around the world
Are you waiting in front of the chimney for Santa Claus to climb down, eat your chocolate, non-dairy cookies and drink the glass of milk that you’ve left on the table?
From its Puritan roots to complaints of rampant commercialism (“What is it you want?” Charlie Brown asks Lucy in A Charlie Brown Christmas. “Real Estate.”), has been filled with traditions, old and new. Some date back to 16th-century Germany or even ancient Greek times, while others have caught on in modern times.
Every culture and every country has its own way to be festive and celebrate Christmas. Some of these involve special dishes, treats that only appear once a year. Others exchange gifts that carry a particular meaning, others decorate homes, hold festivals, host little Christmas villages covered in snow to ring the winter season. I know, for me, Christmas has always been a very festive, warm time of the year where I could finally sit down with all my family and chug down some spiked (might be too spiked) eggnog.
I would wait for Christmas day all year around, actually I still do.
Well, after much research it turns out Santa Claus doesn’t visit the entire world, I know, strange. I knew Santa Claus changed his name with the places he’d visit, but some of these have completely different traditions.
Let’s go around the world to take a peek.
What happens on Christmas day on the other side of the world?
Let’s start off by saying that Christmas is not a national holiday in Japan, Christmas is actually relatively new to them, it’s only been recognized for the past couple of decades and it’s seen as a time to spread joy and cheer, even on a romantic date which switches the focus of the holiday to a less religious holiday.
However, often schools are closed on Christmas Day because it’s the start of the New Year school break, but most businesses will treat the 25th as a normal working day. In fact, people don’t really cook the traditional home-cooked feast, but prefer to go out to restaurants or order take-out (mostly fried chicken).
I actually decided to talk about Poland as soon as I learned about their Oplatek tradition. Oplatek is a paper-thin wafer made of flour and water that has the image of the Nativity on it. Christmas Eve dinner starts with sharing the Oplatek, everyone enjoys it at the table and passes it around, it’s a whole other level of sharing and we absolutely dig it!
Austria - Saint Nicholas and Krampus
Austria plays a whole different game when it comes to Christmas, if you thought coal under the tree was a bad thing, you have seen nothing yet! During the Advent time, folkloristic figures may suddenly knock on your front door. Friendly St. Nicholas and his sinister companion Krampus will come to your home to find out which children have been good this year.
Kids eagerly await the much-feared Krampus Day (5 December, one day before St. Nicholas) when people dress up in scary costumes made of sheepskin, wear carved masks with goat horns and get up to mischief in the village streets.
It’s Christmas with a little sparkle of Halloween on top, which I personally find thrilling!
…and if Christmas calls for snow and hot chocolate for some, for others it calls for long sandy beaches and surf boards.
Australia: THE Christmas on the beach
For the Aussies, spending Christmas day on the beach is not random at all, it’s become a long-going tradition. In Australia, Christmas comes towards the beginning of the summer holidays, some kinds may even be camping at Christmas!
Because it’s so hot at Christmas time in Australia, seeing people dressed up as Santa laying on the beach, sipping on a Margarita, is actually more common than you would imagine!
Either way you decide to spend Christmas Day, whether it’s cold or hot on your side of the world, my advice is to always spend it with the people you care the most!
From us, to You.
By Miriam Gagino
By Miriam Gagino
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