Christmas traditions around the world

2012-12-21 10:08

Christmas comes but once a year, so be on Santa's good list. You know he'll check it twice, the stingy so and so. And he'll expect cookies in return! So you're not really getting a gift, it's more like a trade. And wait, now he wants hay and carrots. He's on a diet? Nope, turns out he's just visiting a house in Spain. And the straw and carrots are not for him, but for the horses of the three wise men who they believe re-enacts their journey to Bethlehem.

Wait what?

Jip kids, different countries, different Christmas traditions.

Let's start where it all started, in Bethlehem. Every Christmas Eve visitors and locals have a parade to the Church of Nativity. The Church is built on the site where Jesus was born. The parade ends when a figure of Jesus is placed in the church.

In Mexico all the churches are decorated with Poinsettias. It is tradition to take a gift when you visit a Nativity scene in Mexico. In the 17th century a boy named Pablo didn't have a give to take. He took some branches and put them by the Nativity Scene. A light fell on the branches and they each sprouted a Poinsettia.

Mexicans also celebrate Christmas with Los Posadas. It is a parade that re-enacts Joseph and Mary's search for shelter in Bethlehem. It's done over nine days. Every night people dress up as pilgrims and one family in the neighbourhood as innkeepers. They pilgrims go around asking for shelter and are turned away. When they reach the designated house, they are given shelter. They also have a bit of a party afterwards.

In France children out their shoes on front of the fireplace for Pere Noel to fill with presents. Some children receive their presents on 6 December. They also have bad and good list, like in America. But Pere Fouettard is the bad Santa and the only ‘gift' for bad children is a spanking.

After midnight mass on Christmas Eve the French have reveillon - it means to wake up and is symbolic of the spiritual awakening to the meaning of Christ's birthday.

In the South they have Christmas loaf. It is cut in half and can only be eaten after a part has been given to a poor person.

China does not officially celebrate Christmas, although about 1% of the population is Christian. Midnight Mass has become very popular through the years. Christmas trees are called ‘Trees of light' and decorated with paper in the form of lanterns, flowers and chains.

Ethiopians celebrate Christmas on the 7th of January, because they still use the Julian calendar. It is called Ganna. They wear white and go to church. After church the boys play a game similar to hockey, also called ganna.

Twelve days after Ganna, Timkat is celebrated. Timkat celebrates Jesus' baptism and is held over three days.

Farmers in Austria chalk CMB on their stable doors. They believe the initials of the three wise men, Capsar, Melchoir and Balthazar, will protect their herds from illness in the following year.

After Christmas dinner a door is unlocked, and the Christmas tree is revealed to the children for the first time.

Tell us how do you celebrate Christmas?

(Shutterstock)

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