Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, be plenteous in mercy is to have the real spirit of Christmas. Calvin Coolidge.

Monday, 19 November 2012


There are lots of Christmas traditions that are practiced by a number of countries all over the world during the holiday season. These traditions can be as diverse as the culture and religious practices of each and every country in the world.

What Christmas traditions do you know?

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  1. I want to tell you how Christmas is celebrated in India! Christians in India decorate banana or mango trees. They also light small oil-burning lamps as Christmas decorations and fill their churches with red flowers.

    They give presents to family members and baksheesh, or charity, to the poor people.

    In India, the poinsettia is in flower and so the churches are decorated with this brilliant bloom for the Christmas Midnight Mass.

    In South India, Christians put small clay lamps on the rooftops and walls of their houses at Christmas, just as the Hindus do during their festival called Diwali.

  2. I think it's very interesting how people celebrate Christmas in Switzerland too.
    A tinkling of a silver bell heralds the arrival of Christkindli - a white clad angel, with a face veil held in place by a jeweled crown. The tree candles are lit as she enters each house and hands out presents from the basket held by her child helpers.

    The week before Christmas, children dress up and visit homes with small gifts. Bell ringing has become a tradition, and each village competes with the next when calling people to midnight mass. After the service, families gather to share huge homemade doughnuts called ringli and hot chocolate.

    In Switzerland, the Chlausjagen Festival or Feast of St. Nichohlas is celebrated at dusk on 6 December with a procession of "lifeltrager' wearing gigantic illuminated lanterns in the shape of a Bishop's mitre on their heads.

    The Swiss wait for the Christ child called Christkindli, to arrive with gifts for all in his reindeer-drawn sleigh.

    In Switzerland, during the holiday season the Star Singers or Sternsingers dressed as the Three Kings parade through the streets of cities and towns singing Christmas songs.

    In Zurich, Santa visits in a special fairytale tram and gives the children a ride through the city, singing songs with them and sharing a basket full of sweets.

  3. So many countries, so many customs. We already know how people celebrate Christmas in India and Switzerland, so let's see how they celebrate it in Japan!
    Only 1 per cent of Japanese people believe in Christ. Even so, most Japanese people decorate their stores and homes with evergreens during Christmas.

    They enjoy giving each other gifts, and this is the part they celebrate.

    They have a Buddhist monk called Hotei-osho who acts like Santa Claus. He brings presents to each house and leaves them for the children. Some think he has eyes in the back of his head, so children try to behave like he is nearby.

    Among the Christian Japanese Christmas is not a day for the family. They do not have turkey or plum pudding, rather than that the day is spent doing nice things for others especially those who are sick in hospitals.

    Christmas for those in Sunday schools is the happiest day of the year. On Christmas Eve or Christmas night, the children put on programs that last for hours, they sing, they recite and they put on a drama of the day Jesus was born in Bethlehem.

    Most children may not like Hotei-osho so they may receive their presents from Santa who goes around with a red-nosed reindeer.

  4. In Italy, instead of writing letters to Santa Claus asking for presents (or, in the digital age, e-mailing Santa Claus), Italian children write letters to tell their parents how much they love them. The letter is normally placed under their father's plate and read after Christmas Eve dinner has been finished.

    Urn of Fate: An old tradition in Italy calls for each member of the family to take turns drawing a wrapped gift out of a large ornamental bowl until all the presents are distributed.

    Zampognari and Pifferai: In Rome and surrounding areas bagpipers and flute players, in traditional colorful costumes of sheepskin vests, knee-high breeches, white stockings and long dark cloaks, travel from their homes in the Abruzzi mountains to entertain crowds of people at religious shrines.

    Instead of Santa Claus Italian children are expecting La Befana: Kindly old witch who brings children toys on the Feast of the Epiphany, January 6. According to the legend of la Befana, the Three Wise Men stopped at her hut to ask directions on their way to Bethlehem and to invite her to join them. She refused, and later a shepherd asked her to join him in paying respect to the Christ Child. Again she refused, and when night fell she saw a great light in the skies.

    No meat is eaten for twenty-four hours before Christmas Eve, but
    there follows a meal as big as the family can afford. A special New
    Year Banquet is eaten on the last day of the year, with raisin bread,turkey, chicken, rabbit, and spaghetti. Champagne is the drink of the evening.

  5. Orthodox Christians fast for 40 days preceding the Nativity of Christ. The most strict fasting happens on Christmas Eve. Nothing is eaten on Christmas Eve until the first star appears in the sky. The traditional meal consists of 12 meatless dishes, but the central element of the celebrations on Christmas Eve is a sweet grain pudding called kutia. Many people attend the Divine Liturgy, the analog of Christmas Midnight Mass in Catholicism, were vespers are observed. A period of celebrations lasting eleven days called Svyatki ensues after the Christmas Day. Svyatki are a weird combination of both Christian and pagan traditions that stem from historical interconnections between the two religious philosophies in most Eastern European Orthodox states.

  6. Christmas in Wales

    The Welsh are great lovers of music and so every year at Christmas, carol singing is the most enjoyed activity. In the churches, they are sung to the harp. They are sung in people's homes around the Christmas tree and at the doors and windows of the houses.

    Caroling is called eisteddfodde and is often accompanied by a harp. In some rural areas a villager is chosen to be the Mari llwyd. This person travels around the town draped in white and carrying a horse's skull on a long pole. Anyone given the "bite" by the horse's jaws must pay a fine.

    Christmas is spent with lots of people gathering in the public square for the announcement of who, during the year, has won the prize for submitting the best music for a new carol, and the formal pronouncement of it as the carol of the year. This carol is now added to those already known and sung in Wales.

    Taffy making is one of the most important of the Welsh Christmas. This involves the making of the special kind of chewy toffee from brown sugar and butter. It is boiled and then pulled so that it becomes lovely and glossy. The Christmas goose is also essential.

    The Welsh people maintain most of the traditional customs associated with England such as holly, mistletoe, pudding, carols, Christmas stockings, oranges, crackers and lots of snow.

    The carolers make their rounds at dawn on Christmas morning, and families wake from sleep and ask them in for refreshments.

  7. Christmas traditions and celebrations in Israel.

    Christmas in Israel is celebrated both by the locals as well as foreigners with same merriment and enthusiasm as in other parts of the world.

    The Jewish celebration of Hanukkah falls at approximately the same time, but it has not undergone the same osmosis of Christmas-like practices (such as exchange of gifts) that the holiday has in the United States and Europe.

    Although Christianity is a minority in Israel, Christmas is important due to the region's significance as the place where Jesus lived, and as a destination for Christian pilgrims around the world, especially during Christmas time. Large number of pilgrims from various nooks and corners of the world come to Bethlehem in Israel at the time of Christmas in Israel.They crowd the Manger Square and enjoy the Christmas atmosphere. Many go into the fields where the shepherds heard the good news of Jesus birth. Early in the evening, members of the Protestant church groups would go around singing carols. On Christmas morning children would open their presents before breakfast. After breakfast Protestant people would go to church, and visit friends to wish them a happy Christmas.

    One of the unique features of Christmas in Israel is that there are three Christmas Eves in the Holy Land. On the 24th December Christmas is celebrated by the Protestant and Catholic Churches. The second celebration is for the Greek Orthodox, Coptic or Egyptian and Syrian churches. The third is celebrated by the Armenian Church. Services are conducted at the same time but by following various methods and customs and in different languages. To celebrate Christmas in Israel the people in lunch eat turkey, spiced with pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg and stuffed with rice, meat, pine nuts and almonds.

  8. Traditions of Christmas in Singapore.

    It would be very wrong to conclude that Christmas is not a popular festival in Asian countries.

    Christmas is considered as a public holiday in Singapore. People of various religions celebrate this festival with full of energy and enthusiasm.

    Singapore Christmas traditions are a bit different from the Christmas traditions of other countries. Christmas traditions of Singapore have its own variations as per the culture and customs of this island city.

    This place is popular for its extensive lightings and decorations at the time of Christmas. You will experience a sort of refreshing festive mood in the air. The festival of Christmas in Singapore is celebrated by organizing several types of programs and events like music performances, extravagant shopping sale, cruises, extensive lighting, caroling, parades, concerts, traditional dance shows and many more such types of events.

    It is difficult to describe the lighting displays of the popular shopping hub of Singapore, that is, Orchard Road. They are simply stunning and travelers belonging to different regions come to Singapore during Christmas to have a glimpse of the festival of lights.

    Another most wonderful aspect of the celebrations of Christmas in Singapore is that this is the time for the biggest shopping sale of the year. In fact it wouldn’t be wrong to say that this popular tradition of Christmas in Singapore is actually a boom time especially for the retailers.

    Moreover, in the last working day just before the vacation of Christmas, several local companies organize gift exchanging programs. Big influence of the Christmas traditions followed in America is witnessed in the Christmas celebrations in Singapore.

    The concept of turkey dinner and the exquisite decorations of Christmas are the influences of the Western Christmas traditions.

  9. In South America, Christmas is observed very religiously and people devote ample time to visit churches and cathedrals. Christmas season is more a feast to honor Mother Earth and a means to ask her for blessings to keep away plagues. Unlike other countries or continents, it is difficult to find a Christmas tree in South America however the creche or Presepio is displayed in a room to represent the birth of the 'Christ Child'. This tradition is very popular. Gifts and toys for the little ones are exchanged during the holidays after which the Presepio is removed. As part of the celebrations for Christmas, there are fire crackers, brass bands and dancing seen in the streets. At midnight, people go for a midnight mass after which they enjoy a dinner with their families. Read on to know more about how the famous festival of Christmas is celebrated in South America.

    South American Christmas Customs

    The customs that Brazilians follow are quite similar to the ones followed in the United States of America or the United Kingdom. On the eve of Christmas, families sit together and enjoy a meal before they attend the midnight mass. Children desperately wait for their gifts and put their shoes out for Papa Noel who fills them with presents. In Brazil, it's usually a grand feast of chicken, salad, ham, rice, turkey and pork accompanied by beer and fresh fruits for Christmas.

    The Catholics of Chile observe nine days of prayers, accompanied by fasting, prior to Christmas. The feast on Christmas Eve is consumed quite late, after attending the midnight mass or "Misa del Gallo". The feast consists of turkey, salads, olives, seafood along with some local wine to go with the main course. The dessert is sweet bread specially made during Christmas along with cake, cookies and fruits. In this part of the world, the act of exchanging gifts is called "Viejo Pascuero" and Santa Claus is known as Old Man Christmas.

    Here, the celebrations take place on the 24th of December as Argentineans believe that Christ was born on this day. People go to church, spend time as a family and then enjoy a grand feast. The Christmas dinner here is replete with pork, turkey and a variety of local dishes. After the feast, adults enjoy dancing while youngsters get ready to watch the fireworks.

    In Venezuela, before children sleep on January 5th, they leave some straw and water beside their bed for the Magi and her camels. These supplies are replaced by gifts in the morning. If kids find a black smudge on their cheek, they believe it to be Balthazar, the King of Ethiopia who is supposed to have kissed them while they were asleep, as a sign of good fortune. Venezuelans still follow the custom of attending one of the nine carol services and their Christmas feast revolves around turkey and its varied forms of preparations.

    In Peru, Christmas translates into markets getting busy selling gift items and decorations for Nativity acts that are conducted by most of families. Although, the Christmas Eve service is a quiet affair, markets make up for the lack of hoopla in the form of resounding music and songs. Children get gifts on Christmas as well as on January 6th which is considered to be the feast of the Three Kings. Christmas festivities extend to food also which is quite traditional in its usage of turkey and pork as the main meats.

    The laid back South America wakes up with a pleasant start in the Yuletide season and then celebrates Christmas in a way that is both typically traditional and reasonably modern

    1. Christmas Celebrations In Brazil
      During Christmas, people have lots of fruits and nuts and the dishes mainly comprise of turkey, rice and vegetables. Codfish and Christmas turkey with white rice acts as the main course. People usually enjoy beer and natural juices while spending time with their families.
      For a sweet treat, people in Brazil eat rabanadas which is a French toast in cinnamon and sugar. Also chocolate cakes, panettones (sweet bread) and fruits salads are consumed with sheer delight.
      While serving food, the table is remarkably decorated with fruits to make it look colorful. Pineapples, watermelons and bananas are used liberally.
      Since it’s hard to find pine trees in Brazil, Brazilians set up Christmas trees with the assistance of electric lighting. Brazil still lays claim to the world record of having the biggest Christmas tree in the world.
      All members of the family gather around the tree and play games, sing songs and have a great time together. When the clock strikes twelve, all the lights except for the one on the Christmas tree are switched off. With the start of the fireworks, Papa Noel (Father Noel) who brings gifts in Brazil appears before the children with a handful of gifts and enquires whether they have behaved themselves throughout the year.
      The feast is initially laid out to the children so that they can go to sleep and wait for Papa Noel to fill their shoes with gifts and chocolates. In some places, families give gifts to other families and it gets late before everyone returns back from the celebrations.
      On the eve of Christmas, depending on individual religious interests, people attend the midnight mass, also called “Missa Do Galo”.
      Though this time of the year is very hot for the country, the people of Brazil do not miss out on the fun part of playing with snow. They use little white cotton wool to decorate pine trees to make up for the lack of real snow. People return home to sumptuous feasts and some even go to the beach to spend time with family and friends.
      The next day being December 25th, or Christmas Day, Brazilians usually wake up late and attend mass.
      Folk dance and songs are quite common in Brazil. The celebrations can go on till January 6th which is regarded as the “Three Kings Day”. It is named so because it is believed that, on this day, the three wise men visited Jesus to bring him gifts.

  10. Christmas in Saudi Arabia. The phrase doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. But celebrating the holiday in some areas of the kingdom is possible as long as expatriates use a subtle approach.

    Christmas has always been kept under wraps in the kingdom as a holiday celebrated in the privacy of one’s own home. There are no church services in the Land of the Two Holy Mosques, but private services are held in Christian homes and residential compounds. Holiday parties complete with festive decorations are commonplace in virtually all the compounds, although they are usually kept indoors.

    Outward displays of non-Muslim religious symbols can lead to nasty experiences with the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, but a personal copy of the Bible is allowed into the country.

    Saudi attitudes toward Christmas vary, however.

    “We had Saudi friends with kids who had lived abroad and used to enjoy Christmas, not as a religious holiday, but as a social one,” says a 41-year-old Christian Arab-American, who lives in the port city of Jeddah and asked not to be identified because of the sensitive nature of Christian holidays in the country.

    Given the pressure to keep one’s faith close to the vest, celebrating Christmas for Saudi Arabia’s 1.2 million Christians is a tricky proposition.

    An American blogger who writes under the name Susie’s Big Adventure told The Media Line her early Christmases were unlike any she had ever experienced. “My first two Christmases in Saudi Arabia were pretty non-existent, except for my son and I watching our favorite Christmas movies all day,” says Susie, who is married to a Saudi.

    Subsequent holidays brightened when she purchased a small tree, lights and glass ornaments. “Our Christmases have been very low key,” she adds.

    Yet Christians celebrating Christmas and the retailers who cater to the expatriate population, which numbers about eight million, have taken a page from the St. Valentine’s Day playbook to ensure that all the trappings of the holiday are recognized: Christmas tree ornaments, tinsel, colorful wrapping paper, material for Santa Claus suits and food.

    To cater to the increasing popularity of St. Valentine’s Day, florists traditionally stock up on red roses. Lingerie shops carry more stock and prominently display playful red and white-laced lingerie. Christmas celebrations in some regions of Saudi Arabia follow a similar pattern with varying degrees of success. Riyadh and the rural villages and towns are barren of any signs of Christmas. And Medina and Mecca are closed to non-Muslims. However, cosmopolitan Jeddah and communities in the Eastern Province are islands that subtly mark the holiday.

  11. Christmas in the Near East

    On Christmas Eve, Iraqi Christian families gather together and one of the children read about the birth of Jesus while other family members hold lighted candles. Afterward the reading, a bonfire of thorn bushes is let and everyone sings. If the thorns burn to ashes, good luck will be granted for the coming year. When the fire dies, each person jumps over the ashes three times and makes a wish. On Christmas Day another bonfire is lit in the churchyard. The bishop, carrying a figure of the Baby Jesus leads the service. Afterwards he blesses one person with a touch. That person touches the person next to him or her and the touch is passed around until all present have felt the "touch of peace."


    Christmas in Iran is known as the Little Feast. For the first 25 days of December, a great fast is observed, during which no meat, eggs, milk, or cheese is eaten. It is a time of peace and meditation; a time for attending services at the church. When the fast is over, the feast is begun, for plenty of meat is prepared for the Christmas dinner.

    Christmas Eve is the last day of the fast. Almost before dawn on Christmas Day, the people attend Mass to receive Communion and it is not until they have received this Communion that they are permitted to break fast.

    The boys and girls of Iran have never heard of Santa Claus, so they do not exchange gifts at Christmas. But they do receive new clothes, which they proudly wear all during the happy Christmas week.

    A dish eaten for Christmas day is a kind of chicken stew called 'harasa'. It is cooked in large quantities and lasts several days.

  12. What about Christmas in Latin America?)))

    Christmas in Latin America known as Las Posadas, Navidad and Dia de los Tres Reyes. Throughout the season are a lot of bright flowers and brilliant nights. They celebrate with holiday foods, songs. Those songs and foods eaten are greatly influenced by the different indigenous people of the region but all share the strong Latin influence dating from the arrival of Roman Catholicism hundreds of year’s ago.

    Christmas is very much a religious holiday centered around the age-old story of the Nacimiento, Christ's Child.

    Santa Claus is not predominant, but the bright red suit is represented in the traditional flower of the season. This flower is the poinsettia, which has a brilliant red star-shaped bloom. It is believed that a young boy walking to the church to see the nativity scene showing the birth of Jesus had realized on the way that he had no gift to offer the Christ child so he gathered up some plain green branches as he walked in he was laughed at but upon placing the branches near the manger they started to bloom a bright red poinsettia flower on each branch.)))

  13. Christmas in Brazil

    Brazilians are a mix of different ethnic people, and as a former Portuguese colony, they have many Christmas customs which originate from this heritage.

    One tradition is to create a nativity scene or Presйpio. The word originates from the Hebrew word "presepium" which means the bed of straw upon which Jesus first slept in Bethlehem. The Presйpio is common in northeastern Brazil. Nowadays presйpios are set up in December and displayed in churches, homes, and stores.

    Papai Noel or Father Noel is the gift-bringer in Brazil. According to legend, he lives in Greenland. When he arrives in Brazil, he usually wears silk clothing due to the summer heat.

    A huge Christmas dinner includes turkey, ham, colored rice, and wonderful vegetables and fruit dishes.

    Devout Catholics often attend Midnight Mass or Missa do Galo. The mass has this name because the rooster announces the coming day and the Missa do Galo finishes at 1 AM on Christmas morning! On December 25th, Catholics go to church, but the masses are mostly late afternoon, because people enjoy sleeping late after the dinner called Ceia de Natal or going to the beach.

    Decorations include fresh flowers picked from the garden. Fireworks go off in the skies over the cites and huge Christmas "trees" of electric lights can be seen against the night skies in major cities such as Brasilia, San Paolo, and Rio de Janeiro.

    In Brazil there is folk dancing and singing and the festivities go on until January 6th, which the Brazilians refer to as Three Kings Day. January 6th is supposed to be the day when three wise men visited Jesus to bring him gifts.

  14. Czech Republic

    On Christmas Eve, unmarried Czech women practice a traditional fortune telling method to predict their relationship status for the upcoming year. If you’d like to give this a try, here’s how to do it: Stand with your back to your door and toss one of your shoes over your shoulder. If it lands with the toe facing the door it means that you will get married within the year. If it lands with the heel facing the door, you’re in for another year of unmarried status.


    Caga Tió, the pooping log, is a bizarre and widespread Christmas tradition in Catalonia. It starts with a hollowed out log, which is propped up on four little leg-like sticks and then painted to have a face. Every night, beginning December 8th, Caga Tió is “fed” and covered with a blanket (so that he doesn’t catch a cold). On Christmas Eve or Christmas day Caga Tió is put in the fireplace, beaten with a stick and ordered to “poop”. He is encouraged, along with the beating, by singing songs with catchy lyrics such as:

    caga tió (poop log)
    caga torró (poop turrón)
    avellanes i mató (hazelnuts and cottage cheese)
    si no cagues bé (if you don’t poop well)
    et daré un cop de bastó. (I’ll hit you with a stick.)
    caga tió!" (poop log!)

    When he is done pooping candies, nuts and such, Caga Tió will then give one last push to reveal an onion, a head of garlic or a salt herring.


    Norwegian legend says that on Christmas Eve witches and evil spirits come out looking for brooms to ride on (a bad omen). To thwart the witches, all brooms in the house are hidden and men go outside and fire a shotgun to scare the bad spirits away.


    In Caracas, Venezuela, church-goers attend an early morning mass between December 16th and December 24th. Not so strange for a mostly Catholic population. What is unusual about this practice is how everyone gets to church: on roller skates. The streets are blocked off to vehicular traffic until 8 am and children, the night before, tie one end of a piece of string to their big toes and hang the other end out the window. As roller skaters go by the next morning, they give a tug to all the strings hanging out the windows.

  15. Until recently, Christmas was never considered much of a holiday in Greece. But in recent years things have slowly changed and now the occassion is celebrated lavishly. The Christmas season in Greece now begins on December 6th, which is Saint Nicolas day, and ends on January 6th, the day of Epiphany. Celebrations really pick-up as Christmas day gets closer, usually from the 20th of December. Streets are packed with people buying Christmas gifts for their loved ones, as well as Christmas carolers singing Christmas songs. Festive shopping continues way after Christmas Day, what with New Year's Day following up the festival.

    In major cities and towns of Greece, dazzling decorations are made with brilliant lights strung across most of the streets. Shops are decorated with all the usual Christmas ornaments, and the festive mood is apparent.

    Most of the Christmas traditions in Greece are more or less similar to the West. A popular tradition is small village children travelling from house to house on Christmas Eve singing 'kalanda', the equivalent of Christmas carols and offering their good wishes. In return they recieve dried figs, almonds, walnuts, lots of sweets, coins, small gifts and other tokens of appreciation. Sometimes they are given small gifts as well.

    A number of rituals are associated with the observance of the festival in Greece. One well-known custom is hanging a sprig of basil wrapped around a wooden cross in a shallow wooden bowl. Once during the day, a family member, usually the mother, dips the cross and basil into some holy water and uses it to sprinkle water in each room of the house. This ritual is believed to keep the 'Killantzaroi' (mischievous spirits) away. Another ritual performed to get the same benefit is keeping the hearth burning at all times throughout the twelve days. Gift-giving takes place on St. Basil's Day (January 1). On this day all water jugs in the house are emptied and refilled with new "St. Basil's Water." The ritual is known as the "renewal of waters".

    Christmas trees are not commonly used in Greece. But these days, in most Greek homes an evergreen tree is decorated with tinsel and a star placed on top. Priests sometimes go from house to house sprinkling holy water around to get rid of the bad spirits who may be hiding in people's houses.

    The feast is a grand attraction of the Greek Christmas festivities and greatly awaited by adults and children alike. The menu includes such dishes as roasted Lamb and pork along with loaves of spicy golden 'christopsomo' ('Christ bread'). This bread is usually made in large sweet loaves of various shapes and their crusts are indicative of the profession of the family.

  16. Christmas in France is a time for get togethers with family and friends. It is a time to worship together, dine together and enjoy together.

    Arranging the Nativity scene is a popular custom associated with the French Christmas season. During Christmas, nearly every home in the country displays a Nativity scene or creche which is the center of Christmas celebrations for families. Little clay figures called "santons" or "little saints" are placed in the creche. The "santons" are made by craftsmen in the south of France throughout the year. Throughout the Christmas season, the figures are sold at annual Christmas fairs in Marseille and Aix.

    On Christmas Eve, children put out in the hearth their shoes or wooden clogs called sabots to be filled with gifts from Pere Noel, the French equivalent of the British Father Christmas and the American Santa Claus. The apparel of Pere Noel is akin to the older garb of Santa Claus in a long red hooded robe, edged with white fur. His presents are carried not in a sack, but in a basket or hotte on his back, like those carried by grape harvesters. Pere Noel is said to travel with his stern disciplinarian companion Pre Fouettard who reminds him how each child has behaved during the past year. A popular Christmas song for French children is Petit Papa Noel. Children write letters to Pere Noel in the hope of getting presents from him. Their wishes are fulfilled when they wake up in the morning to find not only their gifts but also sweets, fruit, nuts and small toys hanging somewhere closeby. Adults generally wait until New Year's Day to exchange gifts.

    On the eve of Christmas churches and cathedrals are beautifully lit with candles, church bells are rung and Christmas carols are sung by all present. In cathedral squares, the story of Christ's birth is re-enacted by both players and puppets. On Christmas Eve, after the midnight mass is over, a very late supper known as "Le reveillon" is held. The menu for the meal varies from region to region within the country. While goose is the main course in Alsace, it is oysters and pat de foie gra in Paris. In Burgundy it is turkey with chestnuts. The "buche de Nol", meaning "Christmas Log", is a traditional Yule log-shaped cake specially prepared here for Christmas and is an indispensable part of the grand French Christmas feast. Le Revellion may consist of poultry, ham, salads, cake, fruit and wine.

    The custom of Christmas tree decoration has never been that popular in France. The use of the Yule log has faded in the country, though in the southern parts a log is burned in individual homes from Christmas Eve until New Years Day.

    Once dinner is over family members retire to bed but not before laying food and drinks on the table and leaving a fire burning. This is believed to be in honour of Virgin Mary who is supposed to visit homes during Christmastime.

  17. Bethlehem is the town where Jesus Christ is said to have been born. Naturally, Christmas here is a major event and the festival is celebrated in a grand manner.

    Here, Christmas Day is observed not on a particular day. Bethlehem consists of people of different Christian denominations - Catholics, Protestants, Greek Orthodoxes, Ethiopians, Armenians and more.
    While Roman Catholics and Protestants celebrate Christmas Day on December 25, Greek, Syrian and other Orthodox Christians observe it on 6th January. For Armenian Christians, Christmas Day is on January 18. Hence, Bethlehem witnesses a longer Christmas celebrations than many other places.

    In Bethlehem, Roman Catholic services begin on December 24 and take place in St. Catherine's Church , a Catholic church adjacent to the Orthodox Basilica of the Nativity. Protestants hold their services in a different way. While some of them may attend special Christmas services in their local churches, others may arrange excursions for special services in the Shepherd's Fields or the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. Some of the popular Jerusalem chuches such as The Anglican Cathedral of St. George, the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer and the YMCA organize travel to Bethlehem for Christmas Eve celebrations. Orthodox Christians(Greek Orthodox, Syrian Orthodox, Coptic Orthodox, Romanian Orthodox and others) celebrate the birth of Jesus by taking out numerous religious processions and holding special services mainly at the Basilica of the Nativity. Most Armenian Christmas services are also held in the Basilica, albeit a little later, on January 18. The Christmas processions usually pass through Manger Square, believed to be situated on the traditional site of Jesus' birth.

    The general Christmas traditions in Bethlehem are similar to the Europeans and North American customs observed during the festival. From a few days before 25th December, the town is decorated with flags and other items of adornment. Streets are strung with Christmas lights. A Christmas market comes up and Christmas plays are performed. A cross is painted on the doors of every Christian home and Nativity scenes are displayed in every household.

    On Christmas Eve, annual Christmas processions are taken out. Residents of the town as well as tourists crowd the doorways and the roof of the Basilica to get a view of the parade. Galloping horsemen and police mounted on Arabian horses lead the procession. The procession is led by galloping horsemen and police mounted over Arabian horses; followed by a man riding over a black steed and carrying a cross. After him comes the churchmen and government officials. The procession quitely enters the doors and puts an ancient effigy of the Holy Child in the Church. The visitors are then taken through deep winding stairs leading to a grotto where a silver star marks the site of the birth of Jesus.

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  19. Christmas in Australia!)
    Christmas in Australia is often very hot. Whereas the northern hemisphere is in the middle of winter, Australians are baking in summer heat. It is not unusual to have Christmas Day well into the mid 30 degrees Celsius, or near 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

    A traditional meal includes a turkey dinner, with ham, and pork. A flaming Christmas plum pudding is added for dessert. In the Australian gold rushes, Christmas puddings often contained a gold nugget. Today a small favor is baked inside. Whoever finds this knows s/he will enjoy good luck. Another treat is Mince Pies.

    Some Australians and particularly tourists often have their Christmas dinner at midday on a local beach, Bondi Beach in Sydney's Eastern Suburbs attracts thousands of people on Christmas Day. Other families enjoy their day by having a picnic. If they are at home, the day is punctuated by swimming in a pool, playing Cricket out the backyard, and other outdoor activities.

    The warm weather allows Australians to enjoy a tradition which commenced in 1937. Carols by Candlelight is held every year on Christmas Eve, where tens of thousands of people gather in the city of Melbourne to sing their favorite Christmas songs. The evening is lit by as many candles singing under a clean cut night sky. The sky with its Southern Cross stars is like a mirror. Sydney and the other capital cities also enjoy Carols in the weeks leading up to Christmas.

    Australians surround themselves with Christmas Bush, a native plant which has little red flowered leaves.

    Christmas shopping is often done in shorts and t-shirts. At many beaches Santa Claus arrives on a surfboard, or even on a surf lifesaving boat

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  21. Christmas in Spain
    Christmas is a deeply religious holiday in Spain. The country's patron saint is the Virgin Mary and the Christmas season officially begins December 8, the feast of the Immaculate Conception. It is celebrated each year in front of the great Gothic cathedral in Seville with a ceremony called los Seises or the "dance of six." Oddly, the elaborate ritual dance is now performed by not six but ten elaborately costumed boys. It is a series of precise movements and gestures and is said to be quite moving and beautiful.

    Christmas Eve is known as Nochebuena or "the Good Night." It is a time for family members to gather together to rejoice and feast around the Nativity scenes that are present in nearly every home. A traditional Christmas treat is turron, a kind of almond candy.

    December 28 is the feast of the Holy Innocents. Young boys of a town or village light bonfires and one of them acts as the mayor who orders townspeople to perform civic chores such as sweeping the streets. Refusal to comply results in fines which are used to pay for the celebration.

    The children of Spain receive gifts on the feast of the Epiphany. The Magi are particularly revered in Spain. It is believed that they travel through the countryside reenacting their journey to Bethlehem every year at this time. Children leave their shoes on the windowsills and fill them with straw, carrots, and barley or the horses of the Wise Men. Their favorite is Balthazar who rides a donkey and is the one believed to leave the gifts.

    The Spanish Christmas is Navidad, people go to church, exchange presents, and many play on swing sets set up especially for the occasion. Swinging at solstice time evokes an ancient desire to encourage the sun, urging it to "swing" ever higher in the sky.

  22. And some words about Christmas in China))
    The Chinese Christmas trees are called "Trees of Light." The Christian children of China decorate them with colorful ornaments. These ornaments are made from paper in the shapes of flowers, chains and lanterns. They also hang muslin stockings hoping that Dun Che Lao Ren, which means "Christmas Old Man," will fill them with gifts and treats.

    The non-Christian Chinese call this season the Spring Festival and celebrate with many festivities, including delicious meals and paying respects to their ancestors. The children are the main focus of these celebrations: they receive new clothes and toys, eat delectable food and watch firecrackers displays.

    1. Christians in China celebrate by lighting their houses with beautiful paper lanterns and decorating their Christmas trees, which they call "Trees of Light," with paper chains, paper flowers, and paper lanterns. Chinese Children hang muslin stockings and await a visit from Santa Claus, whom they call Dun Che Lao Ren (dwyn-chuh-lau-oh-run) which means "Christmas Old Man." Since the vast majority of the Chinese people are not Christian, the main winter festival in China is the Chinese New Year, which takes place toward the end of January. Now officially called the "Spring Festival," it is a time when children receive new clothing, eat luxurious meals, receive new toys, and enjoy firecracker displays. An important aspect of the New Year celebration is the worship of ancestors. Portraits and paintings of ancestors are brought out and hung in the main room of the home.

    2. If you visit the major cities in China, signs of Christmas can be seen everywhere you look. On the streets and in department stores, there are Christmas trees, lights and decorations. Christmas carols can be heard over the noise of the crowds. Chinese “Father Christmas” helps to make the scene complete.

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  24. Of all the Christmas events in Boston, perhaps the one that best signals the official kick-off to the holiday season is the lighting of the city’s official Christmas tree on Boston Common. While not as large as the tree at Faneuil Hall, this tree lighting is always a local event, covered live on TV, and featuring special guests. The Balsam Fir tree is annually donated to the city of Boston by Nova Scotia and 2012 marks the 40th year of this unique partnership.