Celebrating Christmas around the Globe …
Now that many towns and cities across the UK have already celebrated their big ‘Christmas Lights Switch On! we thought it was about time we started getting into the festive spirit too. To get us started, Amy from MapTheGap.co.uk has done some digging and given us a little insight into how some of our favourite countries celebrate Christmas…
“There are lots of things I like about travelling – but pretty high on my list is the opportunity to discover new cultures and understand different traditions across the globe. So, now that the festive season is almost upon us, I’ve been thinking about Christmas – and how the customs and rituals of this holiday differ so much from country to country. Here’s my guide to some of the most interesting Christmases celebrations around the world…
Portugal – Feliz Natal!
It might be a surprise to learn that in Portugal, everyone opens their presents on Christmas Eve! Whist Christmas Eve is a night of anticipation for some, in Portugal it’s a time for celebration and worship. Traditionally it is Baby Jesus who brings presents for the children – who leave their shoes in the fireplace for him to fill. However, the mythology of Santa Claus has steadily been creeping in from other countries over the years and traditional baby cots are being replaced by Christmas Trees. After the present opening, the family sits down to eat a traditional meal of salted cod. If that doesn’t sound too appetising, you will be happy to know they also tuck into lots of different sweets, nuts, wine and the all important ‘Bolo Rei’ or ‘King Cake’. After attending midnight mass the party lasts into the early hours of the morning, with the eating and drinking continuing until Boxing Day!
Australia – Merry Christmas Mate!
There’s no such thing as a white Christmas in Australia – the 25th of December is bang in the middle of their (very hot) summer holidays! Even so, Australians still celebrate Christmas in a similar way to the British, including decorating their homes with Christmas lights and singing carols by candlelight – but on the whole festivities are very laid back and each family follows their own particular traditions. Lots of families still eat turkey on Christmas Day too, but it will often be served cold. Others may embrace the summer spirit completely – by tucking into a big Christmas BBQ on the beach and drinking beer instead of mulled wine. Santa doesn’t let the heat put him off either – he just changes into some cooler clothes, and uses kangaroos instead of reindeer to drive the sleigh!
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Madagascar – Mirary Krismasy!
Madagascar enjoys hot Christmases too and instead of roasted chestnuts around the fire, they eat lots of exotic lychee fruits from street sellers – it’s their number one Christmas treat. Madagascans don’t spend all day opening presents – instead they spend a lot of their Christmas in church –attending a service at 5pm on Christmas Eve which lasts until midnight and another one on Christmas Day. Christmas lunch – chicken or pork with rice – is eaten together as a family, whilst wearing the Sunday best. It’s a very special meal because, in Madagascar, meat is expensive and a very special treat for families. Here, just like everywhere else Christmas is a time to spend with family and friends.
The Netherlands – Prettige Kerstfeest!
The Dutch probably have the longest celebration of Christmas out of everyone – it stretches on for almost a whole month. It begins with some very early present giving – and we mean really, really early. Like, 6th of December early! The 6th of December is the eve of St SinterklaasDay, otherwise known as St Nicholas’ Day. Although Dutch children do believe in Santa Claus too, it’s St Sinterklaas– who lives in Spain and travels by boat – that they wait up for. He will leave a bag of presents by the front door and if children leave hay and carrots out for his horse, they might even be left with some sweets too. After this, families start preparing for Christmas Day by putting up decorations and Christmas trees. When Christmas finally arrives, families celebrate for two days – lighting candles on the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve and then tucking into a big Christmas dinner on the 25th.”
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Written by Amy Heritage from mapthegap.co.uk
Who would have thought that Christmas could be celebrated so differently across the globe? What is your favourite way of marking this holiday? We’d love to hear about what you get up to wherever you are in the world…leave us your comments below!
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