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Around the World in Santa's Sleigh

posted Dec 11, 2014, 10:19 AM by Unknown user   [ updated Dec 11, 2014, 10:32 AM ]

Carlee Schmelzer

Christmas time is quickly approaching. Everyone is hanging up lights and putting out their stockings. Traditions as old as time are coming out again. All around the world everyone believes their traditions are universal. This exploration into the lives of others during this holiday season will open your eyes to things you could never imagine as Christmas traditions, and who knows? You might bring home a new tradition to try yourself!


In Russia, Merry Christmas is pronounced 's rah-zh-dee-st-VOHM' (C рождеством!) Christmas is celebrated on Dec. 7. This date comes from the Russian Orthodox church using the old 'Julian' calendar for religious celebration days. On Christmas Eve, most families have a large feast with the main dish being sauerkraut! The sauerkraut is accompanied by cranberries, cumin, shredded carrots and onion rings. Following the meal, Russians will customarily attend a midnight church service that doesn't concluded until 4 or 5 a.m. Christmas trees are put up to symbolize New Year’s, which is considered the more important holiday in Russia.

In Mexico, Christmas is celebrated from Dec.12 to Jan. 6. Starting on the night of Dec. 16, many children will perform the Posada procession each night until Christmas Eve, nine 
nights in all. Posadas symbolizes Mary and Joseph’s search for a room in an Inn. During these nights, children are given candles and a board with clay figurines of Mary and Joseph. Children walk from door to door singing songs, mostly about Mary and Joseph’s search. The children are 
told there is no room for them in every house until finally they happen upon the house that is hosting that night’s Posada and are welcomed in!  The children rejoice and a lively party commences, complete with food, games and fireworks. At the final Posada on Christmas Eve, a manger and figures of shepherds are put on to the board. When the Posada house has been found, a baby Jesus is put into the manger and then families go to a midnight Church service. After the Church service there are more fireworks to celebrate the start of Christmas.

For Australians, Christmas comes in the middle of their summer holiday! Due to the extreme heat around Christmas time, harsh and devastating bush fires occur around this time each year. Despite the natural disasters,  Australian’s still find time to celebrate! They decorate their houses with Christmas trees and lights, sometimes competing with neighbors to see who can come up with the better display. In each state capital city there is a large Carols by Candlelight service. Famous Australian singers like The Wiggles, 

Six White Boomers.mp4

John Farnham, Anthony Warlow, Colin Gery, Niki Webster and many more help to sing the carols. These performances are broadcast live on Australian television for everyone to see. In addition to these large scale Carols by Candlelight services, communities may host their own service with local band and singers and the entertainment. Sometimes, words to traditional Christmas carols are changed to fit the hot temperatures of Australia as opposed to singing about sleigh ride and snow. In addition to changing the lyrics to Christmas carols, Australians believe Santa takes off his heavy winter coat and dumps his reindeer for kangaroos or ‘six white boomers’. Australians came up with a carol about these special kangaroos. 

In Japan, Christmas is not celebrated as a religious holiday but more so a time to spread happiness and cheer. Since not many Japanese people are Christians,Christmas in Japan has nothing to do with the birth of Christ but is celebrated much like how Americans celebrate Valentine’s Day. Couples get together to exchange gifts and cards. Many eat out at restaurants, which can be very difficult to get reservations around Christmas time. Schools and businesses remain open on Dec. 25 since Christmas is not considered a national holiday. After school, children usually go to parties with food and dancing. Some traditional Christmas day foods include fried chicken and Christmas cake, which is a light sponge cake topped with whipped cream and strawberries. Japanese children call Santa ‘santa-san’ or Mr. Santa

and he brings small gifts to all the good girls and boys.

The final stop on this Christmas tour around the world is Italy. The nativity scene is widely used in Italy as the main symbol of Christmas. Nearly every household has a handmade crib in their home that they get out for the holiday season. These cribs remain empty until Christmas Eve when a baby Jesus doll is swaddled in the manger. Italian nativity scenes are usually extremely elaborate and consist of more than just Mary, Joseph, Jesus and the wise men. Some nativity scenes have other homes, food items, even celebrities and politicians! In Italy, Christmas celebrations start eight days before Christmas with a series of prayers and church services. On Christmas Eve, a light seafood meal is eaten before going to midnight mass. When Mass concludes, many might go back to their homes to have Italian Christmas Cake called 'Panettone' which is a dry, fruity sponge cake and a cup of hot chocolate! On Christmas day, 'Babbo Natale' (Santa Claus) might bring them some small gifts, but the main day for present giving is on a separate Italian holiday called Epiphany.   

You can find this information and much more at http://www.whychristmas.com/cultures/russia.shtml

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