Sunday, December 25, 2016

Cameron Findlay: Christmas traditions around the world

The Democratic Republic of Congo

  On Christmas Eve, churches hold musical evenings and a nativity play which often goes on all night. The plays begin with the creation of the Garden of Eden and ends with King Herod killing all baby boys, with the birth of the baby Jesus timed for midnight. On Christmas Day, carol singers walk through the villages before they return home to make the final preparations for their outfits and offerings for the Christmas service.

South Africa

  Christmas in South Africa is celebrated as it is in much of the western world with one exception - as Christmas Day falls during the middle of the country's summer, it is spent outside. Once the heat of the day has subsided, families flock to the beach to light their grills and cook. South Africans see Boxing Day as a day of charity, a day where boxes of food and clothing are gathered up and given to the poor.


  Antarctica is home to many interesting Christmas traditions including the 'race around the world' where participants use all sorts of transport methods to race around the South Pole, passing through all time zones and lines of longitude on Christmas Day. Another fun tradition takes place on Boxing Day when scientists based in Antarctica have just a few hours to put as many red Santa hats on penguins as possible.


  Christmas isn't a national holiday in Japan - only 1% of the Japanese population is estimated to be Christian. Yet thanks to a very popular marketing campaign in 1974, Japan can't get enough of KFC on Christmas Day - so much so that it is advisable to book a table in order to avoid disappointment!


  Belgians enjoy a breakfast of cougnou or cougnolle, a sweet bread shaped like the baby Jesus. Children in Belgium are extra lucky as many have two gift-giving visitors. On December 6th St Nicholas visits, and then depending on where in the country they are and how good they have been, Santa Claus might come by on December 25th


  For Ukrainians, it is traditional to hang an artificial spider and web among the decorations as spider webs that are found on Christmas morning are thought to bring good luck. Pretty scary!

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