Christmas Around The World

Canadians look forward to that time of year where carols are heard loudly in every store, when children have an “I need” list the size of themselves, and where families unite for a large feast, gift exchange and traditional carols. They rely heavily on the snow to accommodate that picture perfect time of year with the lights twinkling brightly on homes all in the name of the Christmas season

“…Joyful, all ye nations, rise, join the triumph of the skies, with the angelic host proclaim, ‘Christ is born in Bethlehem’…”

The City of Bethlehem celebrates Christmas Day in a very religious manner. The festivities begin with the traditional march. The parade has town folk and visitors crowding the streets, climbing rooftops and gathering on doorsteps in order to witness the parade. Within seconds, the streets are filled with Galloping horsemen and police leading the way on beautiful Arabian horses, followed closely by other horsemen carrying only a cross. The Churchmen and government officials are then next in line to march in this most prestigious parade. The procession is lead into the Church where an ancient image of Jesus is placed within a manger. In conjunction with the parade, Christians also celebrate Christmas Day by placing a silver star on their doors indicating the site of Jesus’ birth, and a homemade manger set up at the front of their homes. In the village square stands a pole with a brilliant glittering star shining bright for all to recognize the birthplace of Jesus.

“…Feliz Navidad, Feliz Navidad, Feliz Navidad, Prospero Ano y Felicidad”

In Mexico, preparation begin weeks in advance as markets richly decorate their stalls or “puestos” in the plazas of every town and city offering crafts of any kind, along with cheese, bananas, nuts, and cookies, and the traditional poinsettias. Back in the 17th century, the poinsettia became legend as a young boy named Pablo visited a town’s Nativity Scene with only a green flower found on the roadside. Pablo was teased for such an offering, but much to the surprise of him and bystanders, the green plant blossomed immediately into a brilliant shade of red and into the shape of a star. Since that time, the poinsettia has been the native flower of Mexico.

Called “Las Posadas”, a reenactment of the venture Mary and Joseph took in search for a place to stay, is the main Christmas celebration in Mexico. This commemoration begins nine days before Christmas, duplicating the days the journey took from Nazareth to Bethlehem. The reenactment involves residents traveling from house to house asking for a place to stay until they reach their destination where an alter and Nativity scene have been set up. Upon arrival there is rejoicing, prayer, and then the party begins, of course including a piñata for the children.

“…We three kings of Orient are, bearing gifts we traverse afar…”

In South America, elaborate scenes mimic the Holy Night when Jesus was born. With Wise Men crossing the dessert on their camels to hills full of shepherds, South Americans celebrate Christmas by honouring the “Presepio”, more commonly known to North Americans as the Manger. Most often, a whole room is devoted to the Presepio display, complete with landscape and tiny figurines made to scale.

“Viene viene la Befana, vien dai monti a notte fonda. Come è stanca! La circonda neve, gelo e tramontana. Viene viene la Befana…”

La Befana, meaning Epiphany, is the figure that children anxiously await the arrival of who brings gifts for the good. In view of the definition “La Befana” is said to visit on the eve of the Epiphany, therefore celebrating the exchanging of gifts on January 6th. Legend has it the Wise Men stopped along the way asking an old woman for shelter. The woman declined her home but shortly after, reconsidered, but was unable to find them. The Old Woman, La Befana, is said to be wandering the earth in search for the child of Christ Buon Natale!

“Deck the halls with boughs of holly, Fa la la la la la la la la…”

Similar to North Americans, the Japanese advertise gift ideas on TV, their stores scream red and green and pictures of the perfect present for men, women and children are plastered everywhere. Many homes in Japan experience Christmas with the very traditional Evergreen in their living room, along with mistletoe and sound of carols. Also, their Christmas Day feast includes a big juicy turkey.

The children await a visit from “Hoteiosho” who is depicted as a kind, older gentleman with eyes in the back of his head. However, the most important day on the Japanese calendar is New Year’s Day. The day in which the father, followed closely by the rest of the family, marches throughout the house, tossing dried beans in every corner believing that any evil spirits present will be lifted.

From La Befana and Hoteiosho to the Presepio and Santa Claus, every corner of the world celebrates Christmas with their own traditions. However, even in all our differences, we all share the same common belief: Christmas is a magical and brilliant time where families are joined and miracles come true. Merry Christmas!


4 Responses to “Christmas Around The World”

  1. Christmas Ideas for Men » Christmas Around The World

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  2. thomas julyan

    santa i want a motorbike and lots of yugioh cards.

  3. emma willmott

    i want a pair of g,s

  4. emma willmott

    i want a pare of shoes