how the world celebrates christmas
Around the world, people are getting in the Christmas spirit. Many people are familiar with American traditions, like hanging stockings and putting up a Christmas tree. However, many people don't realize that all around the world, different countries have their own ways to celebrate on December 24th and 25th.
In Germany, Christmas traditions are centered around Advent. German families keep an advent wreath that is adorned with four candles; one is lit on each of the four Sundays leading up to Christmas. Children look forward to advent calendars, with twenty-four small windows that open to reveal candy, chocolates and small toys. German towns organize evening Christmas markets in their town squares. At these beautifully lit markets locals can enjoy a glass of mulled wine while shopping for handmade gifts and listening to live performances of holiday music.
The most important feature of a traditional Mexican Christmas is the posada. In this dramatic recreation of Mary and Joseph's search for a place to spend the night, costumed churchgoers knock on neighborhood doors, while residents symbolically turn them away. Eventually, the procession makes its way to the church, where the devout attend a mass before well-behaved children are rewarded with the chance to swing at a piñata.
In China, Christmas is less of a religious holiday than a cultural one inspired by a growing interest in Western practices. Christmas is mainly celebrated in China's larger cities, where Christmas Eve is the biggest shopping day of the year and shoppers love posing for photos with Santa Claus (who is often portrayed as a funky saxophone player). Rather than eat a Christmas turkey, Chinese families are more likely to share a dinner of pork or duck.
Since Finland's northern Lapland region is home to Santa Claus himself, the country has some very special Christmas traditions. For more than seven hundred years, the city of Turku has proclaimed "Christmas Peace" at noon on Christmas Eve. The city's cathedral then chimes its bells as most of the country watches live on their televisions. Families will then enjoy a traditional Finnish sauna before preparing and enjoying dinner together.
Even though Christmas in South Africa falls in the very middle of summer, locals still find ways to get in the Christmas spirit. Locals who speak Afrikaans wish one another a "Geseende Kersfees" and celebrate together with a potluck barbecue dinner. On Christmas Day, people get together at the beach or schedule a safari tour in one of the country's national parks.
Whether you're at home or abroad this holiday season, consider maintaining the traditions that your family loves while also incorporating one or two new traditions (perhaps inspired by one of these exotic locales) that ou can call your own.