People from all over the world celebrate Christmas in so many different ways and you will be quite surprised at the stories behind many of these Christmas traditions.
Did you even know that Christmas Day, the 25th of December, was previously a holiday which can be transferred from one date to another? It was not only in the 4th century AD when Pope Julius I made it official and set December 25th as Christmas Day. This day matched the pagan ritual for the winter solstice also known as the feast for the Return of the Sun. It was meant to reinstate a Christmas celebration in place of the pagan ritual.
As for how the rest of the world celebrates Christmas, here they are.
France - Christmas in France is known as Noel drawn from the French expression “les bonnes nouvelles” which means “the good news” and denotes the gospel. Based on the French belief that farmers who burn a log from Christmas Eve to New Year’s Day have an abundant harvest the following year, some families are burning a log from their homes.
Germany - Christmas in Germany are characterized by Christmas trees dating back as far as the 16th century. They quickly spread all over the world and then to England when Queen Victoria’s husband, Albert came from Germany and brought this tradition.
Norway – After the family dinner and opening of the presents, Norwegians hide their brooms in accordance to the belief that witches and other spirits will come out during Christmas Eve and steal their brooms. Another Christmas custom in Norway is to gather the finest wheat from the harvest, put away until Christmas and then attached these to poles from branches. The head of the household checks this just before sunset and if there are sparrows seen to be consuming this is seen to be an indication of a good year for crops.
Philippines – Even 200 years before the arrival of Ferdinand Magellan and Christianity, historical accounts have determined that people are already holding Christmas festivities.
Poland – Polish families also prepare a twelve course dinner for Christmas Eve however unlike the Ukrainians, this feast is composed of twelve non-meat dishes which stand for the twelve months of the year. Most dishes include specialties of carp, herring, and other fish.
Ukraine - Households prepare stew with meat the day before Christmas. They also set up a twelve course Christmas dinner. The youngest child in the family is tasked to look out the window and watch for the evening star to come out, the sign for the banquet to begin.
United Kingdom - Mince pies in the UK is a long standing tradition dating back to the 16th century. Children usually leave a drink and mince pies for Santa while there is a also a tradition that eating mince pies during the Twelve Days of Christmas will bring about happiness in the next 12 months. On average, the British eat 27 mince pies each.
United States - In the US, children leave stockings during Christmas and set aside a glass of milk and a plate of cookies for Santa just before going to be bed on Christmas Eve. It is typical of the American household to have a Christmas. The official national Christmas tree is a giant sequoia which stands over 90 meters (300 feet) high in the King’s Canyon National Park in California.
Each country has unique Christmas customs and beliefs. The world may be a large place but when the Yuletide season comes around there is a feeling of renewed hope and a special sense of togetherness which transcends not only to families, fellow countrymen but to the whole world itself. Christmas season is a special celebration which we look forward throughout the year.
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