If you’re dreaming of a white Christmas, we all know you won’t find it here in New Zealand. While we step into our jandals and fire up the BBQ, others around the globe are celebrating Christmas in many different ways.
Christmas traditions come in all shapes and sizes. For many countries rich in history, they are also rich in custom.
Around the world, Christmas Day means different things to different cultures. But there’s one thing we all have in common, ‘tis the season to be jolly.
Let’s take a look at how other cultures celebrate around the world.
German Christmas traditions date right back to the middle ages. And although they’ve evolved slightly since then, these origins set a solid foundation for the way the people of Germany celebrate.
Germany can be thanked for the origins of the Advent calendar and the Christmas tree, both of which are now enjoyed across many Western countries.
Celebrations start on 6th December, Saint Nicholas Day or “Nikolaustag”. Children put a boot or shoe outside their door on the night of 5th December, following the German legend that St Nicholas will fill the shoes of good children with treats, and the shoes of bad children with twigs.
The German Christmas menu varies from region to region. With a decadent feast, you might see suckling pig, or roast duck, goose or rabbit with apple and sausage stuffing. Traditional sweet treats such as stollen, gingerbread, chocolate and marzipan are typically in abundance in German homes. Sounds like the perfect way to satisfy hungry bellies!
Christmas is more commonly known in Japan as a time to spread happiness rather than celebrate religious traditions.
To the outsider, celebrations in Japan are somewhat unusual. Fried chicken is often the dish of choice and it’s the busiest time of year for KFC! Thanks to KFC’s advertising campaigns, the Japanese believe this is a common dish for Westerners too.
The 25th is not a traditional celebration for the Japanese and therefore not considered a holiday. Schools and businesses are open on the 25th, however, they have a holiday on the day of the 23rd to celebrate the birthday of the current Emperor.
That’s not to say the Japanese don’t join the festivities. Their street decorations and giant Christmas trees are a tell-tale sign that they love this time of year as much as we do.
Christmas in Japan is largely based on how it is portrayed commercially in Western parts of the world. And because this day is so romanticized in movies, the Japanese celebrate their own version of Valentine’s Day on the 24th of December. Bookings at upmarket restaurants or hotels on this night are very much in demand.
For almost 400 years, Christmas celebrations were banned in Scotland. It all started under the rule of Oliver Cromwell in the mid-1600s and was heavily discouraged by the Scottish Presbyterian Church for the next four centuries.
Before the ban, Scotland was alive with festivities and traditions. Yule bread was a holiday favourite, however, bakers were required to give the names of anyone requesting the bread, once the ban was in place.
Things changed and Christmas day became a public holiday in 1958! But the Scots made the best of a bad situation with Hogmanay, four days of New Year’s celebrations that brightened the cold, dark winter.
Today, much of Scottish traditions are adapted from England. With a feast of black buns, whiskey, roast duck and plum pudding, the Scots sure know how to make up for lost time.
To say the Danes love Christmas is an understatement. In fact, every day of December is celebrated in one way or another.
Santa Lucia and Christmas Eve are the highlights of Danish celebrations.
On December 13, Santa Lucia or St Lucy’s Day commemorates the third-century martyr, St Lucy, the Catholic Saint of Light. Girls dress as St Lucy in a crown of candles and white robes and sing traditional Danish songs. It is believed that by enacting a vivid celebration of Santa Lucia, it will help bring light to dark winter days.
The Christmas feast is the centre point for celebrations in Danish homes. On Christmas Eve, roast pork, duck or goose might be served and followed by the traditional ‘ris à l’amande’ (cold rice pudding) or ‘risengrød’ (hot rice pudding).
Christmas is celebrated from 13th December to 6th January in Mexico. Traditional celebrations are heavily based around Posada, meaning ‘inn or lodging’, which acknowledges the part in the Christmas story where Joseph and Mary are looking for a place to stay.
From 16th December to Christmas Eve, children perform posada processions where they are each given candles and clay nativity figures, and go from door to door singing songs of Joseph and Mary. The idea is that children will be told to go away, as were Joseph and Mary, until they are eventually allowed inside. Once inside the house they celebrate with food, games and fireworks.
You will see nativity scenes “nacimiento” in most Mexican homes during Christmas and in public areas, these scenes can be life size. Although the Christmas tree is becoming popular, nacimiento is Mexico’s decoration of choice.
The Rosca de Reyes (Three Kings Cake) is a traditional dish where a baby Jesus is hidden somewhere inside the cake. Whomever finds the baby Jesus, is the Godparent for the year and must take care of him.
“Merry Christmas” or “Meri Kirihimete” from New Zealand
As a relatively young country, New Zealand Christmas traditions are taken from all over the globe. That’s not to say Christmas isn’t a big deal in New Zealand. In fact, it’s quite the contrary. Hints of Christmas start as early as October.
We may not have medieval traditions or a signature dish, but there’s something about playing back yard cricket while waiting for the Christmas BBQ that makes the Kiwi Christmas truly unique.
There is so much to love about having Christmas in the summer time.
Seeing families at the beach after a full day of unwrapping presents and feasting on roast turkey, is just one of the many delightful parts of Christmas Day. And as a small country, it’s the time of year where we come together and spread the joy as wide as we can.
Here at Party Bus, we love the festive season. And we especially love bringing joy to other people.
If you’re looking for a fun way to celebrate in the days leading up to Christmas, take a look at our range of party ideas.
We would love to be part of your celebrations so give us a call today!
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