Christmas around the world
Now Christmas looks different depending on where you are in the world. Here are a few different countries celebrate worldwide.
Christmas comes in the beginning of the summer holidays! Children have their summer holidays from mid-December to early February. In each State there is a large carols by candlelight service and during the festive period Australian’s can be known to BBQ on the beach due to the weather and a famous yacht race is also held on boxing day. As for food most people now have a cold Christmas dinner or BBQ with seafood along with the traditional English food.
Many Brazilian Christmas traditions come from Portugal. Nativity scenes known as Presepio are very popular and set up in homes and churches. Most people will attend a midnight mass service or Missa do Gala. After these finish around 1am they are often followed by big firework displays in big towns and cities. It is also summer in Brazil in December so many people enjoy going to the beach. The favourite Christmas foods in Brazil are; pork, turkey, ham, salads, fresh and dried fruits and served with rice cooked with raisins ‘farofa’ (seasoned manioc flour). It is also common in Brazil to get a ‘13th salary’ at the end of the year so in December you get twice the normal amount of pay for that month. The idea is to help boost the economy around Christmas.
In China around 1% of the population are Christians so it is often only celebrated in major cities. A tradition that is becoming popular is giving Apples on Christmas eve. Some people will go carol singing, although not many people understand them or know about the Christmas story. Going to a midnight mass service has become popular also.
One of the biggest Christmas markets in Europe is held in North Eastern France. The main Christmas meal is eaten on Christmas Eve / Early Christmas morning after people have returned from the midnight Church Service. Dishes may include roast turkey with chestnuts or roast goose, oysters, foie gras, lobster, venison and cheeses.
Christmas Eve is very important and is called ‘Szent-este’ which means Holy Evening. People spend the evening decorating the tree with family, sometimes only the adults decorate the tree so when the children come in and see the tree it is a great surprise and they are told that angels brought the tree for them. The main Christmas meal, eaten on Christmas Eve, consists of fish (often fish soup) stuffed cabbage, and a poppy bread/cake (called ‘Beigli’). Midnight mass is also very popular and usually attended after the Christmas meal. Children leave out shoes or boots on a windowsill to be filled with goodies!
On Christmas Eve the ‘Grand Market’ happens. It is a really exciting time in every town and city there is a cross between a festival and a market. During the day people go shopping for Christmas foods, sweets, toys and new clothes ready for the evening celebrations. Around 6pm everyone comes in new / their best clothes. The streets, shops and many houses are decorated with lights and usually street vendors will sell food. Following the Grand Market some will then attend midnight mass. Christmas dinner is usually prepared on Christmas Eve and may include; turkey, chicken, curry goat, stewed oxtail, rice and peas.
In Mexico, Christmas is celebrated from December 12th to January 6th. Children often perform the ‘Posada’. This is Spanish for Inn or Lodging. Outside of houses are decorated with evergreens, moss and paper lanterns. Lanterns represent lighting the way for somewhere for Mary and Joseph to stay. Each night a different house holds the Posada party with the final being on Christmas Eve when baby Jesus is put into the manger and families attend a midnight church service. Once church is over fireworks begin to celebrate the start of Christmas.
Advent is the start of Christmas in Poland. It is a time when people try to be peaceful and remember the real reason for Christmas and therefore, they try not to have excess of anything. Some give up their favourite foods or drinks and parties are not widely held. People also prepare their houses for Christmas, lots of cleaning including windows and carpets as everything must be clean for Christmas Day. The main Christmas meal is eaten on Christmas Eve. It is traditional that no food is eaten until the first star is seen in the sky. On the table are 12 dishes representing luck for the next 12 months. The meal is normally meat free to remember the animals who took care of baby Jesus in the manger. Christmas Eve tends to be a fasting day meaning some people don’t eat anything until after sunset.
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