Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas Around the World: Africa


Christmas is celebrated throughout Africa.  There are 350 million christians in Africa.  The Coptic Christians in Ethiopia and Egypt celebrate Christmas on the 25th of December on their calender, which is the 7th of January on the rest of the worlds.  Kwanzaa is not celebrated in Africa, it is an African-American holiday.

Christmas in Africa is not nearly as commercial as it is in the Americas and Europe.  More emphasis is put on the birth of christ and singing in church than gift giving. The most common thing purchased for Christmas is a set of new clothes to be worn to church. Other common gifts are; school books, cloth, candles, soap, and other practical items.

Christmas dinner is another big part of the holiday.  In east Africa, goats are bought on Christmas day to be roasted for dinner. In South Africa, the beaches are full and BBQ's or traditional christmas dinners are common. The traditional dinners include mince pies, plum pudding, and Turkey.  In ghana, fufu and okra soup is served along with Liberia rice, beef and biscuits.  In Zimbabwae, to go with there goat, bread, jam, and tea is served.

At churches in Africa, nativity scenes are placed out, and people sing carols, and sometimes dance.

Shop fronts, churches, mango trees, and homes are all decorated for the holiday. Fake snow can be found in store windows, palm trees are filled with candles, and oil palm trees are filled with bells.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Christmas Around the World: Asia

Christmas is not widely celebrated in Asia.  It is more of a commercial holiday, and holds little or no religious value (sounds like some western countries, doesn't it?). 


Less than 1% of Japanese people are Christians.  They are predominately Buddhist, Shinto, or Atheist. Because of this, Christmas is not a nationally recognized holiday, and people go to work and school.  Even though most people aren't Christians, Christmas is celebrated in the spirit of commercialism. Corporations do most of the holiday decorating, though many Japanese people have Christmas trees and hold Christmas parties.

On Christmas Eve, it is very common to celebrate with a Christmas cake.  The cake is said to go bad if it is not consumed on Christmas Eve. It is a light sponge cake, with a small amount of frosting, and strawberries.


Christian children in China decorate trees with colorful ornaments in the shapes of flowers, chains, and lanterns. Muslin stockings are hung with for "Dun Che Lao Ren" or "Christmas Old Man" to place gifts and treats in.

Non-Christian children in China call this time the Spring Festival.  They celebrate with many festivities. They eat delicious meals, and pay respect to their ancestors.  Children are the main focus of these celebrations.  Children are given new clothes, new toys, good food, and watch firework displays.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Christmas Around the World: Europe

I decided that I should learn about christmas around the world.  I wondered how closely it resembles American christmas.  Christmas in Europe is varies suprisingly from country to country.

I have chosen four countries in europe to write about right now and will write about more countries from other continents later.


On christmas eve, children leave their shoes by the fireplace to be filled with gifts by Pere Noel.  If a family has a christmas tree; sweets, fruits, nuts, and small toys are hung on it.
Most homes have nativity scenes set up and they serve as the focus of the christmas celebration. 

A late supper called Le Reveillion is served after midnight mass on christmas eve.  Regional food is eaten at this feast, as well as a yule log shaped cake called Buche de Nol or Christmas cake.  After the feast, food and drink is left on the tables and the log is left burning in the fireplace in case the virgin Mary calls is.


The Christmas season goes for 3 weeks, starting 8 days before Novena (Christmas).  The week before Christmas children go from house to house dressed up as sheperds, playing pipes, singing, and receiting christmas poems.  The children are then given money to buy christmas presents.

A feast happens 24 hours before Christmas eve and is followed by a celebration meal in which Panneton and chocolate are featured.  On christmas day the pope gives blessings to the crowd gathered in vatican square.  Children wait until the Epiphany on January 6th to receive presents.  Their gifts are delivered by an ugly witch who was said to be to busy to visit baby Jesus on the day he was born.


During Christmas time, young children, particularly those in the country, remember a little gnome who guards their farm animals. This gnome will play tricks on the children if the forget to leave him a bowl of porridge.

They also have a gift bearing gnome, called Julebukk (meaning Christmas buck), he is called this because he appears as a goat like creature.

The Christmas season begins with the Saint Lucia ceremony on the 13th of December. The oldest daughter in the family puts on a white robe, a sash, and crown of evergreens with tall lighted candles in it.  The younger daughters carry one lit candle each. The boys in the family dress as star boys with long white shirts and pointed hats.  The children wake their parents at dawn and bring them coffee, and Lussekatter (saffron buns).  The ceremony is meant to represents thanksgiving for the return of the sun.

Christmas trees are usually decorated with apples, red harts, cornets, straw ornaments, balls of glass, and tinsel.

On Christmas day, families usually have a big brunch at noon or a dinner in the afternoon.


Advent is an important season in the Polish year.  There are special church services held every morning (called roraty), at six. The four Sundays of advent are said to represent the 4,000 years of waiting for christ.  

During this time, Christmas decorations are made, as in piernik, a honey cake. Christmas trees are placed in homes and public areas as well as outside churches.  They are decorated with shiny apples, gift walnuts, beautifully wrapped chocolate shapes, and homemade decorations and candles.  On top of the trees, there is usually a star.

Christmas eve (wigilia) is important in Poland.  The polish traditionally celebrate with at least 12 different vegetarian dishes.