Christmas in the world - how is it celebrated?
Christmas is a day known all over the world, celebrated not only by Christians. This time has become so popular and media coverage that even non-believers are happy about Christmas Eve, the opportunity to spend time with the family and give them gifts. However, the Christmas Eve known to us, Poles, is not the same Christmas Eve as in Mexico, France or Japan. Each country has a completely different way of celebrating and spending this evening. So what does Christmas look like in the world? Here are some of the most interesting examples.
9 days in Mexico
Mexicans start celebrating 9 days before Christmas Eve. Each of these days symbolizes the next month of Mary's pregnancy until delivery. People flock to the streets of Mexico, and the actors who play the roles of Mary and Joseph go from house to house asking for shelter. The pilgrims who accompany them carry candles and their own nativity scenes. People in the streets sing traditional religious songs and pray to find shelter for Mary and Joseph. When the Holy Family finally succeeds, everyone starts celebrating. The highlight of the program is the dropping of a pinata stuffed with sweets.
Mexico has a unique culture where every holiday is celebrated loudly - with singing and dancing until dawn. Our day of the dead, full of melancholy, is an ideal example. At the same time, parades of dancing and singing people dressed as grim reapers are lining the streets of Mexico.
Christmas in the world - Sweet Provence
Provence is a small region of France, but with such a unique tradition that even holidays are celebrated differently there. Christmas Eve is a real feast, served on a table lined with three tablecloths, accompanied by three candles. However, traditional dishes are different from ours. The 13 dishes are mainly seafood, garlic soup, vegetables and an omelette! Finally, desserts are served that symbolize the birth of Jesus. These are by no means ordinary cookies or ice cream. They are mainly fresh fruits - from apples and pears to grapes to figs and melons. There are also dried and candied fruits. Plus nuts. The culmination of this dinner is nougat and yeast dough.
Nicholas - Samurai
Christians make up only 1% of the Japanese population. And yet, the celebration of Christmas is very popular there. You can feel the festive mood in the streets as early as November. The Japanese loved the Christmas atmosphere and the shopping frenzy of sales. And although they don't necessarily believe in Mary's immaculate conception, they don't mind reindeer and Merry Christmas neon signs. Therefore, Christmas Eve itself is no different from the daily dinner there. The only exception is a very sweet cake for dessert, with a lot of cream and chocolate, and - obligatory - with the image of Santa on the top. Of course, the Japanese exchange small gifts that day.
Young people treat Christmas more like Valentine's Day, so on December 24, restaurants are usually occupied by couples in love. One of the most popular options is also Christmas Eve dinner ... at KFC. It is not really known why the Japanese chose KFC, possibly because Colonel Sanders looks a bit like St. Nicholas. The so-called love hotels where couples rent rooms by the hour. If the Japanese want to feel the festive mood in the middle of summer, no problem - some hotels are decorated in a festive style all year round.
The main decoration of larger cities, in addition to the lamps and garlands in the windows, are large Christmas cribs. In them, in addition to the Holy Family, you can see pilgrims dressed in traditional Portuguese clothes. Interestingly, the practice of decorating Christmas trees in Portugal is quite young. Even in the 1950s, they were more of a folklore curiosity than an obligatory element of Christmas decorations. These are most often artificial Christmas trees, although you can also find live pine trees. They are usually decorated with dried fruit.
As for the Christmas Eve dinner itself - it's hard to find any analogies to Polish traditions.The Portuguese do not leave an empty seat at the table for a stranger, do not share the wafer, do not put hay under the tablecloth and do not prepare 12 dishes. The obligatory items on the table are cod and lots of sweets.
Dutch Santa Claus and his helper
The Dutch do not pay much attention to Christmas. Sure, they enjoy a few days off, but it's not a spiritual event for them. For dinner, usually turkey or goose are eaten. After dinner, whole families spend time together ice skating or walking. Interestingly, the traditional Santa Claus in the Netherlands is always depicted with his assistant. And it is by no means his wife or elf.
Black Peter, because we are talking about him - is a little black boy. According to legend, Nicholas bought him at the slave market and declared him a free man. As a gratitude, Piotruś decided to stay with Mikołaj and help him distribute gifts. Another legend says that the boy previously worked as a chimney sweep assistant. He had the unique ability to climb roofs, so Nicholas offered him a job.
Many people find such an image offensive and refer to racism and the tradition of slavery. Anthropologists, however, defend Nicholas and his black assistant. According to researchers, the image of Black Peter refers to even older beliefs, according to which Nicholas was helped by the devil himself.
Christmas: celebration in Italian
Christmas Eve itself is not an important day for Italians. Of course, the dinner is more festive than on a daily basis, but it is only waiting for the Shepherdess. After dinner, the people of Rome go to St. Peter, where the nativity scene is officially unveiled. December 25 is a real holiday in Italy. On this day, a festive dinner is organized, where - depending on the region of Italy - the tables can include lasagna, tortellini, leek soup with potatoes or truffles. The main course is roasted meat.
Dessert is a traditional yeast cake filled with dried fruit. We are talking about the world-famous panettone. These cakes are sold in the millions during the holiday season. Beautifully packaged and baked in various shapes, they are also a very common gift. It is a particularly lucky time for Italian children, as they are free until January 6th.
At the end of the holidays, the witch Befana brings the more polite children gifts. According to the legend, a witch once met three kings who were going to greet Jesus. She wanted to join them, but on the way to Bethlehem she got lost. From then on, he flies from house to house, leaving gifts in case Jesus is there. Befana loves tangerines and wine, which are left by her children, who want to win her favor. Naughty Italians, after a witch's visit, can expect coal or garlic in their socks.