Cross-Cultural Christmas

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Photo: Flickr/Creative Commons

hot:Christmas is celebrated in different ways across the world. Since America is a melting pot for different cultural groups, there are many different traditions but some are iconic to the American culture. Many Christmas movies like “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and “Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer” are played around Christmas time in America. Also, the Christmas tree is iconic to American Christmas tradition. This holiday has been molded into gift giving and receiving. All Christmas festivities take place on December 25th.

The Netherlands has their own type of Christmas traditions. It takes place on December 5th and their own version of Santa Claus called Sinterklaas brings the children presents. Sinterklaas travels with Zwarte Pieten or “Black Peter” (elves). Sinterklaas and Zwarte Pieten come in on a steam boat and leave presents for children who leave a boot on their step.

In Brazil, there is a very religious meaning behind the holiday. Most Catholics will go to Midnight Mass on the 25th. It will normally end around 1:00 in the morning.  They’re version of Santa Claus is called Papai Noel and Bom Velhinho which translates to the “good old man”. The most popular Christmas song in Brazil is “Noite Feliz” or “Silent Night”.

In Australia, Christmas is in the middle of their summer months. Most hang wreaths on their front doors and their houses and gardens are filled with Christmas trees. Neighbors have competitions on who has the best light display. They also celebrate Boxing Day, the day after Christmas. Most have barbecues at the beach or visit friends.

In China, only about one percent of the population are Christian so most people know little about the holiday. For this reason, only large cities celebrate Christmas. Santa is known as “Sheng dan lao ran” which translates to “Old Christmas Man”. Very few people have Christmas trees, and if they do have one it is most likely plastic.

People in Finland believe that Joulupukki, or Santa, lives in Korvatunturi, the northern part of Finland. They will often spend time preparing their homes for the three holy days: Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day. It is traditional to eat rice porridge and plum fruit juice for the Christmas Eve breakfast and a large meal for Christmas Eve dinner. After dinner,  Joulupukki (Santa) arrives.


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