• Christmas Celebrations

    How Christmas is celebrated in other places

    Well, you know what they say.different strokes for different folks. It's true for Christmas. Click on any country below to read how they celebrate Christmas.

     


    Australia
    Bangladesh
    China
    France
    India
    Indonesia
    Japan
    New Zealand

     

    Australia

    Generally, Christmas is celebrated along traditional lines and families often travel great distances to be together. Church is attended in great mass on Christmas Day. Services are often held very early in the morning.

    Many carols sung are Australian, celebrating Christ's birth with an imagery drawn from the Australian Christmas Bush, which flowers at Christmas. Other songs sung and listened to are about Snow and Snowmen. Bing Crosby's Christmas albums (with White Christmas included) would have to be the most commonly owned Christmas albums in Australia.

    Due to the multiculturalism in Australia food can vary. But meals mainly center around the traditional Hams, Turkeys and Plum Pudding. Often these dishes are cooked earlier and served cold. Salads and other summer foods are present as well as food from other cultures.

    Public celebrations include Carols by Candlelight Concert, on Christmas Eve, held at the Myer Music Bowl in Melbourne and Carols in the Domain, Australia's largest annual community Christmas celebration. The event, which is free to attend is held in Sydney's Domain Gardens, a short walk from the Sydney Opera House and is always held on the last Saturday before Christmas. These events are broadcast on television and radio throughout the country and seen through Southeast Asia and New Zealand. The attendance usually ranges from 70,000 - 100,000 with nearly two million television viewers.

     

    Bangladesh

    The Christian village men cut down scores of banana trees and replant them in pairs along the paths to churches and outside their homes, for Christmas in Bangladesh.  They bend over the huge leaves to make an arch, and then make small holes in the bamboo poles, fill them with oil and tie them across the arches.  When the oil is lit the way to church is bright.

     

    China

    Some who celebrate Christmas in China do so after having spent time in Japan where the holiday is becoming a booming business. The small percentage of Chinese who do so, erect artificial trees in their upscale apartments decorated with spangles form southern China's export zone. Christmas trees are called "trees of light" and are also decorated with paper chains, paper flowers, and paper lanterns. Children hang up muslin stockings in hopes that Dun Che Lao Ren (China's Santa) will fill them with presents. Stores have men dressed as Santa Claus handing out candy and waitresses with Santa hats. The booming commercialism which has spread outward from Beijing has been called a Chinese phenomenon. It started out as a friendly gesture or business ploy aimed at Christian visitors.

    A festival of peace and renewal known as Ta Chiu is celebrated in Hong Kong. Taoists summon their gods and ghosts. People make offerings to their patron saints. Festivities close with the reading of the names of every person who lives in the area. The names are then listed, attached to a paper horse, and burned in hopes that they will rise to heaven.

    Although Christianity is unsanctioned in China, there are an estimated 10 million baptized Christians (about 1 percent of the population) who celebrate the birth of Jesus at Christmas time. The popularity of midnight mass has grown so swiftly over the past few years that most Catholic churches can not hold the numbers who come out Christmas Eve. Although a lot of those parishioners are just curious, the ministers believe it's a positive step toward the spread of Christianity throughout China. Naturally, they take the opportunity to tell the story of the baby Jesus born in a manger in Bethlehem.

     

    France

    On Christmas Eve, French children put their shoes (sabots) in front of the fireplace. They hope Pere Noel (Father Christmas) will fill them with presents. His partner Le PERE Fouettard (Father Spanker) would "reward" bad children with a spanking.

    The midnight service on Christmas Eve is traditionally followed by a meal called `le reveillon'. Sidewalk cafes and restaurants are open all night serving reveillon . Reveillon means to wake up, or first call of the day. So, Reveillon is a symbolic spiritual awakening to the meaning of Christ's birth. The meal can consist of oysters, sausages, wine, baked ham, roast fowl, salads, fruit and pastries. Christ cakes are baked and decorated with sugar to resemble the Holy Child. In south France a Christmas loaf (pain calendeau) is cut crosswise and is eaten only after the first part has been given to a poor person. In Alsace, a roasted goose has pride of place. In Brittany there are buckwheat cakes and sour cream. In Burgundy, turkey and chestnuts are eaten. In the Paris region oysters are the favorite dish, followed by a cake shaped like a Yule log. After the festivities, it is customary to leave a candle burning just in case the Virgin Mary passes that way.

    In northern France, children are given their gifts on December 6th, which is Saint Nicholas Day, instead of Christmas Day.

    Creche is a French word for manger or crib, and one little French town has become famous world-wide for its little figures used in Christmas cribs. It is Aubagne, a modest little Provenal town about halfway between Marseilles and Aix-en Provence, and is the home of the French Foreign Legion. Here craftsmen make unbaked clay figures called santons or `little saints'. These were started by Jean Louis Lagnel . He held his first Foire aux Santons, a `little saints festival', in 1803. It had included the regular nativity figures and sometimes a poacher - honored for enterprise, gendarme, a miller, a fishwife, a woman musician, and the village simpleton (le ravi).

     

    India

    Because of international influence on her people, India, perhaps, has the most cosmopolitan Christmas in the world.  Just to name a few: Christmas trees from Germany, ornaments from America, greeting cards from England, creches from France, books from Greece.

    Christmas is set against a background of scarlet poinsettia trees and tropical plants.  Children in brightly colored dresses, accompanied by an orchestra of drums and cymbals, perform group dances, using gaily colored sticks as they do their native dances.  Gifts are exchanged, especially with children, and servants, except baksheesh, which means coins.  In turn, servants present a lemon to the head of the household on Christmas morning, a symbol of high esteem, bearing wishes for a long life and prosperity.

    Indian Christians do not believe in short services.  The main service on Christmas Day is a midnight one which lasts from two to three hours, with hundred of communicants and many children all massed together on the floor. 

    In northwest India, the tribal Christians of the Bhil folk, an aboriginal people, go out night after night for a week at Christmas to sing their equivalent of carols the whole night through.

    In south India, Christians fill little clay lamps with oil and put a piece of twisted cotton in them for wicks.  Towards the evening they light these lamps and place them along the edge of the low flat- roofed houses and along the walls outside, so that the houses twinkle with light.  When non- Christians ask about this, it presents an opportunity to share the Christmas story.

     

    Indonesia

    Indonesia is today the world's fourth most populous country with about 210 million inhabitants with the Christian population constituting probably less than 10 percent of the total. Christmas, however, is well celebrated here. In some areas like, Central Jaya (especially in the tourist city of Yogyakarta) and Bali (where Hindu community constitute the vast majority of the Balinese), you will sometimes find the uniqueness of the local culture being mixed with traditional Christmas celebrations. This blend is a symbol of respect to both the local Indonesian culture and Christianity.

    In Jakarta, Indonesia's capital, the largest and oldest Cathedral in the country is located back to back with the largest Mosque. A unique tradition during Christmas season exists in which the Muslim community helps prepare for the celebration indirectly by preparing some parking space in the surrounding area that belongs to the mosque. At the other time, during the Muslim 'Hari Raya', the people from the Christian church help prepare parking spaces for the Muslim celebration. In Jakarta, parking space is something in constant demand and not simply affordable.

     

    Japan

    The popularity of Christmas began at the beginning of the 20th century. The Japanese became acquainted with the holiday because of the Christmas products they manufactured for other countries. For most of the Japanese who celebrate Christmas, it's purely a secular holiday devoted to the love of their children.

    Christmas decorations abound throughout the cities. Tinsel and lights are hung in dance halls, cafes, and pinball parlors where "modern- minded" Japanese go to celebrate. The trees are decorated with small toys, dolls, paper ornaments, gold paper fans and lanterns, and wind chimes. Miniature candles are also put among the tree branches. One of the most popular ornaments is the origami swan. Japanese children have exchanged thousands of folded paper "birds of peace" with young people all over the world as a pledge that war must not happen again.

    Many of the Japanese people take this time of the year to do special things for others. For instance, hospitals are decorated with a Christmas tree to lift the spirits of the sick. Children are chosen to sing carols to the patients. Others may even put on plays about the birth of Jesus.

    Japanese children call Santa, "Santa Kurohsu" and he is believed to have eyes in the back of his head so that he can watch the children all year long.

     

    New Zealand

    Christmas comes in summertime in New Zealand, just as it does in Australia. Families often celebrate by having a picnic at the beach. The shops are decorated with scenes familiar to countries like England - Father Christmas with his red cloak and white beard, snow scenes; all this means Christmas to many whose parents or grandparents came out of Europe.

     

    Source: http://christmas.com/worldview

     


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