Holiday Celebrations Differ All Over The World
The Christmas tree, holly, turkey feasts and the exchange of presents are all common traditions followed at this time of year in North America. Although each of these customs has interesting histories to them, they are not the standard format used to mark Christmas everywhere else on the planet. Here is a look at some of the holiday traditions used in other countries in December.
The Yule log tradition comes from Norway. The custom dates back centuries when the Norse used a log to celebrate the return of longer days at what we know as winter solstice. The Norse word for wheel (hweol) is where the word Yule came from. The Norse viewed the sun as part of a wheel of fire that moves towards and away from the Earth at different times of the calendar year.
The custom of decorated Christmas trees originated in Germany. The first one appeared in the early 17th century in Alsace, Strasbourg. By the late 1700’s Christmas trees became commonplace and started a trend. In the 1820’s the first German immigrants to the United States started decorated trees in Pennsylvania. Followed the marriage of Germany’s Prince Albert to Queen Victoria in 1848 the Christmas tree tradition was passed on to England.
The tradition of sending Christmas cards got its start in England. It dates back to the 1830’s when John Calcott Horsley started to produce little cards with festive scenes and a holiday greeting on them. The postal service in both England and the United States in the following years turned the sending of these greeting cards into an annual tradition.
A tradition in some parts of southern France features the burning of a log in the homes of residents from Christmas Eve until New Year’s Day. The tradition comes from ancient farmers who did the same with the belief that the act would bring good luck to next year’s harvest.
Christmas actually takes place in the middle of summer for the people living Down Under. Typical traditions in Australia include family gatherings with meals cooked on a barbeque. Expect ham, pork, turkey or seafood.
The annual Christmas tradition in Ukraine probably takes longer to prepare for than actually participating in. A 12-course meal is created and the feast cannot begin until the youngest child of the host family spots the evening star in the sky.
The naughty or nice list takes a different meaning in Greece at Christmastime. Goblins called Kallikantzeri are believed to cause all kinds of mischief during the twelve days of Christmas. On January 1st, St. Basil’s Day, gifts are exchanged.
In the far north of Canada, the Inuit people celebrate with a winter festival known as Sinck Tuck. It features parties, gatherings with dancing and wraps up with the exchanging of gifts.
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