*CHRISTMAS IN THE WORLD*
In South Africa, is a summer holiday. In December, the southern summer brings glorious days of sunshine that carry an irresistible invitation to the beaches, the rivers, and the shaded mountain slopes. Then the South African holiday season reaches its height. Schools are closed, and camping is the order of the day. In South Africa there is no snow, but it has many flowers, many beautiful varieties of cultivated and wild flowers being in their full pride. In the cities and towns carolers make their rounds on Christmas
Eve. Church services are held on Christmas morning. Christmas Eve celebrations in larger centers include "Carols by Candlelight" and special screen and floor shows.
Homes are decorated with pine branches, and all have the decorated Christmas fir in a corner, with presents for the children around. At bedtime on Christmas Eve, children may also hang up their stockings for presents from Father Christmas. Many South Africans have a Christmas dinner in the open-air lunch. For many more, it is the traditional dinner of either turkey, roast beef, mince pies, or suckling pig, yellow rice with raisins, vegetables, and plum pudding, crackers, paper hats, and all. In the afternoon, families go out into the country and usually there are games or bathing in the warm sunshine, and then home in the cool of the evening. Boxing Day is also a proclaimed public holiday usually spent in the open air. It falls on December 26 and is a day of real relaxation.
In Ghana, on Africa's west coast, most churches herald the coming of Christmas by decorating the church and homes beginning with the first week in Advent, four weeks
before Christmas. This season happens to coincide with the cocoa harvest, so it is a time of wealth. Everyone returns home from wherever they might be such as farms or
mines. On the eve of Christmas, children march up and down the streets singing Christmas Carols and shouting "Christ is coming, Christ is coming! He is near!" in their
language. In the evening, people flock to churches which have been decorated with Christmas evergreens or palm trees massed with candles. Hymns are sung and Nativity plays are presented.
On the west coast of Africa, in Liberia, most homes have an oil palm for a Christmas tree, which is decorated with bells. On Christmas morning, people are woken up by
carols. Presents such as cotton cloth, soap, sweets, pencils, and books are exchanged. Also in the morning a church service is held in which the Christmas scene is
enacted and hymns and carols are sung. Dinner is eaten outdoors with everyone sitting in a circle to share the meal of rice, beef and biscuits. Games are played in the
afternoon, and at night fireworks light up the sky.
In Alaska, most Alaskan Christians celebrate Christmas on December 25th, just as people do in the continent of the US. Santa Claus may arrive for a pre-Christmas visit,
but, food, gift giving, and decorations are like what you might see in Texas or Wisconsin. The songs sang at each home include Aleut words Gristuusaaq suu'uq, or Christ is
born. Everyone joins in the closing words, Mnogaya leta, or god grant you many years. At the end of the carols the host provides carolers with maple-frosted doughnuts,
cookies, candy, piruk, or fish pie, and sometimes smoked salmon. In Alaska children wander from house to house carrying a colored star on a long pole, and singing carols.
In United State, Santa Claus was born in US in the 1860's he was named this as he had a white beard and a belly, so he was named Santa Claus as this was the Dutch
word for St Nicholas, Sintaklaas. Although the Dutch had bought him with them in the 17th century, he did not become an important person at Christmas until the Novelist
Washington Irving put him in a novel that he wrote in 1809. This first Santa Claus was still known as St. Nicholas, he did smoke a pipe, and fly around in a wagon without
any reindeer, but he did not have his red suit or live at the North Pole, he did however bring presents to children every year. In 1863 He was given the name Santa Claus and
bore the red suit, pipe, and his reindeer and sleigh. Now Christmas celebrations vary greatly between regions of the United States, because of the variety of nationalities
which have settled in it. In Pennsylvania, the Moravians build a landscape, called a putz - under the Christmas tree, while in the same state the Germans are given gifts by
Belsnickle, who taps them with his switch if they have misbehaved. Early European settlers brought many traditions to the United States. Many settled in the early days in
the South, these settlers would send Christmas greetings to their distant neighbors by shooting firearms and letting off fireworks. In Hawaii this practice is still in use as
under the sunny skies, Santa Claus arrives by boat and Christmas dinner is eaten outdoors. In Alaska, a star on a pole is taken from door to door, followed by Herod's Men,
who try to capture the star. Colonial doorways are often decorated with pineapple, a symbol of hospitality. In Alaska, boys and girls with lanterns on poles carry a large
figure of a star from door to door. They sing carols and are invited in for supper. In Washington D.C., a huge, spectacular tree with Christmas ornaments is lit ceremoniously
when the President presses a button and turns on the tree's lights. In Boston, carol singing festivities are famous. The singers are accompanied by hand bells. In New
Orleans, a huge ox is paraded around the streets decorated with holly and with ribbons tied to its horns. In Arizona, the Mexican ritual called Las Posadas is kept up. This
is a ritual procession and play representing the search of Mary and Joseph for a room at the inn. Families play the parts and visit each other's houses enacting and
re-enacting the drama and, at the same time, having a look at each family's crib. In Hawaii, Christmas starts with the coming of the Christmas Tree Ship, which is a ship
bringing a great load of Christmas fare. Santa Claus also arrives by boat. In California, Santa Claus sweeps in on a surf board. In America the traditional Christmas dinner is
roast turkey with vegetables and sauces. For dessert it is rich, fruity Christmas pudding with brandy sauce. Mince pies, pastry cases filled with a mixture of chopped dried
fruit. The majority of Americans celebrate Christmas with the exchange of gifts and greetings and with family visits. For many, the day begins on Christmas Eve with the
Midnight Mass. At Christmas it snows in many states, so dinner is usually eaten indoors. Dinner usually is roast turkey, goose, duck or ham served with cranberry sauce,
then plum pudding or pumpkin pie followed by nuts and fruit. American homes are decorated with holly, mistletoe and branches of trees, most have a Christmas tree hung
with electric lights, tinsel, baubles, and strings of popcorn and candy canes. In Colorado, an enormous star is placed on the mountain, it can be seen for many kilometers
around, while in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, a star is lit in early December. Polish Americans on Christmas Eve spread hay on their kitchen floor and under the tablecloth to
remind them of a stable and a manger. When they make up the table for dinner two extra places are set up for Mary and the Christ Child in case they should knock at the
door to ask for shelter. In Philadelphia, a procession called a mummers parade runs for a whole day with bands, dancers and people in fancy dress. There are two homes for
Santa Claus in the United States one is in Torrington, Connecticut, where Santa and his helpers give out presents. The other home is in Wilmington, New York, where a
village for Santa and his reindeer is located. In Arizona they follow the Mexican traditions called Las Posadas. Families play out the parts of Mary and Joseph searching for
somewhere to stay. They form a procession and visit their friends' and neighbors' homes where they admire each family's Nativity crib. In parts of New Mexico, people place
lighted candles in paper bags filled with sand on streets and rooftops to light the way for the Christ Child.
In Argentina. People go to the church with family, then come back to a family gathering. At midnight after eating they toast, then the adults' dance while younger people go
out to see the fireworks. After this they go to sleep, but not before they open the presents under the Christmas tree. That day is very special for because they are Christian
and celebrate Jesus' birth on the 24th of December. The dinner food is pork, turkey, and a great variety of meals. Then the table is covered with sweet things, cider, beer,
and juice for consuming while waiting for the time of the toast. After the toast all the family chat, others play. Houses are decorated with red and white garlands; on the door
Father Christmas's Boots are placed. The Christmas tree is decorated with colored lights, ornaments and Father Christmas placed on top of it. Mothers make different kinds
of meals such as roasted turkey, roasted pork, stuffed tomatoes, mince pies, Christmas's bread and puddings. The toast: drink prepared with different kinds of fruit which is
cut into pieces, then it is mixed with juice and cider.
In Australia. Christmas in Australia is often very hot. Whereas the northern hemisphere is in the middle of winter, Australians are baking in summer heat. It is not unusual to
have Christmas Day well into the mid 30 degrees Celsius, or near 100 degrees Fahrenheit. A traditional meal includes a turkey dinner, with ham, and pork. A flaming
Christmas plum pudding is added for dessert. In the Australian gold rushes, Christmas puddings often contained a gold nugget. Today a small favor is baked inside.
Whoever finds this knows s/he will enjoy good luck. Another treat is Mince Pies. Some Australians and particularly tourists often have their Christmas dinner at midday on a
local beach, Bondi Beach in Sydney's Eastern Suburbs attracts thousands of people on Christmas Day. Other families enjoy their day by having a picnic. If they are at
home, the day is punctuated by swimming in a pool, playing Cricket out the backyard, and other outdoor activities. The warm weather allows Australians to enjoy a tradition
which commenced in 1937. Carols by Candlelight is held every year on Christmas Eve, where tens of thousands of people gather in the city of Melbourne to sing their
favorite Christmas songs. The evening is lit by as many candles singing under a clean cut night sky. The sky with its Southern Cross stars is like a mirror. Sydney and the
other capital cities also enjoy Carols in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Australians surround themselves with Christmas Bush, a native plant which has little red flowered
leaves. Christmas shopping is often done in shorts and t-shirts. At many beaches Santa Claus arrives on a surfboard, or even on a surf lifesaving boat.
In Austria, the feast of St Nicholas marks the beginning of Christmas in Austria. The saint accompanied by the devil asks children for a list of their good and bad deeds.
Good children are given sweets, toys and nuts. Gifts that are placed under the tree are opened after dinner on Christmas Eve. Brass instruments play chorale music room
church steeples, and carol singers, carrying blazing torches and a manger from house to house, gather on the church steps. Silent Night was first sung in 1818, in the
village church of Oberndorf. There is a story told of how Christmas was almost spoiled for the villagers that year. On Christmas Eve, the priest went into the church and found
that the organ was not working. The leather bellows that are used to pump the air through the pipes were full of holes. Christmas without music would not do so the priest
showed the organist Franz Xaver Gruber a new Christmas hymn he had written. Franz quickly composed a tune for it that could be played on a guitar. So Oberndorf had
music after all. In Austria baked carp is served for the traditional Christmas dinner. December 6 in Austria is when Heiliger Nikolaus or St. Nicholas, rewards good children
with sweets, nuts and apples. On December 24, the Christ Child brings presents and the Christmas tree for the children. The children wait until they hear a bell tinkling.
Then they enter a special room where the Christmas tree is waiting all decorated with candles, ornaments and candies. The whole family sings Christmas carols and wishes each other:
In Belgium, there are two Santa Claus figures. There is St. Niklaas and Pere Noel. Pere Noel visits those who speak the Walloon language, in fact he visits them twice. The
first time is on the December 4th he does this so he can find out which children have been good and which children have been bad. If a child is good he returns on December
6th with the presents the good children deserve if they were bad they are left twigs. The good children usually received candy and toys. With the bad children he leaves the
twigs inside their shoes or in small baskets that are left just inside the doorway. Pere Noel visits those who speak French. He visits with his companion Pere Fouettard and
asks about whether the children have been good or bad. If they have been good they receive chocolates and candies if they have been bad they are more likely to receive a
handful of sticks. Christmas for both gift-givers is on December 6th, the feast of St Nicholas, it is a religious occasion and is observed with services in churches and quiet
family gatherings. Special cakes are baked and served during the holiday season and are a treat for children and adults. The other part is called "Flemish" where they are
Dutch speaking. They are visited by St Niklaas, they are in the North half of the country. St-Nicholas doesn't have anything to do with Christmas. It's His Birthday on
December 6th, and then he visits all children to bring them presents. And then there is Christmas, December 25. The day Jesus Christ was born. The last years the
American tradition around Christmas is coming over here. By movies and storybooks. Now Children get gifts under the Christmas tree also. But this isn't the same
everywhere. But it mostly depends on the parents. At some family, they buy gifts for each other and put them under the tree. There's no Santa to bring them. In others,
mostly when there are still li'l children it's Santa who brings the gifts and puts them under the tree.
In Bethlehem, the town where Jesus is said to have been born is the site of the Church of the Nativity, which is ablaze with flags and decorations on every Christmas. On
Christmas Eve natives and visitors alike crowd the church's doorways and stand on the roof to watch for the dramatic annual procession. Galloping horsemen and police
mounted on Arabian horses lead the parade. They are followed by solitary horseman carrying a cross and sitting astride a coal-black steed, then comes the churchmen and
government officials. The procession solemnly enters the doors and places an ancient effigy of the Holy Child in the Church. Deep winding stairs lead to a grotto where
visitors find a silver star marking the site of the birth of Jesus. Christian homes in Bethlehem are marked by a cross painted over the door and each home displays a
homemade manger scene. A star is set up on a pole in the village square.
In Brazil. Brazilians are a mix of different ethnic people, and as a former Portuguese colony, they have many Christmas customs which originate from this heritage. One
tradition is to create a nativity scene or Presépio. The word originates from the Hebrew word "presepium" which means the bed of straw upon which Jesus first slept in
Bethlehem. The Presépio is common in northeastern Brazil. Nowadays presépios are set up in December and displayed in churches, homes, and stores. Papai Noel or
Father Noel is the gift-bringer in Brazil. According to legend, he lives in Greenland. When he arrives in Brazil, he usually wears silk clothing due to the summer heat. A huge
Christmas dinner includes turkey, ham, colored rice, and wonderful vegetables and fruit dishes. Devout Catholics often attend Midnight Mass or Missa do Galo. The mass
has this name because the rooster announces the coming day and the Missa do Galo finishes at 1 AM on Christmas morning! On December 25th, Catholics go to church,
but the masses are mostly late afternoon, because people enjoy sleeping late after the dinner called Ceia de Natal or going to the beach. Decorations include fresh flowers
picked from the garden. Fireworks go off in the skies over the cites and huge Christmas "trees" of electric lights can be seen against the night skies in major cities such as
Brasilia, San Paolo, and Rio de Janeiro. In Brazil there is folk dancing and singing and the festivities go on until January 6th, which the Brazilians refer to as Three Kings
Day. January 6th is supposed to be the day when three wise men visited Jesus to bring him gifts.
In Bulgaria. Christmas Eve is as important as Christmas day in Bulgaria. A special diner, consisting of at least twelve dishes is prepared. All of them are without meat and
each of them represents a separate month of the year. The dishes consist of beans, different kinds of nuts, dried plums, cakes, and the traditional Banitza. On this day the
whole family gathers, eat on straw and get off the table in the same time. In the past Christmas was celebrated differently. There were boys and non-married young men who
were visiting the houses, singing songs for wealth and health for the hosts. They were rewarded with money, food and so on. They were bringing long sticks to put kravai
which are round breads with holes in them. They were called Rkoledaris. In the houses the families gathered sitting on the ground or on dry grass and eating meatless food.
There were 7 or 12 meals: wine, Rakia , sarmy and so on. There always was a huge round bread where all the cattle, the house and things like that were carved.
In Canada. Christmas celebrations are quite similar in the variety to America. In Canada the traditional Christmas dinner is roast turkey with vegetables and sauces. For
dessert it is rich, fruity Christmas pudding with brandy sauce. Mince pies, pastry cases filled with a mixture of chopped dried fruit. In Quebec they display Crèches or nativity
scenes in their homes as the Christmas decorations. After attending midnight mass, families may be served tourtiere or pork pie. Another favorite food is Boulettes or small
meatballs. A Christmas banquet is called a reveillon. Masked mummers are a Christmas tradition from Newfoundland. In some provinces, a big winter festival, called Sinck
tuck, is celebrated by the Eskimos, with dancing and a present-giving party. In Labrador, turnips are saved from the summer harvest and are given to children, with a lighted
candle pushed into a hollowed out hole. In Nova Scotia, a country settled by Scottish highlanders, songs and carols brought from Britain two centuries ago are sung each
Christmas morning. Also in Nova Scotia, during the twelve days of Christmas small groups of belsnicklers, or masked mummers, appear in neighborhoods, ringing bells,
making noise, seeking candy or other treats. The hosts may try to guess who the mummers are and if they guess right the mummer removes his or her disguise and stops
making rude noises and actions. Children may be quizzed by the mummers on their behavior if they say they have been good they are rewarded with candy.
In China. The Christian children of China decorate trees with colorful ornaments. These ornaments are made from paper in the shapes of flowers, chains and lanterns. They
also hang muslin stockings hoping that Christmas Old Man will fill them with gifts and treats. The Chinese Christmas trees are called "Trees of Light." Santa Claus is called
Dun Che Lao Ren which means "Christmas Old Man.". The non-Christian Chinese call this season the Spring Festival and celebrate with many festivities that include
delicious meals and pay respects to their ancestors. The children are the main focus of these celebrations, they receive new clothes and toys, eat delectable food and
watch firecrackers displays.
In Czech Republic. Celebrations for Christmas begin with the visit of St. Nicholas on December 6th and end with the visit of the Three Kings. In Czech Republic, St. Nicholas
is called Svaty Mikalas and is believed to climb to earth down from heaven on a golden rope along with his companions: an angel and a whip-carrying devil. In Czech
Republic, a girl can tell her future, it is said that according to tradition, by putting a cherry twig in water on December 4th. If the twig blossoms before Christmas Eve, the girl
will marry sometime during the year. The famous King Wenceslas of the Christmas Carol was a real King in this country. His goodness and his beliefs in Christianity
infuriated his mother, and his brother murdered him on the Church steps. Before he died he asked for God's mercy for his brother's evil act. He became the patron saint of
Czech Republic. Christmas is a quiet and peaceful religious time here. They fast for one day, and have baked carp for Christmas dinner. St Nicholas visits, and brings good
children gifts, and for those children who are bad, the devil is said to come with switches.At midnight, most families go to Holy Mass or Pasterka as it is known. On
Christmas Day, the churches are filled with evergreens and Christmas Trees. Celebrations go on for three days. Czechs eat a soup made of cod roe and tempt each other
with tales of a mythical golden pig.
In Denmark. Christmas in Denmark is supposed to be when a mischievous elf called Nisse can have his fun. He is said to live in the lofts of old farmhouses and enjoys
playing jokes. He wears gray woolen clothes, a red bonnet, red stockings and white clogs. Families leave him a bowl of rice pudding or porridge on Christmas Eve to keep
his jokes within limits. Usually though he is kind and helpful helping out on the farms and being especially good to the children. Christmas Eve dinner begins with rice
pudding that holds a magic almond inside. Whoever finds the almond receives a prize. They then have goose, red cabbage and browned potatoes. After that lots of pastries.
and cakes. The Danish tradition is the Christmas plate. This was a tradition in the early days where rich Danes gave plates biscuits and fruit as presents to their servants.
These plates were the nicest and best kind and were not used for everyday use, this is the reason why they became so collectable. They take much pride making their own
decorations with bright paper, bits of wood and straw. The parents secretly decorate the tree, and children are not permitted to see the tree until dinner on Christmas Eve.
The tree is then lit up and families gather around to sing carols and hymns. Each Sunday in Advent, guests are invited to join in the lighting of the candles on the Advent
crown. Adults drink a warming mixture of red wine, spices and raisins, and children drink a sweet fruit juice, like strawberry. Everybody eats small cakes of batter which
have been cooked over the fire in a special pan, and dusted with icing sugar. In Denmark Christmas Eve is a special time. It is at this time parents secretly decorate the
Christmas tree with home made wood and straw baubles. The children are only able to see the tree before dinner when it is lit up and the family gathers to sing carols and
hymns. In Denmark Christmas Eve is called Juleaften and is the biggest occasion of the year. Parties go on all night, with traditional prune-stuffed roast goose, red cabbage,
fried pastries, and cinnamon-laced rice pudding called Grod. The Christmas elves called Julenisse are appeased with rice pudding, and dishes of seeds are placed outdoors for wild birds.
In Egypt. The Coptic Church is an Orthodox Church and in the Coptic Church Christmas is celebrated on the 7th January. Advent is observed for forty days and during this
period people are expected to fast eating no meat, poultry or dairy products. Some people only do this during the last week of Advent. On the Eve of Christmas everyone
goes to church wearing a completely new outfit. The Christmas service ends at midnight with the ringing of church bells, then people go home to eat a special Christmas
meal known as fata, which consists of bread, rice, garlic and boiled meat. On Christmas morning people in Egypt visit friends and neighbors. They take with them kaik which
is a type of shortbread, which they take with them to give to the people they visit and eaten with a drink known as shortbat. Christmas Day is a public holiday for Christians.
In England. The English enjoy beautiful Christmas music. They love to decorate Christmas Trees and hang up evergreen branches. One England's customs is mummering.
In the Middle Ages, people called mummers put on masks and acted out Christmas plays. These plays are still performed in towns and villages. The English gift giver is
called Father Christmas. He wears a long red or green robe, and leaves presents in stockings on Christmas Eve. However, the gifts are not usually opened until the following
afternoon. Christmas in England began in AD 596, when St Augustine landed on her shores with monks who wanted to bring Christianity to the Anglo Saxons. Father
Christmas delivers them during the night before Christmas. The Children leave an empty stocking or pillowcase hanging at the end of the bed. In the morning they hope it will
be full of presents. In England the day after Christmas is called Boxing Day because boys used to go round collecting money in clay boxes. When the boxes were full, they
broke them open. In England Christmas dinner was usually eaten at Midday on December 25, during daylight. In England, the only thing that people ate one the day before
the feast was Frumenty, which is, was a kind of porridge made from corn. Over the years the recipe changed. Eggs, fruit, spice, lumps of meat and dried plums were added.
The whole mixture was wrapped in a cloth and boiled. This is how plum pudding began. In England the traditional Christmas dinner is roast turkey with vegetables and
sauces. For dessert it is rich, fruity Christmas pudding with brandy sauce. Mince pies, pastry cases filled with a mixture of chopped dried fruit. In England also they elect
Boy Bishops in commemoration of St. Nicholas compassion for children. These mock bishops were allowed to do the duties of the ecclesiastic except deliver the Mass.
In Finland. Everybody's house is given a very good clean in readiness for Christmas. Hours are spent in the kitchen cooking and baking special treats for the festive season.
Fir trees are felled, tied onto sleds, and taken home to be decorated. A sheaf of grain is often tied to a pole, together with nuts and seeds and placed in the garden for the
birds. Many of the peasants will not eat their Christmas dinner until the birds have had their dinner. The meal was begun as soon as the first star appeared in the sky.
In Finland the Christmas tree is set up on Christmas Eve. Apples and other fruits, candies, paper flags, cotton and tinsel are used as decorations, and candles are used for
lighting it. The Christmas festivities are preceded by a visit to the famous steam baths, after which everyone dressed in clean clothes in preparation for the Christmas dinner,
which is served at 5-7 in the evening. Christmas gifts may be given out before or after the dinner. The children do not hang up stockings, but Santa Claus comes in person,
often accompanied by as many as half a dozen Christmas elves to distribute the presents. The main dish of the dinner is boiled codfish served snowy white and fluffy, with
allspice, boiled potatoes, and cream sauce. The dried cod has been soaked for a week in a lye solution, then in clear water to soften it to the right texture. Also on the menu
is roast suckling pig or a roasted fresh ham, mashed potatoes, and vegetables. After dinner the children go to bed while the older people stay up to chat with visitors and
drink coffee until about midnight.
In France. On Christmas Eve, children leave their shoes by the fireplace to be filled with gifts from Pere Noel. In the morning they also find that sweets, fruit, nuts and small
toys have been hung on the tree. In cathedral squares, the story of Christ's birth is re-enacted by both players and puppets. Nearly every French home at Christmastime
displays a Nativity scene or crèche, which serves as the focus for the Christmas celebration. The crèche is often peopled with little clay figures called santons or "little
saints." In addition to the usual Holy Family, shepherds, and Magi, the craftsmen also produce figures in the form of local dignitaries and characters. The craftsmanship
involved in creating the gaily colored santons is quite astounding and the molds have been passed from generation to generation since the seventeenth century. Throughout
December the figures are sold at annual Christmas fairs in Marseille and Aix. The Christmas tree has never been particularly popular in France, and though the use of the
Yule log has faded, the French make a traditional Yule log-shaped cake called the buche de Nol, which means "Christmas Log." The cake, among other food in great
abundance is served at the grand feast of the season, which is called le reveillon. Le reveillon is a very late supper held after midnight mass on Christmas Eve. The menu for
the meal varies according to regional culinary tradition. In Alsace, goose is the main course, in Burgundy it is turkey with chestnuts, and the Parisians feast upon oysters
and pat de foie gras. Le Revellion may consist of poultry, ham, salads, cake, fruit and wine. In Southern France, a log is burned in people's homes from Christmas Eve until
New Years Day. A long time ago, part of the log was used to make the wedge for the plough as good luck for the coming harvest. The traditional Christmas is a chocolate
log. In France families once had a Three Kings Cake with a bean hidden in it. Whoever found the bean in their slice was made King, or Queen, for the day. In France the
children go out to look for the Kings, taking gifts of hay for the camels. Another name for this day is Twelfth Day. It is the last of the Twelve Days of Christmas, which used
to be one long holiday. It was the last night of the Feast of Fools before the Lord of Misrule had to give up his crown and become themselves once again. In France it is a
time for the whole family to come together at Christmas time to holiday and worship. On the eve of Christmas beautifully lit churches and cathedrals, ring out Christmas
carols with the church bells. Once dinner is over and the family has retired to bed, they leave a fire burning and food and drink on the table in case the Virgin Mary calls in.
Children leave their shoes or wooden clogs called sabots in the hearth for the Christ Child or Pere Noel to fill. In the north of France, children are given gifts on December 6,
which is St. Nicholas' Day, instead of Christmas Day. The adults give each others presents on New Year's Day.
In Germany. Christmas preparations often begin on the eve of December 6th. People often set aside special evenings for baking spiced cakes and cookies, and making gifts
and decorations. Little dolls of fruit are traditional Christmas toys. Children leave letters on their windowsills for Christkind, a winged figure dressed in white robes and a
golden crown who distributes gifts. Sometimes the letters are decorated with glue and sprinkled with sugar to make them sparkle. Germans make beautiful gingerbread
houses and cookies. The German Christmas tree pastry, Christbaumgeback, is a white dough that can be molded into shapes and baked for tree decorations. In parts of
Germany, people believe that the Christ Child sends a messenger in Christmas Eve. He appears as an angel in a white robe and crown, bearing gifts. The angel is called
Christkind. There is also a Christmas Eve figure called Weihnachtsmann or Christmas Man, he looks like Santa Claus and also brings gifts. Some homes in Germany have
several Christmas trees, and in all towns across Germany, they can be seen glittering and glowing. In Germany they hang up advent wreaths of Holly with four red candles in
the center. They light one candle each Sunday and last on Christmas Eve. Children count the days until Christmas using an Advent calendar. They open one window each
day and find a Christmas picture inside. In Germany the traditional visitor is the Christkindl who is the Christ Child's messenger. She is a beautiful fair-haired girl with a
shining crown of candles who visits each house with a basket of presents. In some homes a room is locked up before Christmas. On Christmas Eve the children go to bed
but are woken up at midnight by their parents and taken down to the locked room. The door is opened and they see the tree all lit up, with piles of parcels on little tables.
In Greece. St. Nicholas is important in Greece as the patron saint of sailors. According to Greek tradition, his clothes are drenched with brine, his beard drips with seawater,
and his face is covered with perspiration because he has been working hard against the waves to reach sinking ships and rescue them from the angry sea. Greek ships
never leave port without some sort of St. Nicholas icon on board. On Christmas Eve small boys to the beating of drums and the tinkling of triangles usually sing carols. They
go from house to house and are given dried figs, almonds, walnuts and lots of sweets or sometimes small gifts. After 40 days of fasting, the Christmas feast is looked
forward to with great anticipation by adults and children alike. Pigs are slaughtered and on almost every table are loaves of christopsomo or "Christ Bread". This bread is
made in large sweet loaves of various shapes and the crusts are engraved and decorated in some way that reflects the family's profession. Christmas trees are not
commonly used in Greece. In almost every home the main symbol of the season is a shallow wooden bowl with a piece of wire is suspended across the rim; from that hangs
a sprig of basil wrapped around a wooden cross. A small amount of water is kept in the bowl to keep the basil alive and fresh. Once a day, a family member, usually the
mother, dips the cross and basil into some holy water and uses it to sprinkle water in each room of the house. This ritual is believed to keep the Killantzaroi away from the
house. There is a tradition kallikantzeri, where the mischievous goblins appear from the earth during the 12 days of Christmas. At Christmas very few presents are given to
each other. Instead, small gifts are given to hospitals and orphanages. Priests sometimes go from house to house sprinkling holy water around to get rid of the bad spirits
who may be hiding in people's houses. In most Greek homes an evergreen tree is decorated with tinsel and a star placed on top. Gifts are exchanged on January 1st, St
Basil's Day. On Christmas Eve, groups of people gather around the holiday table. Figs, dried on rooftops are served with the spicy golden Chrisopsomo bread.
In Holland. St Nicholas arrives early in Holland with his gifts, in November. He is dressed in Bishop's robes and journeys in a boat with his helper who is called Black Peter
and who wears Spanish clothes. It is said that the pair live most of the year preparing lists of presents and writing every child's behavior in a very large book. Many people go
to Amsterdam docks to greet him. He mounts a snow horse and rides through the streets in a great parade, amid many festivities. December 5th is Sinterklaas Eve or
Sinterklass Eve, and presents are given and received. Farmers in Holland blow long horns at sunset each evening during the Christmas period. The horns are blown over
water wells which makes the sound extremely loud. This is done to announce the coming of Christmas. All Dutch children know that Sinterklaas or Sinterklass lived in
Spain, where he spends his time recording the behavior of all the children in his little red book, while Piet stocks up on the presents. Christmas Day is a religious time, and
the day is spent with visits to Church. In the afternoon, people sit around the tree, sing carols and tell stories.
In Hungary the main Christmas celebrations take place on Christmas Eve. The evening is called Szent-este or Holy Evening. Before attending Midnight Mass, families gather
around the Christmas tree to sing carols and open the presents left by Baby Jesus and the angels. A couple of weeks before Christmas, on December 6th the children
receive a visit from Mikulas or St Nicholas. He arrives wearing the robes of a bishop, with a red miter on his head, a staff in one hand and a sack full of small presents in the
other. Accompanying him a "Devil" boy in a black costume, complete with horns and long tail. He holds a switch made of dry twigs, ready to smack any "naughty" children.
Each child receives a small gift, usually a toy or sweets, from Mikulas. The presenting of nativity plays is an important part of the Hungarian Christmas tradition. Performed
by groups of children or adults, these plays are often combined with puppets and are accompanied by songs and musical instruments and sometimes even dancing.
In India. Christians in India decorate banana or mango trees. They also light small oil-burning lamps as Christmas decorations and fill their churches with red flowers. They
give presents to family members and baksheesh, or charity, to the poor people. In India, the poinsettia is in flower and so the churches are decorated with this brilliant bloom
for the Christmas Midnight Mass. In South India, Christians put small clay lamps on the rooftops and walls of their houses at Christmas, just as the Hindus do during their
festival called Diwali.
In Ireland. Christmas in Ireland lasts from Christmas Eve to the feast of the Epiphany on January 6, which is referred to as Little Christmas. Ireland's Christmas is more
religious than a time of fun. Lighted candles are placed in windows on Christmas Eve, as a guide that Joseph and Mary might be looking for shelter. The candles are usually
red in color, and decorated with sprigs of holly. Irish women bake a seed cake for each person in the house. They also make three puddings, one for each day of the
Epiphany such as Christmas, New Year's Day and the Twelfth Night. After the Christmas evening meal, bread and milk are left out and the door unlatched as a symbol of
hospitality. St Stephen's Day, the day after Christmas, is almost as important, with football matches and meetings going on. For children, the Wren Boys Procession is
their big event. Boys go from door to door with a fake wren on a stick, singing, with violins, accordions, harmonicas and horns to accompany them. The reason for the
ceremony is to ask for money 'for the starving wren', that is, for their own pockets. Children often put out Christmas sacks instead of stockings. It is tradition to leave mince
pies and a bottle of Guinness out as a snack for Santa.
In Italy. The Christmas season in Italy goes for three weeks, starting 8 days before Christmas known as the Novena. During this period, children go from house to house
reciting Christmas poems and singing. In some parts shepherds bring musical instruments into the villages, play and sing Christmas songs. In the week before Christmas
children go from house to house dressed as shepherds, playing pipes, singing and reciting Christmas poems. They are given money to buy presents. A strict feast is
observed for 24 hours before Christmas Eve, and is followed by a celebration meal, in which a light Milanese cake called panettone features as well as chocolate. Presents
and empty boxes, are drawn from the Urn of Fate - lucky dip, which always contains one gift per person. By twilight, candles are lighted around the family crib known as the
Presepio, prayers are said, and children recite poems. At noon on Christmas Day the pope gives his blessing to crowds gathered in the huge Vatican square. In Italy the
children wait until Epiphany, January 6, for their presents. According to tradition, the presents are delivered by a kind ugly witch called Befana on a broomstick. It was said
that she was told by the three kings that the baby Jesus was born, she was busy and delayed visiting the baby. She missed the Star lost her way and has been flying
around ever since, leaving presents at every house with children in case he is there. She slides down chimneys, and fills stockings and shoes with good things for good
children and it is said leaves coal for children who are not so good.
In Japan. Only 1 per cent of Japanese people believe in Christ. Even so, most Japanese people decorate their stores and homes with evergreens during Christmas. They
enjoy giving each other gifts, and this is the part they celebrate. They have a Buddhist monk called Hotei-osho who acts like Santa Claus. He brings presents to each house
and leaves them for the children. Some think he has eyes in the back of his head, so children try to behave like he is nearby. Among the Christian Japanese Christmas is
not a day for the family. They do not have turkey or plum pudding, rather than that the day is spent doing nice things for others especially those who are sick in hospitals.
Christmas for those in Sunday schools is the happiest day of the year. On Christmas Eve or Christmas night, the children put on programs that last for hours, they sing,
they recite and they put on a drama of the day Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Most children may not like Hotei-osho so they may receive their presents from Santa who
goes around with a red-nosed reindeer.
In Malta. A Maltese Christmas traditionally is centered on the crib or presepju. The child's version of the church crib is called grolta. Everywhere had at least one crib,
varying in size and detail. The crib figures are called pasturi and represent Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, the shepherds, angels, villagers and animals such as cows, donkeys
and sheep. The Cribs are surrounded by lights and plants.
Midnight mass on Christmas Eve is the climax of all religious activities. The whole family attends and everyone wears new clothes. The mass begins with choirs singing
carols in Maltese. The highlight of the mass is the reading of a story of the nativity by a ten-year-old boy. After Mass it is customary to greet Il-Milied It-Taijeb which is
Happy Christmas, to all who attend.
In Mexico. Mexicans share many traditions with the Spanish. Their main Christmas celebration is called La Posada, which is a religious procession that reenacts the search
for shelter by Joseph and Mary before the birth of Jesus. During the procession, the celebrants go from house to house carrying the images of Mary and Joseph looking for
shelter. Santa Claus is not predominant, but the bright red suit is represented in the traditional flower of the season. This flower is the poinsettia, which has a brilliant red
star-shaped bloom. It is believed that a young boy walking to the church to see the nativity scene showing the birth of Jesus had realized on the way that he had no gift to
offer the Christ child so he gathered up some plain green branches as he walked in he was laughed at but upon placing the branches near the manger they started to bloom
a bright red poinsettia flower on each branch. The Mexican children receive gifts. On Christmas day they are blindfolded and taken to try and break a decorated clay piñata
that dangles and swings at the end of a rope. Once the piñata has been broken, the children clamber to recover the candy that was inside the piñata. Those children who
have been good also on January 6th receive a gift from the Three Wise Men. Mexicans attend a midnight mass service which is called la Misa Del Gallo or "the rooster's
mass," and at the mass they sing lullabies to Jesus.
In the Netherlands the Dutch eagerly await December 5th for it is on this day that they celebrate the coming of Sinterklaas Avond or St. Nicholas eve, whose legends of
generosity and kindness are well known. On December 6th they celebrate with family doings, after which everyone settles down to prepare for Christmas Day on December
25th and secondly for December 26th or New Year and Three Kings Day on January 6th. Each has its on celebration. In the Netherlands St. Nicholas is known as
Sinterklaas. Dutch children are told that he sails from Spain on his feast day, December 5. They fill their shoes with hay and sugar for his horse and awake to find them filled
with gifts such as nuts and candy. Sometimes Sinterklaas appears in person in the children's homes, bearing a striking resemblance to the children's father or an uncle. He
questions the children about their behavior during the past year. In the past he carried a birch rod, but these days he is more kindly. The people of Twente in east Holland
hold a special Advent ceremony in which special horns are blown to chase away evil spirits and to announce the birth of Christ. Horns are homemade out of one-year-old
saplings and are three or four feet long. Blown over wells, they sound a deep tone, similar to a foghorn.
In New Zealand Christmas is combined with summer holidays, so as well as present-buying and parties, families are preparing for trips to the beach. Shops are decorated
with Father Christmas in his red cloak and white beard, as well as snow scenes. The New Zealand traditions of Christmas have mostly come through the English settlers
who began arriving their in the late 18th Century. In the last 20 or 30 years the persona of Father Christmas had changed and he is referred to as Santa Claus and has
become much more like the Santa of the United States and Ireland. As well people have been forced to change as a result of the Maori culture. The spirits and creatures of
the Maori culture resemble the elves and gnomes of European Christmas traditions. They celebrate the story of the birth of Jesus Christ with a special service, which is
appropriate to New Zealanders way of life as they had no motels, and they have many shepherds who take care of their flocks, in doing so they can see the true meaning of
Christmas. In New Zealand the traditional Christmas dinner is roast turkey with vegetables and sauces. For dessert it is rich, fruity Christmas pudding with brandy sauce.
Mince pies, pastry cases filled with a mixture of chopped dried fruit.
In Latin American. Christmas in Latin America known as Las Posadas, Navidad and Dia de los Tres Reyes. Throughout the season are a lot of bright flowers and brilliant
nights. They celebrate with holiday foods, songs. Those songs and foods eaten are greatly influenced by the different indigenous people of the region but all share the strong
Latin influence dating from the arrival of Roman Catholicism hundreds of year’s ago. Christmas is very much a religious holiday centered around the age-old story of the
Nacimiento, Christ's Child.
In Norway. Norwegian children always remember a little gnome Nisse at Christmastime. He guards all the farm animals, and he plays tricks on the children if they forget to
place a bowl of special porridge for him. Norway has its gift-bearing little gnome or elf. Known as Julebukk or "Christmas buck," he appears as a goat-like creature. Julebukk
harkens back to Viking times when pagans worshipped Thor and his goat. During pagan celebrations a person dressed in a goatskin, carrying a goat head, would burst in
upon the party and during the course of evening would "die" and return to life. During the early Christian era, the goat began to take the form of the devil, and would appear
during times of wild merry-making and jubilation. By the end of the Middle Ages, the game was forbidden by the Church and the state. In more recent times the goat has
emerged in the tamer form of Julebukk. A favorite holiday cookie is called a sand kager is made by mixing 2 cups of butter and sugar, 4 cups of flour, and 1 cup of chopped
almonds. This pressed into a tin, baked until golden brown, and cut into squares. In the dark afternoons, in the Viking tradition, children go from house to house asking for
goodies. Norwegians eat lye-treated codfish, and wash it down with boiled potatoes, rice porridge, gingerbread, and punch. Norwegians are very close to the North Pole, and
they strongly hope for the magic of snow for the holydays! Christmas in Norway begins with the Saint Lucia ceremony on the 13 December. At the crack of dawn, the
youngest daughter from each family puts on a white robe with a sash, a crown with evergreens and tall-lighted candles, accompanied by the other children, the boys dressed
as star boys in long white shirts and pointed hats. They wake their parents, and serve them coffee and Lucia buns, lussekatter. The custom goes back to a Christian virgin,
Lucia, martyred for her beliefs at Syracuse in the fourth century. The Saint Lucia ceremony is fairly recent, but it represents the traditional thanksgiving for the return of the
sun. The Christmas tree, juletre, spruce or pine tree usually, are often decorated with candles, apples, red harts, cornets, straw ornaments, balls of glass and tinsels, all
depending on what you like. The homes have a scent of resin, hyacinths, red tulips, spices and tangerines. Some children, especially in the country still believe in and
remember a little gnome or elf, fjøsnissen at Christmas time. He is told to guard all the farm animals, and he plays tricks if the children forget to place a bowl of special rice
porridge, risengrynsgrøt, in the barn or outside for him. This is old superstition. Norwegians also love to eat this porridge on the 23 December, lillejulaften, and then it holds a
magic almond inside. The one who finds it gets a prize. Some eat the rice porridge for lunch on the 24th. Perhaps in the evening they have some gløgg, it is a spicy drink
(you can add some red wine if you like), with raisins and chopped almonds. Julaften, on the 24 December, a lot of people go to church service before they gather at home
around the table for a nice Christmas Eve dinner. The dinner can consist of a rib with a good crackling, ribbe, (served with "cabbage à la norvégienne", surkaal, potatoes,
carrots, cauliflower, sprouts, prunes and brown sauce), salted and dried ribs of mutton, pinnekjoett, (served with potatoes, carrots and mashed swedes), or lye-treated
codfish, lutefisk (served with potatoes, bacon and pea stew). For dessert: rice blended with whipped cream served with a red sauce, riskrem, caramel pudding, cherry
mousse, or whipped cream blended with multer (orange, wonderful berries found on the mountain - looks like rasberries). In the evening Santa Claus, julenissen, arrives with
gifts. Often it is snowing. In the days between Christmas and New Years Eve, romjulen, the children sometimes go from house to house in the afternoon asking for sweets,
this tradition is called "Christmas buck", julebukk. The tradition harkens back to the Viking times when pagans worshipped Thor and his goat, but just a few children keep up
the tradition today. On Christmas Day a lot of people have a big brunch at noon or dinner in the afternoon for friends and family. It is done the Italian way and can last for
several wonderful hours! Traditional cakes and cookies made at Christmas can be julekake (with raisins), kryddekake, delfiakake, rosettbakels, fattigmann, smultringer,
goro, silkekaker, pepperkaker, kokosmakroner. Different nuts, fruits, figs, dates and sweets also belong to the celebration.
In Philippines. The only Asian nation in which Christianity is the religion chosen by the people. Christmas celebrations start nine days before Christmas with a mass known
as Misa de Gallo. At this mass the story behind the birth of Christ is read from the Bible. The Panunuluyan pageant is held each Eve. A couple is chosen to re-enact Joseph
and Mary's search for shelter. Mass is held hourly on Christmas Day so that everyone can attend. Religious services include pastore, or play, based on myth of the birth of
the Christ Child. The pastore closes with a star from the upper part of the church sliding down a wire and coming to rest over the church's Nativity scene. Christmas
celebrations may have evolved from old tribal customs mixed with other influences. Serenading cumbancheros, or strolling minstrels, end their performances by singing
Maligayang Pasko to the tune of "Happy Birthday". Carolyn Mathews, Texas As part of my people's traditions, the children also go around their neighborhood and sing
carols to each household. Sometimes, they get money, sometimes they get fed. The money they get, they use to buy gifts for themselves or loved ones. We also have the
unique tradition of making 3-D "parols" or star lanterns made from thin strips of bamboo and covered in colored thin plastic film to symbolize the guiding star that the three
wise men followed to find Jesus Christ; it is also the Filipinos' way of inviting the spirit of Christ into their home- it is to mentally reverse the notion of "no room at the inn".
The star symbolize the willingness of each home to "house" the baby Jesus. Also, most Filipino grandparents gather their grandchildren on Christmas Eve or Christmas
Day, after church and they toss coins in the middle as extra gifts and wishes of prosperity for the new year. In more affluent households, it is traditional to serve all kinds of
food as a form of Thanksgiving to all that Jesus Christ embodied with the traditional lechon or roast suckling pig and pansit (noodles) as centerpieces. Christmas time is also
the best time to enjoy all kinds of fireworks. We also have the noche buena or the meal served at midnight. Traditionally, it is for after the family comes back from the
In Poland. Traditionally, Advent is an important season in the Polish year, with special church services, known as Roraty, being held every morning at 6am. The four
Sundays of Advent are said to represent the 4,000 years of waiting for Christ. During Advent and, in some homes, on Christmas Eve, bees wax or plain wax is poured on
water, and fortunes are told from the shapes which emerge. Special tasks carried out during Advent are the baking of the Christmas piernik or honey cake, and the making
of Christmas decorations. Pierniki are made in a great variety of shapes, including hearts, animals and St Nicholas figures. Traditional decorations include the pajaki, which
are handmade mobiles, stars and decorated egg shells. Pajaki are traditional decorations, rather lots of bomb lets, colorful paper chains and lots of electric lights. Beautifully
lit Christmas trees are placed in all public arenas, outside churches and in homes. Traditionally the trees are decorated with shiny apples, gift walnuts, beautifully wrapped
chocolate shapes and many homemade decorations and candles. On the top of the tree is a star or a glittering top piece. In many homes, sparklers are hung on the
branches of the trees giving it a magical air. Sometimes the trees are left standing until February 2nd, the feast day of St Mary of the Candle of Lightning. During Advent, the
Gwiadorze or star carriers or carol singers, used to begin wandering through the towns and villages and this would continue until Epiphany. Some of the Gwiadorze sang
carols, others recited verses or put on Szopke or puppet show, or herody or nativity scenes. The last two customs are developments from traditional manger scenes or
Jaselka or crib. Christmas Eve, Wigilia, is an important part of the Polish Christmas, in fact, the most important rituals are celebrated on this day. A traditional food found in
Poland is Oplatek which is a piece of bread pressed with a holy picture on the surface. Oplatek is more symbolic than real food. We celebrate with at least 12 different
vegetarian dishes like: mushroom soup, carp, cabbage with pea, stuffed dumplings, and shells macaroni with poppy "makielki". In some homes - some hay is put under the
tablecloth (it is connected with Christ's manger). People once carried these oplatek from house to house and wish their neighbors a Merry Christmas. Nowadays, the bread
is mostly shared with members of the family and immediate neighbors. As each person shares the bread, they would have to do two things: forgive any hurts that have
occurred over the past year and to wish the person all the happiness in the coming year.
In Portugal. In Portugal the tradition of gift-giving was defined mostly by the strong Christian religious beliefs of the people. Children await the coming of the Three Wise Men
during Christmas time. On the eve of January 5th children place their shoes along windowsills and doorways and fill them with carrots and straw. They do this hoping that
this will lure the wise men's horses to their houses during the night and that they will find their shoes packed with gifts and treats in the morning. The treats left is more likely
to be candied fruits and sweet breads. They do not recognize the red suit of most traditions as the person who brings gifts, but, gifts are a big part of the many Christmas
celebrations. The Christmas Feast of the Immaculate Conception and the Feast of the Holy Innocents both involve the sharing of gifts. They have a feast known as the
consoda which takes place on the morning of Christmas Day. They set extra places at the table for the souls of the dead. They give a gift of food to these souls and hope
that by doing so the fortunes of the next year will be good. The Portuguese "Christmas log," or cepo de Natal, is a piece of oak that burns on the hearth all through the day
while people enjoy a lingering consoda. Tradition Submitted by Alda Moreira who says traditions are incorrect. The children receive the presents at midnight of 24/25
December or early in 25 th December morning, but never on 5th January. They put the shoes near the fireplace as a receptacle for the presents and not at the window. We
recognize the red suite; the children believe in Santa Claus (called "Pai Natal" - wich means: Father Christmas) and the parents tell them that is the baby Jesus who helps
Santa with the presents, ( not the Three wise men...). The most part of family set up a Nativity scene (called Presépio), with Mary, Joseph, the cow and the donkey, the
three wise men, and lots of other figures The figure of the Christ Child is added to the scene after the family attends Midnight Mass or after midnight....But everybody have a
Christmas tree too; the typical colours are the gold, red and green. The Christmas Feast of the Immaculate Conception and the Feast of the Holy Innocents do not involve
the sharing of gifts. The consoada is the reunion of the family, until they wait for the coming of Father Christmas at midnight and takes place on the dinner of 24 th
December/Christmas Eve, not in the morning of 25. There are families who reserve an empty place for the persons who died, but it doesn't happen very often. During the
consoada we dinner (boiled codfish and Portuguese sprouts (in pure olive oil) normally) and then everybody puts lots of desserts in the table and typical plates (rice pudding
with cinamon, "rabandas"-seems like french toast, "filhoses"-fried desserts, "broas de mel" (pastries made with honey) “Sonhos” -pumpkin fritters ) Another very traditional
desert is the "Bolo Rei" (King's cake) "which is a wreath-like very rich fruit cake laced with crystallized fruits and pine nuts." There is a little present inside the cake and a
broadbean-who find the broadbean in one slice, must pay the next “King Cake”. At midnight, there are also families who attend to the church for a special Midnight Mass,
called "Missa do galo"-"Rooster’s Mass", but it happens more in the interior, who are more religious. During the Christmas day Portuguese people visit the friends and family
and have a big lunch normally with roast chicken, lamb or turkey.
In Russia the religious festival of Christmas is being replaced by the Festival of Winter but there are some traditions that are still kept up in some parts of the country.
In the traditional Russian Christmas, special prayers are said and people fast, sometimes for 39 days, until January 6th Christmas Eve, when the first evening star in
appears in the sky. Then begins a twelve course supper in honor of each of the twelve apostles - fish, beet soup or Borsch, cabbage stuffed with millet, cooked dried fruit and
much more. Hay is spread on the floors and tables to encourage horse feed to grow in the coming year and people make clucking noises to encourage their hens to lay
eggs. On Christmas Day, hymns and carols are sung. People gather in churches which have been decorated with the usual Christmas trees or Yelka, flowers and colored
lights. Christmas dinner includes a variety of different meats - goose and suckling pig are favorites. Babushka is a traditional Christmas figure who distributes presents to
children. Her name means grandmother and the legend is told that she declined to go with the wise men to see Jesus because of the cold weather. However, she regretted
not going and set off to try and catch up, filling her basket with presents. She never found Jesus, and that is why she visits each house, leaving toys for good children. The
role of Father Christmas was played by Dedushka Moroz or Grandfather Christmas. Babushka is a traditional Christmas figure who distributes presents to children.
In Scandinavia a little gnome called Julenisse puts the presents under the Christmas tree in the night. The children leave a bowl of porridge out for him.
It is from Scandinavia that most of our Yule log traditions derive. The dark cold winters inspired the development of traditions concerned with warmth and light. Yuletide,
meaning "the turning of the sun" or the winter solstice, has traditionally been a time of extreme importance in Scandinavia. For a long time, it was considered dangerous to
sleep alone on Christmas Eve. The extended family, master and servant, alike would sleep together on a freshly spread bed of straw. The Yule log was originally an entire
tree, carefully chosen, and brought into the house with great ceremony. The butt end would be place into the hearth while the rest of the tree stuck out into the room. The
tree would be slowly fed into the fire and the entire process was carefully timed to last the entire Yule season. In Scandinavia an important part of Christmas is the candles.
It is said that the presents are brought by gnomes who live in the attics of houses all the year round.
In Scottland. The Scottish people have their big celebrations on New Year's Eve, called Hogmanay. A long time ago there is a superstition that it is bad luck for the fire to go
out on Christmas Eve, since it is at this time that the elves are abroad and only a raging fire will keep them from coming down the chimney.
On Christmas day, people sometimes make big bonfires and dance around them to the playing of bagpipes. Bannock cakes made of oatmeal are traditionally eaten at
Christmas. In Scotland, Christmas had traditionally been celebrated very quietly, because the Church of Scotland - the Presbyterian Church - has never placed any great
emphasis on the Christmas festival, However, the Scots who are members of the Church of England or other churches generally celebrate Christmas in the same way as the
English people, however because some people who disapproved of Christmas for they believed that there was too much riotous festivity that went on. Nowadays these things
are held at Hogmanay, but they do celebrate Christmas with some very interesting customs.
In Spain it is a very festive time at Christmas. On Christmas Eve, as the stars come out, tiny oil lamps are lit in every house, and after Midnight Mass and Christmas Dinner,
streets fill with dancers and onlookers. There is a special Christmas dance called the Jota and the words and music have been handed down for hundreds of years. They
dance to the sound of guitars and castanets. Children think of the Three Wise Man as the gift bearers. Tradition has it that they arrive on January 6th, the date the Wise Men
gave gifts to Jesus. Shoes are filled with straw or barley for the tired camels that must carry their riders through the busy night. By morning the camel food is gone and in
place of the straw or barley are presents. Shoes also may be placed on balconies on the night of the 6th January in the hope that the Wise Men will fill them with gifts. Most
homes have a manger, like cathedrals and churches. These are complete with carved figures. During the weeks before Christmas, families gather around their manger to
sing, whilst children play tambourines and dance. The Spanish especially honor the cow at Christmas because it is thought that when Mary gave birth to Jesus the cow in
the stable breathed on the Baby Jesus to keep him warm. Christmas is a deeply religious holiday in Spain. The country's patron saint is the Virgin Mary and the Christmas
season officially begins December 8, the feast of the Immaculate Conception. It is celebrated each year in front of the great Gothic cathedral in Seville with a ceremony
called los Seises or the "dance of six." Oddly, the elaborate ritual dance is now performed by not six but ten elaborately costumed boys. It is a series of precise movements
and gestures and is said to be quite moving and beautiful. Christmas Eve is known as Nochebuena or "the Good Night." It is a time for family members to gather together to
rejoice and feast around the Nativity scenes that are present in nearly every home. A traditional Christmas treat is turron, a kind of almond candy. December 28 is the feast
of the Holy Innocents. Young boys of a town or village light bonfires and one of them acts as the mayor who orders townspeople to perform civic chores such as sweeping
the streets. Refusal to comply results in fines which are used to pay for the celebration. The children of Spain receive gifts on the feast of the Epiphany. The Magi are
particularly revered in Spain. It is believed that they travel through the countryside reenacting their journey to Bethlehem every year at this time. Children leave their shoes on
the windowsills and fill them with straw, carrots, and barley or the horses of the Wise Men. Their favorite is Balthazar who rides a donkey and is the one believed to leave the
gifts. The Spanish Christmas is Navidad, people go to church, exchange presents, and many play on swing sets set up especially for the occasion. Swinging at solstice
time evokes an ancient desire to encourage the sun, urging it to "swing" ever higher in the sky.
In Sweden. Christmas begins in Sweden with the Saint Lucia ceremony. Before dawn on the morning of 13 December, the youngest daughter from each family puts on a
white robe with a red sash. She wears a crown of evergreens with tall-lighted candles attached to it. She wakes her parents, and serves them with coffee and Lucia buns.
The other children accompany her. The boys dressed as star boys in long white shirts and pointed hats. The custom goes back to Lucia, a Christian virgin martyred for her
beliefs at Syracuse in the fourth century. The Saint Lucia ceremony is fairly recent, but it represents the traditional thanksgiving for the return of the sun. Often she is
followed by star boys, who wear pointed hats, and carry star wands. Candle-lit processions to Church feature Scandinavian Christmases, where, in the home, it is mother
who always lights the candles on Christmas Eve. Christmas trees are usually found in Swedish homes two days before Christmas. Decoration may include candles, apples,
Swedish flags, small gnomes wearing red tasseled caps, straw ornaments. The houses may filled with red tulips and smell like pepparkakor, which is a heart-star, or
goat-shaped gingerbread biscuit. Swedish Julafton, or Christmas Eve dinner may be a smorgasbord, or buffet with julskinka, or Christmas ham, pickled pigs feet,lutfisk, or
dried codfish, and many different kinds of sweets. Risgryngrot a special rice porridge, has hidden in it an almond which as tradition has it the person who finds the almond in
his or her bowl will marry in the coming year. Christmas trees are usually brought into Swedish homes one or two days before Christmas. Decorations include: candles,
apples, Swedish flags, small gnomes and tasseled caps, and straw ornaments. The house may be filled with red tulips and the smell of pepparkakor - a heart-star, or
goat-shaped gingerbread biscuits. After Christmas Eve dinner, a friend or family member dresses up as tomte or Christmas gnome. The tomte, unlike Santa Claus is
supposed to live under the floorboards of the house or barn and ride a straw goat. The make-believe tomte, wearing a white beard and dressed in red robes, distributes gifts
from his sack. Many are given with funny rhyme that hints at the contents. Swedes eat lye-treated codfish and welcome the Christmas elves and the julbok which is the
Christmas goat, who is responsible for the distributing of the presents. In Sweden Jultomten, a little brownie helps Santa Claus give gifts to the children who have been good.
In Switzerland. A tinkling of a silver bell heralds the arrival of Christkindli - a white clad angel, with a face veil held in place by a jeweled crown. The tree candles are lit as she
enters each house and hands out presents from the basket held by her child helpers. The week before Christmas, children dress up and visit homes with small gifts. Bell
ringing has become a tradition, and each village competes with the next when calling people to midnight mass. After the service, families gather to share huge homemade
doughnuts called ringli and hot chocolate. In Switzerland, the Chlausjagen Festival or Feast of St. Nichohlas is celebrated at dusk on 6 December with a procession of
"lifeltrager' wearing gigantic illuminated lanterns in the shape of a Bishop's mitre on their heads. The Swiss wait for the Christ child called Christkindli, to arrive with gifts for
all in his reindeer-drawn sleigh. In Switzerland, during the holiday season the Star Singers or Sternsingers dressed as the Three Kings parade through the streets of cities
and towns singing Christmas songs. In Zurich, Santa visits in a special fairytale tram and gives the children a ride through the city, singing songs with them and sharing a basket full of sweets.
In Venezuela on December 16th families bring out their pesebres which is a specially designed and thought out depiction of the nativity scene. It is a custom to attend at
one of nine carol services is observed by most Venezuelans. Firecrackers explode and bells ring to call worshippers from bed in the predawn hours. The last of the masses
takes place on Nochebuena de Navidad Christmas Eve. Families attend a mass on this night and then return home to a huge and fancy dinner. On January 6th when the
children awaken they will discover that the straw that they had left beside their bed the night before has gone and in its place are gifts the children know that the Magi and
their camels have been and when they go to look in the mirror if they have a black smudge on their cheek they know that Balthazar, King of the Ethiopians has kissed them
whilst they slept.
In Vietnam. Traditional Vietnamese religions are Buddhism and the Chinese philosophies of Taoism and Confucianism. However, during French rule, many people became
Christians. Christmas is one of the four must important festivals of the Vietnamese year, they being the birthday of Buddha, the New Year and the mid-autumn festival.
Although the Christians observed the religious rituals of Christmas. On Christmas Eve the Christians would attend a midnight Mass. After Church people would return to their
homes for the most important meal the Christmas supper. The dinner usually consisted of chicken soup, and wealthier people ate turkey and Christmas Pudding. The
European customs of Santa Claus and the Christmas tree were popular and children would leave their shoes out on Christmas Eve.
In walles. The Welsh are great lovers of music and so every year at Christmas, carol singing is the most enjoyed activity. In the churches, they are sung to the harp. They
are sung in people's homes around the Christmas tree and at the doors and windows of the houses. Caroling is called eisteddfodde and is often accompanied by a harp. In
some rural areas a villager is chosen to be the Mari llwyd. This person travels around the town draped in white and carrying a horse's skull on a long pole. Anyone given the
"bite" by the horse's jaws must pay a fine. Christmas is spent with lots of people gathering in the public square for the announcement of who, during the year, has won the
prize for submitting the best music for a new carol, and the formal pronouncement of it as the carol of the year. This carol is now added to those already known and sung in
Wales. Taffy making is one of the most important of the Welsh Christmas. This involves the making of the special kind of chewy toffee from brown sugar and butter. It is
boiled and then pulled so that it becomes lovely and glossy. The Christmas goose is also essential. The Welsh people maintain most of the traditional customs associated
with England such as holly, mistletoe, pudding, carols, Christmas stockings, oranges, crackers and lots of snow. The carolers make their rounds at dawn on Christmas
morning, and families wake from sleep and ask them in for refreshments.
In Peru. Those of us from the Northern Hemisphere probably associate Christmas with pine trees, mistletoe and, oh yeah, cold weather. However, for those countries located
below the equator, the holiday occurs right at the start of the summer season. Peru is one of the countries that have the luck to be able to celebrate this holiday in mild
temperatures. The differences don't stop there as much of the way in which Peruvians celebrate Christmas is unique, especially when it comes to what foods they eat.
"Noche Buena" Traditions in PeruThe festivities don't begin on the 25th, but rather on the night of the 24th which is called Noche Buena (Good Night). Some choose to
attend the "misa de gallo" (rooster mass) at 10 pm, while others choose to remain at home before the clock strikes 12. Once midnight comes, families make a toast
(typically with champagne) in honor of the birth of Jesus, as well as have wished family, friends and neighbors a merry Christmas. They then gather for a bountiful feast. The
most popular entrée of the evening is the tamal: a steam-cooked corn meal dough, wrapped in banana leaves. The corn meal is typically filled with chicken or pork, along
with olives, peanuts, pieces of chili pepper or boiled eggs. Tamales exist all over Latin and Central America. However, the Peruvian tamale tends to be spicier and larger.
Like many other countries, Peru also has a large, juicy turkey as the star for Christmas dinner. The turkey is seasoned with condiments found in many Peruvian dishes
(salt, pepper, aji panca), but with the addition of an apple inserted in the bird to give it a distinct taste and aroma: sweet and spicy. Some also inject shots of pisco into the
turkey. More than 50 percent of the turkeys Peruvians eat yearly are consumed during this holiday season. As a delicious alternative, some families also serve lechón (roast
pork) as their main dish. Seasoned with the same basic condiments, it's a household favorite, served not only on Christmas but for holidays throughout the year. Side dishes
for the turkey or lechón include a Waldorf salad, which consists of apples, celery, mayonnaise, grapes and chopped nuts; sweet potato purée; apple sauce ; and a version of
Arabic rice that features Brazilian nuts, raisins and curry. These accompaniments, of course, vary with every household. "Noche Buena" Traditions in PeruFinally for dessert,
the most emblematic Peruvian Christmas food is served: panetón. Though it actually originated in Italy—Italian immigrant Antonio D'Onofrio brought it over— the
cupola-shaped sweet bread, made with cured dough and containing candied orange, lemon zest, raisins and other dried fruits, is extremely popular in Peru. Here, one can't
think Christmas without thinking panetón. Butter serves as a spread over a toasted slice of the bread and steaming cup of hot chocolate usually accompanies it. Once
bellies are full, the streets become littered with crowds. Not only are people out trying to visit and "saludar" (greet) family and friends but some are also out lighting fireworks.
It's summer here, remember? Though a dangerous activity if not done correctly (not not mention illegal), some take the risk for the sake of adding to the celebrations. Gifts
have been opened by this point, so the kids are either trying out their new toys or being put to bed. Depending on your family, the rest of the night might consist of watching
movies, chatting amongst each other over drinks and just spending a relaxing evening with the people you care about. For others, however, this is when party begins. With
living room sofas pushed aside to make room for a dance floor, the adults drink and dance the night away. The earliest one of these parties can end is 5 am, and even that
might be considered too early for some. Peruvians who spend Christmas eve/morning this way usually spend Christmas day recovering. Christmas day also consists of
attending mass, visiting friends or family you didn't get to see the night before and eating turkey sandwiches. That is, of course, if any turkey was leftover.