Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem, around two thousand years ago. Since his birth, Christmas has been celebrated as a festival of sharing and happiness. Christmas is celebrated all over the Christian world and beyond, and there are numerous different traditions that the people have been following, throughout the world. For children in America, it is the time when one is trickled by the snowflakes, rides on the sledges, and decorates the Christmas trees. There is no doubt that it has become a universal festival, celebrated by people of different cultures in their own, unique way. The traditions followed in different parts of the world to celebrate Christmas, are largely influenced by the local cultures.
All around the world, Christmas is celebrated with much fanfare and pomp. School-going kids seem to be the most excited souls in the world during this time. Their parents often teach them about the true meaning of Christmas, and they also enjoy singing the melodious Christmas carols. Here are some of the most unique Christmas traditions followed across the world.
Children from across the world, generally hang their Christmas stockings by the fireplace, so that the Santa Claus fills them with gifts. The children in Argentina enjoy the same tradition, but in a slightly different way. They hang boots by the door, so that Father Christmas can fill them up with lovely delights.
Christmas in Australia is very different from that in the other regions. For most of us, Christmas arrives during the chilling winter season. However, in Australia, Christmas comes knocking in summer. Mothers bake a Christmas plum pudding, and hide a lovely Christmas favor in it. There is also a tasty turkey dinner, with pork and ham. Christmas carols are sung on the Christmas eve. A Christmas bush, a native plant in Australia is surrounded by hundreds of people, just like in the case of Christmas trees, in America.
Everywhere, Christmas is celebrated on 25th December. But, in Belgium Sint Nicolaas or Sinterklaas is celebrated on the 6th December. Most children get their presents on this day, and Santa Claus is called Kerstman or Père Noël. It is said that on this day, St. Nicholas visits the houses to see which children were good or bad the whole year round. Those who were good, receive plenty of sweet goodies, while the bad ones are left empty-handed.
Most people in Brazil do not celebrate Christmas on a grand scale. The festival is celebrated with chicken, rice, beans, and coke. Brigadeiro is a Brazilian dessert, cooked at the occasion of Christmas. Children decorate the Christmas tree, and wait for Papai Noel (Santa Claus) to come and visit them with his gifts.
Canada has a very interesting practice. There are masked people called the Belsnicklers or the mummers who go around the neighborhood, creating a din. They go from house to house, asking children if they were good or bad, and gift the good children with candies and treats.
Children in Denmark have a great time enjoying the mischievous pranks of an elf, called Nisse. They leave the elf, a bowl of pudding at night so that he does minimum mischief. Nisse plays pranks on adults, and leaves Christmas gifts for the children.
Finland is full of joy as they are, technically, more closer to the Santa Claus. The Finnish people make a special rice porridge, and a sweet soup made of dried fruits. They also go to church, and place presents under the Christmas tree.
Most of the Christmas traditions in Great Britain are similar to the ones in the United States. Children write letters to Father Christmas, and hang stockings over the chimney. Plum puddings with hidden goodies are served to the children.
People in Iraq celebrate Christmas by gathering around a bonfire. This bonfire is made of dried thorns. People hold lighted candles, and listen to a child who reads the Nativity story from an Arabic Bible. They light up the bonfire after he finishes reading. Another interesting tradition is that if the thorns are burned to ashes, the family is said to have a good fortune for the rest of the year. If there are embers left, each family member can jump three times over it, and ask for a wish to be granted.
Many families in Japan have adopted the Western traditions of Christmas, like cooking turkey, decorating the Christmas trees, etc. However, the traditional angle of celebrating Christmas in Japan includes Hotei-osho. He is a Buddhist monk who, just like Santa, gets presents for the children.
The Polish tradition includes sharing of a special bread, called the oplatek with friends, family, and neighbors. It is believed that sharing keeps the spirit of Christmas alive. When one shares the special bread, the person receiving it has to forgive the giver for any misconducts in the past.
Children in Russia receive gifts from Babushka, a legendary grandmother who did not provide food and shelter to the three wise men. She did not go along with them, and later on regretted her decision. She ran after them trying to catch up, and to have a look at baby Jesus. Thus, she gives gifts and presents to any child she comes across.
These are some of the traditions, celebrated at the time of Christmas, around the world. It should be noted that though the way of celebrating Christmas may change from region to region, the underlying factor of spreading joy and sharing remains the same.