For you, Christmas is just a celebration like every year, but everyone has their own traditions for Christmas. In this paper, you will get to know how other people in the world celebrate Christmas.
Like in many parts of Europe, people in Switzerland, where I live, enjoy the tradition of counting the days until Christmas Eve. This is usually done with a Christmas calendar, also known as Advent calendar, which counts the 24 days from December 1st to 24th.
From December 1st until Christmas, “Advents Kränze”, wreaths made out of fir, count the last four weeks before Christmas Eve. The first candle is lit on the Sunday four weeks before Christmas Eve and then every week an additional candle is lit. At the end of November, you can see small parades of beetroot lanterns all over Switzerland. These are called “Räbeliechtli”. Children carve them in school with their teachers and parents and walk around the villages with them while singing. According to Swiss tradition, Santa visits Switzerland on December 6th and does not bring the actual Christmas presents – those are said to be brought by the “Christkind”, Jesus himself. Instead, Santa Claus takes along a big bag filled with nuts, mandarins, cookies, and chocolates, which he distributes to the children he visits, depending on their behaviour during the past year.
In Poland, there are 12 dishes served on Christmas Eve. Every single one of the 12 dishes represents one apostle. On Christmas Eve, every single person wears something very elegant. Men wear a suit and women wear pretty dresses.
On the 24th of December are some rules regarding eating habits. For example, you should not eat too much for the whole day and meat should be avoided. For dinner, you should try from every dish on the table. Popular dishes in the Southern part of Poland (Silesia) are “kapusta z grochiem”, “makówki” and compote wit dry fruits.
“Kapusta z grochiem” is cooked with pickled cabbage with peas, and “makówki” is a desert with bun pieces, poppy seeds, almonds, raisins and milk.
On Christmas evening, before starting the meal, oblaten are shared between all the family members, and the tablecloth is stuffed with hey which should remind of Jesus in his crib. In Poland, they always put one more cutlery on the table because if someone homeless knocks at the door, he is invited to share the meal.
Lots of people in Poland attend the Midnight Mass on 24th December to celebrate Christmas Eve. In Poland they have big Christmas trees with big bubbles, tinsel and lights on them
Germany celebrates Christmas with two public holidays, December 25th and 26th. For many people, December 24th, Christmas Eve, is divided into a stressing morning and beautiful festive evening. When Christmas Eve falls on a working day, the shops are open until noon or even 4pm, and they are very busy as people buy their last presents or food for the festive meal.
Afterwards attention focuses on decorating the Christmas tree with colourful lights and colourful bubbles, wrapping up presents and preparing food.
In the evening the members of the family gather around the table. Some have traditions like singing and making music together. The evening meal is followed by the getting and giving of presents: this is when everyone is allowed to unwrap the gift lying under the Christmas tree. Most Germans eat goose and potato salad for Christmas.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE), where I lived for one year, is an Islamic country which means Christmas isn’t an official holiday. Only about 13% of the population are Christian, usually, they are people who live and work in the UAE but are not native Emiratis.
Even though the main religion is Islam, the UAE are a very tolerant country, respecting other religious festivities. So it is not astonishing that you encounter Christmas trees and Santas in places such as hotels, shops and malls.
The biggest displays are in Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the Expat communities and in lots of big hotels.
At Emirates palace hotel in Abu Dhabi, they have the world’s most expensive Christmas tree. The marvellous decoration is said to be worth millions of dollars.
Christian churches will have Christmas service but the people who go to the services are mainly expats. Recently, more and more locals, Emiratis, are enjoying to have a Christmas tree in their house, to exchange gifts and to celebrate and share a festive meal with their family.
Christmas is a very special time on the Seychelles like in a lot of other countries. Radio stations play carols through the Christmas period, many people paint their houses and hang new curtains and Christmas decorations. Most families spend Christmas Day at home with friends and family. In the Seychelles, there are many Christmas traditions, for example: most families have a Christmas tree in their house in many different shapes and sizes. Most Seychellois start decorating their Christmas tree at the beginning of December, to put them into that Christmas spirit. The Christmas trees can be either indoors or outdoors.
In Seychelles, to mark that religious occasion, they start preparing for Christmas in November already. People from the Seychelles attend the Midnight Mass on December 24th to celebrate Christmas Eve. Another mass is held the next morning for the birth of baby Jesus.