmas season during November. He dresses in Bishop’s clothes and uses a boat to travel throughout the country to see the children. His assistant, Black Peter, wears Spanish clothes. Legend says Black Peter and St. Nicholas spend most of the year documenting the children’s behavior in a big book, while they prepare a list of presents. In addition, St. Nicholas rides on a white horse throughout Holland’s parades during the holiday.

Traditionally, Dutch children leave their wooden shoes filled with hay and carrots for St. Nicholas’ horse. St. Nicholas and Black Peter take the hay and carrots and fill the shoes with presents on December 5, known as Sinterklaas Eve. During the Christmas season, Holland farmers blow long horns at sunset. This tradition represents the coming of Christmas. It’s done by water wells and exports a loud sound. Christmas Day is spent at church, while afterward the family gathers to admire the Christmas tree and sing Christmas songs.

The people of Scotland celebrate Hogmanay, which takes place on New Year’s Day. Christmas Day celebrations resemble much of the same traditions as they do in the United States. For instance, children prepare lists to Santa. They leave out a glass of milk or whiskey for Santa to enjoy after he fills the Christmas tree with presents. The children also leave a carrot for the reindeer. The parents buy the presents for the children, clean and prepare the festivities for the season. Christmas Day is also a big day of celebration. This is when the Scots prepare big bonfires, play the bagpipes and dance around.

Finally, Nisse is the mischievous elf of the holiday season in Denmark. He is said to live in farmhouses and enjoys playing pranks. Nisse dresses in gray woolen clothes, a red bonnet and stockings, and white clogs. In order to keep this prankster within reasonable limits, families leave him pudding and porridge. Nisse is said to be good to the children of Denmark. He is kind and helpful in the sense that he helps on the farms.

Christmas is a time of festivities around the country. It begins on Christmas Eve with an almond being hid in the rice pudding. Whoever finds the almond wins a prize. They also have delicious foods such as goose, browned potatoes and cake. The Christmas tree is secretly decorated by the parents, which they decorate with wood and baubles. In addition, children are not permitted to see the tree until Christmas Eve when the families gather to recite Christmas poems and sing hymns. Christmas is the most popular holiday in Denmark; celebrations go on throughout the night.





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