By Molly Haymen and Alessia Anderson, Year 8
Have you ever wondered how other cultures spend their Christmas? Read on to find out!
In traditional village celebrations, about two weeks before Christmas Day everyone gathers at the community’s largest house and celebrates. On Christmas day, families gather and sing and perform the traditional ‘Meke’, a fan (women) and spear (men) dance. Colourful ribbons, seashells and sand for snow decorate trees. Santa makes an appearance arriving on his tropical island sleigh to all islands, throwing out flower chains and candy to the children.
In Mexico, Christmas is celebrated from the December 12th to January 6th. From December 16th to Christmas Eve, children often perform the ‘Posada’ processions or Posadas. There are nine Posadas. These celebrate the part of the Christmas story where Joseph and Mary looked for somewhere to stay. For the Posadas, the outside of houses are decorated with evergreens, moss and paper lanterns. Piñata is an extremely popular activity played on Christmas Day where everyone gets sweet treats and has fun testing their strength.
Nativity scenes are huge in Italy. They are traditionally put out on the 8th December in churches, and a lot of families have one for their own house! An old custom is that on Christmas Day, children go out Carol singing and playing songs on shepherd’s pipes, wearing sandals and hats. On Christmas Eve, it’s common that no meat (and also sometimes no dairy) is eaten. Often a light seafood meal is eaten and then people go to the Midnight Mass service. The types of fish and how they are served vary between different regions in Italy.
Over 66 languages are spoken in Ghana and all these language groups have their own traditions and customs! Christmas Eve night is the time when the celebrations start, with Church services that have drumming and dancing. Children often put on a Nativity Play or other drama. Then choirs come out to sing and people come out in front of the priests to dance. Songs are mostly sung in the languages that the people understand best. This makes them feels that God speaks their language. Sometimes these services and dancing go on all night long! Fireworks are set off at midnight. On Christmas day the Churches are very full. People come out dressed in their colourful traditional clothes. After the Church service on Christmas morning, people go back to their houses to start giving and receiving gifts.
In Hungary, Christmas Eve is very important and is called ‘Szent-este’ which means Holy Evening. People spend the evening with their family and decorate the Christmas Tree. Sometimes only the adults decorate the tree without the children there, so when children come in and see the tree, it’s a great surprise and they are told that angels brought the tree for them! The Midnight Mass service is very popular in Hungary. On Christmas Eve children also hope that they will be left some presents under the Christmas Tree. They’re told that the presents are brought by Jesus. Children wait outside the room where the tree is and when they hear bells ringing, they can enter and the presents await them under the Christmas tree.
Churches are decorated with lights and many have a bright red neon cross on top so that goes very well with the Christmas lights! Most churches will have a service on Christmas day. Department stores put on big displays of decorations. There’s also an amazing display of lights in the capital city, Seoul. The lights are all over the city centre including the bridges over the Han River. A popular present is money! Santa Claus can also be seen around Korea but he might be wearing red or blue! He’s also known as산타 할아버지 (Santa Grandfather). Very popular foods eaten are Christmas cake, rice cake and Korean Barbeque.
All images and info from: Cooper, J. Christmas Around the World, 2015. Viewed November 11-19, 2017. < https://www.whychristmas.com/cultures/>