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How Different Nations Celebrate Christmas

There literally hundreds of Christmas traditions.  Though we may be only aware of the small corner or our world, in another nations Christmas is being celebrated as well.

American Christmas celebrations are a Hodge-podge of traditions from all over the world.  They follow the English tradition with carol singing, the German tradition of decorated trees, and Santa Claus from the Dutch tradition.  Most families do not open their gifts until Christmas morning but a few especially the Spanish Americans open their gifts the night before.  Many Americans celebrate the Christian tradition and attend church on the special day and enjoy a feast for dinner.

Austria celebrates Christmas on December the 6th which was the day they believed Saint Nicholas in his priestly glittering robe comes and blesses the children with goodies.  It also said that he protects them from the demon that at one time would kill the children, but now is his helper.  On the 24th, plays reenact the long travel Mary and Joseph made to Bethlehem and church services would be held in honor of the Christ child.  The people would then return home to their dinners that usually consisted of fish and lots of baked goodies.  After dinner a bell would ring, and a locked door would be unlocked and for the first time the children would stand in awe at the decorated tree with presents below.

England celebrates Christmas with the most pomp and circumstance, believing it to be the most important holiday of the year.  Their Christmas traditions stems back to hundreds of years.  The Christmas card was first posted in England in the 1840’s. Decorations such as holly and mistletoe are rites that extend as far back as the dark ages. The Christmas tree was actually introduced to Britain by King George III, but did not become an interest to the commoners until 1840 when Queen Victoria and her German husband Albert popularized it by mounting it in their courts. Gifts are opened on Christmas day and most British attend Church.  Food is of all the grandeur with the traditional roast turkey.  In the afternoon, everyone listens to a broadcasted Christmas message from the Queen.

France and Canada celebrate the Winter Solstice which originated from the Celtics.  This is a festival to celebrate the entering of winter.  Christianity did originate and developed in the ancient world, and the message of Christ brought in a new hope for these nations.  They have a festival calendar that was established form the fourth century, which replaced the ancient customs and pagan beliefs.  Christmas is celebrated on the 24th and 25th with a Christian liturgy that begins the night of the 24th and ends the next day on the 25th. 

Germany celebrates Christmas much like the Dutch, on December the 6th.  They believe that it is a day of magic where wonderful things happen, such as water turning into wine, animals speaking and you can find gems throughout the mountain, just for the picking.  They celebrate the Saint Nicholas tradition of Saint Nick dressed in a fine robe, bringing to the children their gifts.  The celebration continues until December 24th where a large feast is prepared and people eat to their heart’s content.  It is believed that if you do not eat enough, demons will come and haunt you during the night.  They call this feast “fat stomachs.”  Christmas day on the 25th   promises another dinner with roast goose and all the trimmings.   Keeping with the ancient traditions, trees are decorated on this day with all the decorations that depict the Garden of Eden, with apples, and red (for knowledge) and white (for innocence) ribbons.


 

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