Here in the United States Christians celebrate the birth of Christ by putting up Christmas decorations such as a tree with lights, a nativity scene, and decorations all over the house inside and out. We put presents under the tree to give to children and others.
On Christmas Eve many children are in small nativity plays at church, which helps them to learn about the birth of Christ. Members of the Catholic church go to mass to celebrate Christ's birth.
one of the traditions on Christmas Eve, children, especially boys, often go out
singing 'kalanda' (carols) in the streets. They play drums and triangles as
they sing. Sometimes the will also carry model boats decorated with nuts which
are painted gold. Carrying a boat is a very old custom in the Greece . Greek
If the children sing well, they might be given money, nuts, sweets and dried figs to eat. Christmas trees are starting to become more popular, but they aren't a tradition. Going to a Midnight Mass Service is very important to most Greeks.
During Christmas in
, people like to decorate their houses
with beautiful tropical flowers. A model of the nativity scene, called the
Pasito or Portal, is the center of the display. It's also decorated with
flowers and sometimes fruit. Some of the scenes take a long time to make and
all the family is involved. As well as the traditional figures, people add
other models including houses and lots of different sorts of animals. Costa
Christmas wreaths are made of cypress branches and are decorated with red coffee berries and ribbons. Most homes, shops and important buildings are decorated with Christmas lights. On Christmas Eve everyone dresses up to go to Midnight Mass.
Christmas in Hungry
Christmas Eve is very important and is called 'Szent-este' which means Holy
Evening. People spend the evening with their family and decorate the Christmas
Tree. Sometimes only the adults decorate the tree (without the children there),
so when children come in and see the tree, it's a great surprise and they are
told that angels brought the tree for them! Hungary
The main Christmas meal, which is also eaten on Christmas eve, consists of fish and cabbage and a special kind of poppy bread/cake called 'Beigli'. The Midnight Mass service is very popular in
Most people go to Church after their Christmas meal. Hungary
On Christmas Day people visit their families.
Compared to other religious festivals, Christmas is quite a small festival in
due to the number of people who are Christians (about 2.3%) compared to people
who belong to other religions. The population of India
is over 1 Billion, and there are over 25 million Christians in India ! India
One of the largest Indian Christian Communities is in Mumbai. A lot of the Christians in Mumbai (previously known as
are Roman Catholics. mass is a very important service for Christians in
especially Catholics. The whole family will walk to the mass and this will be
followed by a massive feast of different delicacies, (mostly curries) and the
giving and receiving of presents. Churches in India
are decorated with Poinsettia flowers and candles for the Christmas Eve
Midnight Mass service. India
Instead of having traditional Christmas Trees, a banana or mango tree is decorated (or whatever tree people can find to decorate!). Sometimes people use mango leaves to decorate their homes.
Southern India, Christians often
put small oil burning clay lamps on the flat roofs of their homes to show their
neighbors that Jesus is the light of the world.
In north-west ,
the tribal Christians of the Bhil folk, go out night after night for a week at
Christmas to sing their own carols the whole night through. They go to
surrounding villages singing to people and telling the Christmas story. India
Christmas is a very special time in
and like a lot of other countries, radio stations play carols all through the
Christmas period. Lots of people paint
their houses and hang new curtains and decorations for Christmas. Most families
spend Christmas Day at home with friends and family members. Jamaica
The Christmas day meal is usually prepared on Christmas Eve. The traditional Jamaican Christmas meal include fresh fruits, sorrel and rum punch and meat. The Christmas Day breakfast includes ackee and saltfish, breadfruit, fried plantains, boiled bananas, freshly squeezed fruit juice and tea. Dinner is usually served in the late afternoon and this may include chicken, curry goat, stewed oxtail, rice and peas.
Jamaican red wine and rum fruitcake is traditional and is eaten in most homes. The fruits in the cake are soaked in red wine and white rum for months before Christmas.
December 25th is a public holiday, but it is in memory of Jinnah, the founder
of Pakistan . Like
in Pakistan ,
Christians make up a very small part of the population. But as India
has a population over 162 million people, there are more than 5 millions
Christians! Most Christians in Pakistan
live the country and are quite poor. Pakistan
At Christian festivals, like Christmas and Easter, a big procession takes place, in
from St. Anthony's Church to the Cathedral. It takes hours to reach the Cathedral
for the services. These are then celebrated with lots of enthusiasm! Before and
during Advent, spiritual seminars take place to help people to prepare for
Christmas or 'Bara Din' (which in Urdu and Punjabi means the 'Big Day'). This
expression is very popular, even among Muslims in Lahore . Pakistan
During the last week of Advent, in many Christian areas, carol singing is performed by various groups. They go from house to house singing carols and in return the family offers something to the choir. Mostly the money collected from such carols is used for charity works or is given to the church.
In the big Christian areas, each house is decorated and has a star on the roof. The streets are also decorated and lit. The crib and Christmas tree are also important decorations. Sometimes there are crib competitions! Christians also sometimes exchange Christmas cakes.
On Christmas eve, Churches are packed for the or vigil-mass services. The choirs sing very special hymns. After the vigil-mass, in some places, there are fireworks which help celebrate the start of Bara Din. People dance, exchange presents and enjoy the special night.
On Bara Din or Christmas day, Christians go to Church again for the Bara Din celebrations. People wear their best, colourful clothes. They can stay in the Church courtyard for hours, enjoying various food from the different stalls. The evening is usually celebrated with immediate family or relatives where special food is enjoyed. Adults often visit their parents.
The traditional Christmas greeting in Punjabi is 'Bara Din Mubarrak Ho', which means, 'the blessing of Christmas on you'.
There are more Christians in
Korea ) than in other Asian
countries such as Republic
and China , so
Christmas is celebrated more widely. (Christians make up about 25-30% of the
population.) However, the other 70% of people in Japan are Buddhist (about 25%) or don't have
a religion. South
Christmas is an official public holiday - so some people have the day of work
and school (although for some people it's just another working day or day at school)!
But they go back on the 26th (Boxing Day). There's a longer official winter
break in the New Year. Japan
Churches are decorated with lights and many have a bright red neon cross on top (all the year!) so that goes very well with the Christmas lights! Most churches will have a service on Christmas day. Going to Church for Christmas is becoming more popular, even among non Christians.
In North Korea Christmas is very different. Officially, a person is allowed to be a Christian, but they can be imprisoned or killed for being one. To celebrate Christmas it's done in secret.
Christmas is not widely celebrated in
as not many people there are Christians. However, several customs have come to
Japan from the Japan
such as sending and receiving Christmas Cards and Presents. USA
Christmas in known as more of a time to spread happiness rather than a
religious celebration. Christmas eve is often celebrated more than Christmas
Day. Christmas eve is thought of as a romantic day, in which couples spend
together and exchange presents. In many ways it resembles Valentine's Day
celebrations in the Japan
and the UK . Young
couples like to go for walks to look at the Christmas lights and have a
romantic meal in a restaurant - booking a table on Christmas Eve can be very
difficult as it's so popular! USA
Christmas is not a national holiday in
so schools and businesses are normally open on December 25th. Japan
I hope all of you found this as fascinating as I did. There were many more countries I could have told you about, but I didn't want to overload everyone. If there are countries you are interested in learning about their Christmas traditions go to this link: http://www.whychristmas.com/cultures/
Thank you for reading. Have a great week, and I'll see you next Sunday.
Sandra K. Marshall, Author@Eirelander Publishing