Christmas is…well, Christmas! It is the most widely celebrated festival in the world. So this Christmas set me thinking, how different countries celebrate Christmas differently. Hours of research and this is what I found, to my delight!
U.S. – where one of the largest number of Christians live, celebrates Christmas the classic way. Homes are decorated with lights, Christmas trees and presents exchanged. Special Events, Masses, Carols and the usual..
However in AUSTRALIA Christmas Day falling in summers, we have to make do with fake snow flakes and Santa figurines in Beach clothing! In childrens’ letters to Santa, he wears shorts and a loose brightly colours shirt as opposd to red coat and long white beard. In an unusual tradition a small coin is doused with burning alcohol and put in the Christmas pudding, whoever gets the coin in her or his portion is believed to be endowed with grace and luck!
In MEXICO, people wish each other Feliz Navidad (Merry Christmas), catch up with friends and families and eat leftovers (recalentado) from the day before.
SOUTH AFRICANS prepare a special desert called Malva Pudding, burn Christmas crackers and have a nice hot barbeque out in the sun!
In CHINA, Santa Claus is called Sheng Dan Lao Ren. On Christmas Eve, people gift each other apples wrapped in coloured paper due to the simple reason that Christmas Eve is called Ping An Ye in Chinese and apple is Ping Guo and both these terms are similar!! Another interesting thing is, that most of the Christmas decorations flooded all over the world with the famous “Made in China” tag are nowhere to be found in use in China, because the people actually making these decorations have no idea what or when these are used!
On Christmas eve the youngsters of GREECE go out and sing Kalanda or carols, playing drums and triangles. They also carry small wooden boats decorated with nuts and painted in golden colour as a part of Greek tradition. There is usually no Christmas tree in Greece! Instead families make their own, by suspending a small wire across the rim of a wooden bowl, with basil and a wooden cross hanging on the wire. Cross and basil dipped into holy water and sprinkled around the house is supposed to keep bad spirits at bay, which appear during the 12-day Christmas period and invade the houses through their chimneys!
In GERMANY, trees are secretly decorated by somebody in the family. Also children write letters to the Christkid instead of Santa Claus. This Christkid is a young girl with golden hair and the qualities of Jesus Christ.
If you do not want another lonely-single-ready-to-mingle Christmas, do it the CZECH way. Girls in the Czech Republic, stand with their backs to their doors, and throw a shoe over their shoulders, If it lands on the heel, you are gonna find the man of your dreams very soon!
What Chritmas Turkey is to the rest of the world, KFC’s Finger Lickin’ Good Chicken is to JAPAN. Local restaurants have advanced orders by loyal customers months in advance. Also, the Japanese make a special cake for Christmas. If it is not sold till the 25th, it’s a waste and is possibly thrown away. So popular belief has it that if you are a single Japanese woman over the age of 25- you are a Christmas Cake. :-P
Families in FINLAND, visited the graves of the departed and light candles in their memory. Cemeteries are a sight to behold instead of churches and Christmas trees. Food is left on the table and beds left unoccupied as family members sleep on the ground to provide their deceased relatives a nice quiet meal and a comfortable bed. As most families have their own saunas, it is believed that the spirits visit the saunas too, so after a morning of nice warm bath in the sauna, they are left unoccupied.
In VENEZUALA, people roller skate their way to the Early Morning Mass of Christmas! How cool is that!
In SWEDEN, tall goats made of straw are erected for Christmas, however they always end up in flames courtesy to local vandals looking for adventure. However this hasn’t deterred the townspeople of Gravle, where this tradition is followed from following the tradition from 1966 till today.
Instead of glitter and lights, the UKRAINIAN Christmas trees are err.. decorated with cobwebs! All this owing to the legend of a poor woman who did not have money to decorate her tree, come 25th morning, and she finds her tree covered in cobwebs, however as the sun shone through these web threads, they glittered and turned into gold and silver! So, if you see a cobweb in Ukraine on 25th, man, you are one lucky person!
CANADA boasts of Santa’s own postal code which goes like H0H 0H0 (zeros instead of Os). That is where all the children send their Christmas letters to, and yes they are received and even replied too. How exciting is that?
Lastly in our very own INDIA and Pakistan, “Bara Din” or Christmas is celebrated with equal gung-ho! Whether you say Shubh Krismas, Krismas Mubarak or Shubho Borodin, dude, it’s Christmas! Head to the mall, catch great deals, exchange gifts and stuff your mouth with delicious cakes, everything is fair in love and Christmas! So instead of the rare traditional Christmas tree, we make do with Banana and mango trees! What difference does it make? Call Santa – Baba in Hindi, Natal Bua in Marathi or Papa in Kerela, we are the land of diversity. :D