Do you know that Christmas is really celebrated all over the world? We hope you know the way British, Americans, and Russians do it. That’s why today we want to travel to Australia, Brazil, Scandinavia and East Asian countries.
Temperature in Australia often soars up to 30 degrees Celsius during Christmas season. Traditional Christmas dinner includes turkey, ham and pork. Christmas plum pudding serves as desert and served enflamed. During the times of Australian gold rushes, Christmas puddings often had a gold nugget inside them, which are now replaced with small favors. Anybody who finds the favor is believed to have good luck throughout the coming year. Mince pies are also popular as treats here. Australians, especially tourists, love to have their Christmas dinner at midday on a local beach. The hot favorite beach for the purpose is the Bondi Beach situated in Sydney’s eastern suburbs. Many families enjoy picnics together or spend their days swimming in pools, playing Cricket or indulging in other outdoor activities. A new Australian tradition was evolved in 1937. On Christmas Eve, thousands of people used to gather in the city of Melbourne for the ’Carols by Candlelight’ event and to sing their favorite Christmas songs. All members have a lit candle in their hands and it seems that the stars have come down on Earth from the Sky. In the weeks before Christmas, similar events are arranged in Sydney and the other capital cities. Christmas Bush, a native plant with little red flowered leaves, is used to decorate the houses. People indulge in Christmas shopping and one can see Santa Claus on beaches on a surfboard or a surf lifesaving boat.
Brazilians belong to different ethnicities that started out as a Portuguese colony. Thus, many Christmas customs in Brazil owe themselves to their heritage. A Nativity scene or Presépio (Hebrew word meaning bed of straw on which Jesus slept in Bethlehem) is prepared in northeastern Brazil. The Santa Claus figure that brings gifts for children is known as Papai Noel or Father Noel who lives in Greenland and wears silk clothing in Brazil due to hot summer conditions. Traditional Christmas dinner called Ceia de Natal consists of turkey, ham, colored rice, vegetables and fruit dishes. Catholics attend Midnight Mass or Missa do Galo that ends at 1 AM on Christmas morning. On December 25th, masses are held at churches for Catholics in the late afternoons so that people can sleep till late or go to beach. Home decorations mostly consist of fresh flowers from the garden. In big cities such as Brasilia, San Paolo and Rio de Janeiro, there are fireworks in the night time. People lit up huge Christmas trees made from electric lights. Folk dancing and singing is quite common. Festivities go on till 6th of January or the Three Kings Day, when the three wise men finally visited Jesus with their gifts.
In Scandinavia, children keep a bowl of porridge for the little gnome called Julenisse who live in the attics, so that he won’t play pranks on the family and leave presents for them under the Christmas tree in the night. Yule log traditions originated here. Yuletide or the winter solstice is quite important for Scandinavian people as nights become cold and dark in the winters. Thus, most of the traditions and customs are meant to give light and warmth. According to the local superstition, it is dangerous to sleep alone on Christmas Eve. The master and servants and the extended family should all sleep together on a freshly spread bed of straw on this day. The Yule log was originally an entire tree that was chosen carefully so that it will last the entire Yule season. It was brought into the house with great ceremony and festivities and then placed into the hearth in such a way that the lower end is in the hearth while the upper part of the tree stuck around in the room. Slowly, the whole tree is fed to the fireplace during the season. Christmas candles also play an important role in Scandinavian customs.
Christmas traditions and customs in three East Asian countries are discussed here. These are — China, Hong Kong (now a part of China) and Japan. Here are the highlights: In China, Christian children decorate trees with colorful paper ornaments in shapes of flowers, chains and lanterns. They hang muslin stockings for the Christmas Old Man to keep gifts and treats for them. There, Christmas trees are called ’Trees of Light’ and Santa Claus is known as ’Dun Che Lao Ren’, which means ’Christmas Old Man.’ Non-Christian Chinese celebrate holiday season as the Spring Festival. There pay respect to their honors and festivities and feasts ensue. Children receive new clothes and toys, eat delicious food and enjoy firework displays and crackers.
Christians constitute only 1% of Japanese population. Yet, most Japanese people decorate their homes and shops with evergreens during Christmas and exchange gifts. A priest called Hoteiosha acts like Santa Claus in Japan and distributes gifts and presents to all children, going door to door. It is said that he has eyes on the back of his head, so children try to be nice when he is nearby. Japanese Christian do not consider Christmas as a family holiday and do not have turkey or plum pudding. Rather, they spend the day doing social work and charity such as helping the sick and the poor. In Sunday schools, programs and events are organized for children on Christmas Eve or Christmas night that last for hours. They may include singing, recitations and Nativity plays.
Christmas is an important festival of India. It is celebrated differently in different parts of India. Christians in India decorate banana or mango trees. There are several old churches in Goa which are frequented by locals as well as the foreign tourist during Christmas. One should make an advance booking in Goa Hotels if planning a visit to Goa during Christmas & New Year.