Looking at Christmas Traditions From All Over the World
Our final 2015 newsletter will focus on Christmas: one of the most important holidays celebrated throughout the world. Although every culture has its own traditions, there are many surprising similarities in Christmas traditions from all over the world. First, you will always find candles and lights, even in countries that celebrate Christmas during summer. There is also the decorated tree and the old white-bearded man that plays one of the leading roles. His name diverges from Santa Claus to Baba Chaghaloo, to Sheng dan lao ren to Papa Noel. Wherever you might be, Christmas is a time to highlight the value of being with family and friends.
This newsletter, however, aims to feature some countries that do something completely different. We will present you with some Christmas traditions from all over the world you might have never heard of before. We also invite you to learn about traditions in the countries of Armenia, Costa Rica, Ethiopia and Finland.
Armenia – Շնորհավոր Սուրբ Ծնունդ (Merry Christmas)
The Armenian people celebrate their Christmas on January the 6th, a date otherwise known as Epiphany or Three Kings’ day in some countries. In Armenia, however, they celebrate the birth of Christ and his baptism on this day, the 6th of January.
While many countries enjoy a lot of culinary delicacies during the time before Christmas, Armenians do the contrary. Traditionally, they fast during the week leading up to Christmas, avoiding eggs, dairy products, and meat. The name of the traditional Christmas Eve dinner to which families gather together is khetum and consists of rice, fish and a yogurt and wheat soup.
Gaghant Baba is the Armenian Santa Claus and he brings presents to the children, but in Armenia, he comes on New Year’s Eve because Christmas is more of a religious holiday.
Costa Rica – Feliz Navidad
You are probably familiar with the above written Christmas greeting. Even if you don’t speak Spanish you have heard and sung the lines of the famous song by José Feliciano.
Located in the southern hemisphere, Costa Rica is one of the countries which celebrate Christmas during the summer holidays. Due to the different climate conditions, some familiar decoration materials have adapted to the natural environment. Costa Ricans decorate their houses with tropical flowers and make wreaths out of cypress branches decorated with red coffee berries.
As Costa Rica is a catholic nation, many families uphold the tradition of displaying a nativity scene with figurines of Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus, the wise men, and the animals of the manger. It is also a given that on Christmas Eve everyone puts on their best clothes and goes to midnight mass.
Traditionally, children leave their shoes out that night for el Niño, Baby Jesus, who brings the gifts, even though the more commercial Santa Claus gradually takes his place.
To find a universal Christmas greeting for Ghana among its 66 languages is no easy task. Although English is the lingua franca, Akan is the most present native language in the country.
People in Ghana celebrate Christmas from the 20th of December to the first week of January with lots of activities that culminate on Christmas Eve. The church service is always a joyful and cheering event involving drumming and dancing. When the choirs start to sing people come out and dance in front of the priest. There are also fireworks and parties taking place in cities all over the country. The big day is the 25th and it is celebrated with family and neighbors, exchanging gifts (the gift-bringer for children is Father Christmas), and a traditional meal.
Many Ghanaian families also decorate a tree growing in their yards with paper ornaments. Often mango, guava or cashew trees serve this purpose.
Finland – hyvää joulua
Last but not least, we present you with a nordic Christmas, and which country would be a better example of this than Finland – one of the world’s northernmost countries. Furthermore, some people believe that Santa Claus comes from Finland so he does not have to travel a long way to deliver his presents to Finnish children.
Unlike the other countries presented beforehand, Finland gets really quiet and peaceful around Christmas. On Christmas Eve afternoon, the whole country seems to freeze and it gets still and quiet everywhere as people get themselves ready for the evening. Since it gets dark early, people light a lot of candles, ice lanterns or lanterns made out of small snowballs.
Another Finnish tradition is going to the sauna to bathe and relax before attending the events of the evening. In ancient times, the sauna was regarded as a holy place where many important acts of life were carried out. Nowadays, heating the sauna is still deeply rooted in Finnish culture.
In the evening, families have a traditional dinner which is often leg of pork served with slow-baked, traditional mashed potatoes and casseroles containing different vegetables like rutabaga, carrot, and potato. This meal is for close families in a warm, cozy atmosphere.
What unites us?
As diverse as the many Christmas traditions from all over the world may seem, there are essential core elements that we all have in common: Spending time with family and friends and enjoying the company of loved ones. Christmas reminds us of values like generosity and conviviality and gives us a rest from daily stresses. However, the reason for the season stays the same: Jesus Christ born in a manger gives us hope and brings light into a world full of woe. “Joy to the world, the Lord has come” – this message goes beyond every tradition and gives deeper meaning to the celebration.
LingoStar wants to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! For more information on services, contact us by calling 604-629-8420 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your next language-related project. You can also submit a free quote via our website dev.lingo-star.com. We are here to help!