As the holiday season approaches and while the excitement for gifts, winter activities, holiday meals, and decorating the tree come into view, it’s also a good time to learn about holiday traditions around the world and what the holiday season means to different cultures.
Finland: Christmas is taken very seriously in Finland. In fact, the literal translation of December in Finnish (Joulukuu) is “Christmas month.” Finnish people believe Santa Claus lives in the northern part of Finland.They enjoy traditions such as decorating the tree and opening gifts on Christmas Eve rather than in the morning. Usually, a family member will dress up as Santa Claus and surprise kids and bring them toys. Traditional Finnish Christmas foods are rice porridge, fish, and vegetables.
Australia: Christmas in Australia isn’t much different to Christmas in The States. The main difference is Christmas falls in summer in Australia rather than in the winter. Traditional foods eaten on Christmas are cold dishes, fish, and barbecue. However, on Boxing Day (the day after Christmas) which originated as a day for servants to have work off, Australians celebrate the holiday with their closest friends, whereas Christmas day is a time for family.
Mexico: In Mexico, Christmas is celebrated from Dec. 12 to Jan. 6. Children perform “Posadas” beginning from Dec. 16 to Christmas Eve. Posadas is the part of the Christmas Story where Mary and Joseph look for somewhere to stay. Each night a different family hosts the Posada party, where a group of people reenact the scene by asking for shelter from neighbors and friends.
China: Christmas in China is mainly celebrated in large cities such as Hong Kong and Beijing because only a small percent of the population is Christian. Holiday customs include displaying paper and plastic Christmas trees along with decorating traditional lanterns. A holiday dinner consists of barbecued pork, chicken and soup. Christmas isn’t celebrated widely but is starting to be given more attention.
Africa: Christmas has been celebrated in Africa since the first century. Traditions include gift giving, roasting meats and travelling to celebrate with friends and family. Christmas carols are sung all over the continent. Although Kwanzaa is recognized in the States as a holiday of African heritage, Kwanzaa isn’t celebrated in Africa.