The Christmas Season:
Christmas time has a way of uniting people worldwide regardless of linguistic and cultural diversities. It’s the season of giving, appreciation, and a time to exhibit a kind heart to our fellow man. People develop their own special Christmas customs and traditions, and as families grow they take pride in passing along these coveted practices to younger members. Most families in the United States usually prepare for Christmas by shopping for gifts, decorating a Christmas tree, leaving milk and cookies out for Santa and waking up Christmas morning to find gifts to exchange carefully placed under the glittering tree. There are festive gatherings and holiday meals as well as time spent at church services to honor the birth of baby Jesus. In light of the holiday season, we at Niki’s Int’l Ltd. thought it would be interesting to share just how other countries and cultures celebrate Christmas.
The English often complain that the the Christmas season starts earlier every year. With festivities beginning at the start of December, people use advent calendars and candles to count down the days until Christmas Eve when Father Christmas visits all the homes and leaves presents for the children on the good list. Snacks consisting of mince pie and biscuits as well as beer and whisky are left out for Santa and his reindeer. Many people attend Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve and church on Christmas morning. Large meals of turkey, gravy, stuffing, roasted potatoes, vegetables and Yorkshire puddings are consumed. The Queen gives a speech at 3:00 pm which is normally following by fun and oftentimes a nap.
The Philippines is the third largest Catholic nation world wide and are known for their love of the Christmas season, so much so that they normally put Christmas lights up right after Halloween. Christmas celebrations continue through to the First Sunday in January when Epiphany or the Feast of the Three Kings is celebrated. They begin their Christmas celebrations in September, with festive parols (a bamboo pole or frame with a lighted star lantern on it) hung brightly in windows. The lights represent the Star of Bethlehem and are named after the Spanish word for lantern, “farol” in which guided the three Wise Men. Christians attend church to hear the last simbang gabi or the Christmas Eve mass, which is followed by a feast at midnight called Noche Buena. The dinner normally includes dishes such as lechon (roasted pig), ham, fruit salad, rice cakes, bibingka and puto bumbong which are traditional Christmas foods as well as other sweets, steamed rice and many different types of drinks. Santa R-Kayma Klaws is a special 70 year old man of Irish descent who helps to spread Christmas cheer to poor Filipino children by dressing as Santa and driving a “giant motor sleigh” (an air conditioned bus). Santa R-Kayma Klaws has been dressing as Santa for charity missions and corporate events in poor areas of the Philippines for over 50 years.
Christmas in Japan is not a religious holiday, however they focus on the act of spreading happiness and joy. Christmas Eve in Japan is spent celebrating romance and young couples exchange gifts, eat well and gaze at the decorative lights. Fried chicken is normally eaten on Christmas day, oftentimes the KFC’s in Japan are overly busy with orders placed in advance as to ensure people get their fried chicken on Christmas day. Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and it’s final act the “Ode to Joy” is extremely popular around Christmas time, so much so its know as ‘daiku’ (which means number nine). Choirs sing it in German and one choir in Osaka which has 10,000 members is called the Number Nine Chorus. It’s thought the Ninth Symphony was first sung in Japan at Christmas by German prisoners of War in World War One and over the years it has grown in popularity.
Christmas, Culture and Traditions From Around the World; Part 2,” Posting Tuesday December 25th, 2018.
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