Christmas Traditions Around the World

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Christmas Traditions Around the World

Emery Jovel, Features Editor

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Christmas is celebrated throughout America, where we hang up Christmas lights, put decorations on our Christmas tree, have a meal with our family and friends on Christmas Eve, wake up on Christmas, with presents underneath the Christmas Tree. In America, this is how we celebrate our Christmas. But do you ever wonder how Christmas is celebrated in other countries? Well, there are many countries out there in the world that has their own Christmas traditions. But I wanted to share some traditions that occur in Mexico, China, Argentina, Scotland, Canada, and Germany.

In Mexico, Christmas is celebrated from December 12th – January 6th. In between those dates, a tradition occurs where children would perform what’s called ‘Posadas’, which is spanish for Inn or Lodging. There are nine posadas total; each celebrating the story where Joseph and Mary looked for somewhere to stay. During the posadas, the exterior of every household is decorated with evergreens, moss, and paper lanterns. Also, during these posadas, each household has a different posada party each night. At the final posada, which is on Christmas Eve, a manger and clay figures of shepherds are put on a board, along with baby Jesus. Families would often go to midnight Church service where fireworks are held, celebrating the start of Christmas.

Merry Christmas in Chinese is pronounced as ‘’Sheng Dan Kuai Le’ and Santa Claus is referred as ‘Shen Dan Lao Ren’. If you were to go to China during the winter, you’ll see mailmen dressed up in a Santa Claus costume when delivering mail. In China, not a lot of people have Christmas trees or referred as Tree of Light, it is usually plastic and decorated with paper chains, paper flowers, and paper lanterns.

A tradition that is becoming a popular in China is that on Christmas Eve, people would give apples to each other. For this tradition, many stores sell  apples wrapped in color. You’re probably wondering, why apples? Well, the reason why people give each other apples on Christmas Eve is because in Chinese Christmas Eve, it is called ‘Ping’an Ye’, which means peaceful or quiet evening. Another thing that people do in China, is they would go carol singing even though they don’t understand it or know the Christmas story.

In Argentina, a tradition that happens during the holiday season is ‘globos’, which are paper decorations with a light inside of them and they float into the starry, night sky on Christmas Eve, after midnight. Another tradition that some people do is that adults would like to toast, indicating the start of Christmas day.

During Christmas Time in Argentina, houses are decorated with lights and wreaths of green, gold, red, and white flowers. In Argentina, Christmas trees can come in many different colors, other than green, such as white or blue. And on the Christmas Trees, some families would put white cotton balls on them, to represent snow! Some popular Christmas dishes include roasted turkey, roasted pork, goat, stuffed tomatoes, salads, sandwiches and vitel tone which are slices of veal served with creamy anchovy tuna sauce. And to finish off the scrumptious Christmas meal, some popular desserts include bread and pudding like pan dulce (sweetbread), pantone, fruit cakes, ice cream, and pies.

Scotland is a whole different story. Christmas in Scotland has been banned for over 400 years, until the 1950’s. Scotland has very similar traditions like those in the U.S. But there are some traditions in Scotland that seem very unusual. One of these traditions is that children would throw their wish list into the fireplace, where it is believed to go up the chimney and be delivered to Santa Claus so they can get the presents they want. Another tradition in Scotland is that in every household, families would burn Rowan branches for the actual tree because it symbolizes that any bad feelings towards family and friends are put aside for yuletide. And, it is also believed that if a fire goes out on Christmas Eve, the family would suffer bad luck in the coming year.

Some traditional Christmas meals in Scotland include black buns, sun cakes, bannock cakes, spices roast duck, seafood bisque, plum pudding, and mince pies.

In Canada, many canadians open their presents on Christmas Eve, while others open only their stockings on Christmas Eve. Some families pick one present to open on Christmas Eve and save the rest for Christmas day. During winter, when there is snow, skiing, skating, and tobogganing are very popular activities to do for the holidays. A tradition in Canada is to send the biggest and best fir tree to Boston because they assisted in a disaster that is known worldwide as the Halifax explosion.

There are some festivals that take place in Canada for Christmas. One of these is The Santa Claus Parade, takes place in Toronto. It is one of the largest and oldest parades in the world, where it started in 1913 and has been taking place for over 100 years. Another festival is the Snick Tuck Festival where it is celebrated in some parts in Canada, consisting dancing and gift exchanges.

The traditional Christmas meal in Canada is roast turkey, vegetables, and mashed potatoes. Traditional Christmas desserts include plum puddings, mincemeat tarts, Christmas crackers, and a rich fruit Christmas cake.

A big part of Christmas celebrations in Germany is advent which is where several different types of advent calendars are used in German households. Another big part is something called ‘advent kranz’ and it is a ring of fir branches that has four candles on it. Each candle is lit at the beginning of each week in advent. In Germany, Christmas is very important and the mother of the family usually decorates the Christmas tree secretly. Some decorations that are in many households is some wooden frames covered with plastic sheets and with electric candles inside, are put in windows to make the house look pretty from the outside.

Carp or goose is often served as a Christmas meal in Germany and even stollen ( a fruit bread filled with nuts, spices, dried or candied fruit) has become popular to eat during Christmastime.

Some traditions that take place in Germany is that sternsingers or starsingers goes from house to house and sings to collect money for charity. Usually, four children are the singers. Three are dressed up like the Wise Men, while the fourth one carries a star on a stick, symbolizing the star of bethlehem. Another tradition is that in Nurnberg, a young girl with Christ-like qualities is chosen every year in a parade as the ‘Christkind.’ The young girl would wear a long white and gold dress, has long blonde curly hair, and would wear a gold crown. Sometimes the young girl would wear the wings of an angel.

When asked what was her tradition, SAS 7th grader student, America Juarez explains, “Instead of it being like an American family, we don’t open our presents on Christmas morning.  We open them at midnight on Christmas Eve which that’s how Mexican traditions are. Where you open the presents at midnight. We eat tamales, ponche, tamporado, and pozole. We put a big Christmas tree with lots of lights and we decorate it American style.”

Christmas is celebrated all over the world, but not in the same way. Every country has their own Christmas meals, desserts, and unique traditions. So whether Christmas is celebrated in America or in a different country, Christmas is a very important holiday where you eat delicious food, open your presents, but most importantly, to spend it with those you love the most.