Hurray! It’s Christmas!! Hallelujah! Merry making, gift- giving, church attending that yummy turkey waiting to be devoured by yours truly – growling tummies and eager tongues, what can we say, Christmas is finally here and we can’t help but shout it loud, Amen!! Of course, since it’s a world celebration, different people get to celebrate the season differently. From eyebrow raising strange traditions and customs to heart melting sweet ones, we bring to you seven things people do in the name of celebrating Christmas;
1. The Philippines
Talk about an early Christmas, way…early! These folks stand tall on this list! Right after Halloween in September when no one is thinking about Christmas just yet, the Philippines are way ahead as they swiftly replace the Halloween decor with Christmas light. Think of the longest Christmas celebration in the world, think Philippines. Plus, they’ve got star-shaped lanterns, that brighten windows all through the hoilday season. The stat reflects the Star of Bethlehem. Cool right? But don’t get too comfortable, our next stop isn’t that welcoming.
Catalonia: Caganer; literally meaning- “the crapper” or “the shitter” and this isn’t pretty to say the least. How about a tradition of baring the backside, and defecating? Here in this side of Spain ( Catalonia) statuettes of well-known people defecating are a strong Christmas traditions. The tradition involves hiding the caganers in Christmas Nativity scenes ( a scene representing the birth of Jesus) and inviting friends to find them.
Notably, the statuettes which can be of regular people or notable personalities symbolize fertilization, hope and prosperity for the new year.
Want something yummy for Christmas? Well how about “Kiviak” – fermented birds? Not on your top choice menu I bet. While it might sound yuck to you, this seemingly delicious treat is one of Greenland’s top dish – Kiviak! How it’s made? Reports say – “put up to 500 whole auks (local birds) including feathers, beaks and all in a seal skin, which is then sewn up and sealed with grease. You put a large rock on top to keep the air content low and then you let the whole package sit for months. When you open it up the auks are fermented and smell like Stilton cheese apparently.” This tradition isn’t joked with in Greenland. Plus, in Greenland during Christmas night the men take over kitchen affairs looking after their chicks. Now isn’t that just awesome?
Christmas isn’t taken lightly in France, in fact Christians stay awake on Christmas Eve – “Reveillon” to usher in the memorable day. But get this right, it’s not a gloomy affair in the least, wine to make the heart merry served with a multi course meal in the very best China, yep, delicious. It’s a bountiful feast where friends and family gather after midnight to usher in Christmas. Sounds like a lot of fun doesn’t it? “In the south of France, 13 desserts, representing Jesus and the 12 apostles —are brought in cognisance with the season.
For the Christmas holidays in Japan, it’s all about KFC for Christmas dinner. Many Japanese homes celebrate with a bucket of KFC filled with fried chicken, the main dish at Christmas. But because of the rush of the festive season, you’ve got to order weeks in advance! KFC Japan makes massive sales during this period. In Japan, Christmas is acknowledged but not celebrated.
Christmas Straw Goats are big in Swedish Christmas celebrations. Set up every year in December, the Gävle Goat (giant decorative goat- measures 13 meters tall (43 feet) made of straw and wood) is usually vandalized or burnt down frequently in celebration. It was regarded as the giver of gift until Santa took over in the 20th century.
Needless to say, just a few Christians remain in Iraq. For the Iranian Christians, bonfires have a significant role to play as it is believed to give good fortune. The unusual ceremony is held by lighting up a fire made of dried thorns outside their homes. It is said that the future of the family’s house for the coming year depends on how the fire burns; if the thorns burn to ashes, it equates good fortune. When the fire is reduced to ashes, everyone jumps over the ashes three times and makes a wish. Interesting huh?
Well there you have it, a glimpse into Christmas celebrations around the world!
Merry Christmas everyone!