People in the U.S. have generally celebrated December 25th in fairly common ways: “Santa” brings presents either on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning; families gather for a special meal and exchange gifts. Santa may leave a little something in the stockings of good little boys & girls. Carols are sung, games played & plans for the New Year are made. Our meals usually feature turkey, ham or beef & lots of desserts. Diets go on vacation at this time of year!
In other parts of the world, traditions are a bit different. Santa is called either Father Christmas or St. Nicholas in the United Kingdom, also they celebrate Boxing Day on December 26th. Boxing Day was named for the day that “poor boxes” found in churches were opened and the contents given to the needy. These days Boxing Day mostly means a day of sport as many competitions are held, both professionally and locally.
In Asian countries, especially where snow is present, Winterfests are held with wonderful ice and snow sculptures. Theme parks and special shops are opened up for the celebration.
In Hungary and other European countries, a traditional fish soup or entrée is served along with cabbage rolls and sweet desserts like a poppy seed cake.
Finland and other northern European countries include animals and wildlife in their celebrations by hanging a sheaf of wheat, suet, nuts and fruit outside for wildlife and birds to eat.
In Mexico, families’ hold Posadas; parades and parties that celebrate the journey Mary and Joseph made and finding the manger where Jesus was born. Children traditionally get excited while attempting to knock off the 7 spikes on a candy-filled piñata. The spikes represent the 7 deadly sins.
Christmas in Russia is a very quiet time, as the holiday was banned in 1929. The New Year’s celebration burst on the scene in 1939 with a New Year’s tree, plenty of food and drink. “Grandfather Frost” brings presents to children at this time. (BTW- Christmas was restored on 1991-people were free to celebrate, but to this day, it remains a quiet celebration).
Many countries celebrate Christmas on January 6th or 7th by the Lunar calendar.
There is so much more we can share, but let’s close with some Christmas greetings in a few other languages:
Irish: Nollaig Shona Dhuit
French: Joyeux Noel
Croatian & Bosnian: Sretan Bozic
Chech: Vesele Vanoce
Greek: Kala Chrisrouyenna or Καλά Χριστούγεννα
Hawaiian: Mele Kalikmaka
Hindi: Subh krisamas (शुभ क्रिसमस)
Italian: Buon Natale
Japanese: Meri Kurisumasu (or Meri Kuri for short!)
Swedish: God Jul