Christmas is a time of joy! For me it will always be in the faces that I love and the traditions that transcends generations. My heart rejoices recalling the memories past that light a flame for others and the deeper message of the true meaning of Christmas.
As a child, the scent of Christmas will always be from freshly made cookies and the gloriously lit pine tree that we as a family decorated. I recall the wonder in my baby sister’s eyes and in the smiles that greeted us at the chapel when we as a family bowed our heads for Christmas service.
At first light, my brothers and sisters always snuck a peek at the treasures that Santa put under our Christmas tree remembering the phrase- “if you don’t believe, you will not receive.” We were all believers into our early 20’s!
My Mom cooked from the heart a Christmas meal that could of been on the cover of Southern Living. I can still hear my Dad in prayer as he sat at the head of the table instilling in us the glory of the birth of our Savior.
The traditions we are born into follow us. They are in the faces of my grandsons as we make homemade Christmas cookies. The festivities continue led by a man with a snowy white beard. They take us down the aisle as we fill the church with our voices of song and praise for the glory of His name and the birth of His son.
Deep rooted in family tradition, I am intrigued by how other countries celebrate Christmas. In Argentina, nativity scenes are very popular and are usually placed by decorated family trees sometimes with cotton balls on them to look like snow. Most celebrations take place on Christmas Eve with the sound of fireworks at midnight.
Children perform Posada processions in Mexico from December 16th until Christmas Eve. Children carry candles and nativity figurines from house to house celebrating Joseph and Mary in their search for a place to stay. At each house they sing and eventually are invited in for prayer, food, and games. A piñata is filled with sweets and each night a different house will host the Posada party. On Christmas Eve, baby Jesus is placed in a manger and afterwards the main meal is served. The celebration continues as families go to Midnight Mass.
Australian homes are adorned with lights and foliage, in particular Christmas Bush, the native cream colored flower that turns red during Christmas. Each town has huge Holiday pageants and parades along with large Carols by Candlelight services. When Santa arrives, he gives his reindeer a rest using kangaroos instead.
A wonderful tradition in Columbia is when children write letters to Jesus and place them in the nativity scene in their homes.
In Denmark, calendars, cards, and stamps are sold and all the proceeds go to Worldwide Children’s Charities. Each calendar tells a story in which the characters try and ruin Christmas but in the end, Christmas is saved!
In some nations (Egypt, Serbia, Russia) where the population is only 15% Christian, Christmas Day is celebrated January 7th. The Christian’s fast for 43 days eating a vegan diet. After Church services on January 6th, the fast is broken as a huge meal is served. The following day Christmas is celebrated with parties and festivities.
Christmas in Nigeria is all about families who gather together in the villages of their older relatives. Each home has a decorated artificial tree and Christmas Eve parties may last all night with children enjoying the sound of fireworks. Church choirs visit members of their congregation singing carols. On Christmas Day each family celebrates by going to church.
Germany is best known for the hanging of Advent calendars that count down to Christmas. Decorating trees with glass blown ornaments are very popular, dating back to the Middle Ages. A popular tradition is Star Singers who go from house to house caroling and collecting money for charity. In the evening, families read the Bible and sing Christmas songs. On Christmas Eve, Father Christmas/Christkindl brings the main presents.
A Christmas tradition started 800 years ago in the United Kingdom and celebrated in many European nations is Boxing Day which takes place on December 26. It is a time when the alms boxes collected by the churches are opened and distributed to the poor.
Every year on Oxford Street in London the most famous Christmas Lights are switched on at the beginning of November. Nativity plays take place along with beautiful Carols by Candlelight church services. Children write letters to Father Christmas and on Christmas Eve he leaves presents in stockings or pillowcases.
Canada has many traditions and celebrations due to to its very diverse cultural backgrounds. Homes are decorated with trees and lights and with stockings hung by the fireplace. There is a huge Santa Claus Parade in Toronto where children along the route march with Santa Claus. In parts of northern Canada, a taffy pull takes place honoring Saint Catherine, the patron saint of single women. This festivity offers the opportunity for single women to meet eligible single men.
The people from Nova Scotia began a tradition of sending a huge fir tree to Boston where it is lit during a ceremony commemorating the beginning of the Holiday Season. Another festivity is to dress up in funny Santa costumes and go from house to house until the home owner guesses who you are, inviting you in for prayer and food.
A World of Christmas Traditions unite us all as we share everlasting love as family and friends gather. In some cases, it reminds us of a childhood we never lost but pass on for others to treasure. We are strengthened by the warmth that radiates back into the faces we love as we all whisper His name celebrating the eternal gift of “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given.”