Christmas Around the World

Christmas Around the World

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SHS Students Hannah Sikes (Left) and Alyssa Chester (Right) pose in front of a Christmas tree. Image by Brooke Fritz

On December 25, most American kids are waking up before sunrise to see what they got for Christmas. However, in other parts of the world, different countries have their own unique celebrations and traditions.

England: “MERRY CHRISTMAS!” Pudding is an important aspect of the British Christmas tradition. During the process of making the pudding, the British have a traditional practice of making a wish while mixing the ingredients in a clockwise direction. They believe the only way the wish will come true is stirring in that certain direction.

Italy: “BUON NATALE!” In Italy, there is no Santa Claus. Instead parents tell kids that on December 25 a kindly old witch, La Befana, delivers presents to them. The story says that ‘Le Befana’ will run through the streets of Urbania giving presents to local children.

Ukraine: “Щасливого Різдва!” In Ukraine when decorating Christmas trees, an artificial spider web will be found somewhere in the Christmas tree. A Ukrainian folktale says that there was once a woman that could not afford Christmas decorations for her family. On Christmas morning she woke up to find that spiders had decorated the Christmas tree with webs, and when the morning sun shone on the webs, they appeared to be silver and gold. A spider web found on Ukrainians Christmas trees, Christmas morning, January 7, is believed to bring good luck.

Finland: “HYVÄÄ JOULUA!” On a Finnish Christmas Eve, people traditionally visit saunas. Families gather and listen to the national song, “Peace of Christmas,” that broadcasts on the radio. It is customary to visit the grave sites of departed family members. Santa is known as Joulupukki, which means “Christmas goat.” Traditions say that there was a scary Yule goat going around asking for presents and then Santa took over giving out gifts.

Norway: “GLEDELIG JUL!” In Norway on Christmas Eve, December 24, all the brooms are hidden. The Norwegians have an ancient belief that witches and mischievous spirits come out on Christmas Eve and steal brooms to ride in the skies. Here, Santa Claus is an ancient figure called Julesvenn. On Christmas Eve, he comes around to all the good children giving them gifts. After Christmas day has passed, children indulge in an activity similar to trick-or-treat, going door to door asking for goodies.

Mexico: “FELIZ NAVIDAD!” In Mexico, Christmas is celebrated from December 12 to January 6. From December 16 to Christmas Eve, children perform the “Posada” processions or Posadas. In each of the 9 Posadas, children each get a candle and a board with a painting. They go door-to-door and sing a song about Joseph and Mary asking for a room in the house. If they are told there isn’t room in the house, they will go to another until they are welcomed. When invited in, they will give prayers and thanks and later have a party with games and fireworks. Each night, a different house will hold the party and on the final Posada on Christmas Eve there will be a manger and figures of shepherds that will mark the house that is having the Posada. At night everybody will go to a midnight church service, and afterwards they will have more fireworks and games like Piñatas.

 

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