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Around the world: Christmas in different cultures

Christmas originally, is an annual religious and cultural holiday commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ. However this tradition has now become a huge economic celebration of gift giving accompanied with the traditional roast turkey for friends and family to gather around while singing Christmas carols. That is pretty much how Christmas is celebrated in England but how does the rest of the world celebrate Christmas?
Speaking of advertising becoming successful, families in Japan get dressed up early in the morning on Christmas day to head out for some Kentucky Fried Chicken. This is all because of the “Kurisumasu ni wa kentakkii!” (Kentucky for Christmas!) marketing campaign in 1974. Ever since, buckets of Christmas chicken are being sold to the Japanese since turkey is meat you can’t find in Japan.
Another unusual delicacy that is being enjoyed on Christmas day is deep-fried caterpillars by the South Africans. They have known to practice this tradition for years as well.
Christmas is also known to be a celebration full of life. However, on the morning of Christmas day, people in Portugal have a customary feast called ‘consoda’ where not only does the family get together to eat but also dead people are invited. Extra places are arranged and food is offered to the departed.
Similarly, families in Finland usually visit the graves of their ancestors and relatives on Christmas Eve to light candles in memory of the departed. Even those who don’t have their relation’s graves nearby visit cemeteries to place candles in honor of their family members entombed somewhere else. Hence, on Christmas Eve, cemeteries would be lit up with candles presenting an astounding view.
In Italy, rather than Santa Claus, the children await the arrival of Befana, a good-natured witch who delivers confectionary and toys on 5th January. Similarly, on Christmas Eve in Norway, all the brooms in the houses are hidden because long ago it was believed that witches came out on Christmas Eve and would steal their brooms for riding which meant no cleaning was done.
In Ukraine, instead of glittering ornaments and tinsel, Christmas trees are covered with artificial spiders and cobwebs. According to local folk tradition, there was a poor woman whose family could not afford to decorate their Christmas tree. But the following dawn, her children woke up to see the tree covered with webs and when the first light of Christmas morning touched the web streaks, they magically transformed into gold and silver and the family was never poor again. Hence, it is believed that seeing a spider web on Christmas morning brings luck.
In India, because it is hard to find fir trees or pine trees to decorate, they usually make do with banana trees and mango trees instead.
Children can be sneaky when it comes to Christmas Day. As the saying goes, they are not allowed to open up their present until its Christmas D ay.
On the second Sunday before Christmas, children in the former Yugoslavia tie their unknowing mother’s feet to a chair and proceed to chant ‘Mother’s Day, Mother’s Day, what will you pay to get away?’ She then proceeds to give them presents. Children then repeat this trick on their father the following week to get more presents. In Germany, parents hide a pickle in the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve and the first child to find it receives a small gift.
No matter how you are celebrating (or not celebrating at all) this year, we hope you have a very enjoyable holiday, and we will see you in the New Year.

09/12/2014

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joannesursas