The month of December is completely taken over by Christmas. Everywhere you go you see trees, tinsel and hear constant Christmas jingles. Christmas dinner is also a massive part of our culture with turkeys literally being fought over by shoppers on Christmas Eve. We also enjoy the odd roast potato, stuffing and pigs in blankets also during this annual family feast.
However, the thing is most of us only know Christmas, well, as we know it. We don’t focus much on the other parts of the world where they do things differently – very differently in some cultures.
So let’s educate ourselves a little and learn about Christmas traditions from around the world ..
FRANCE: France’s customs aren’t much different to ours actually, they celebrate by putting up their Christmas trees and playing the odd song, same as us really. Only difference is; they open their presents on Christmas Eve and have replaced stockings by opting to put their presents in shoes instead. The French have a different line up in terms of cuisine; their main protein is rabbit instead of the poultry we enjoy. The traditional Christmas bird is usually different, they often feast on a roast capon – a considerably smaller bird. Also they enjoy aigo-boulido (garlic soup) for their starter.
CHINA: In China only about 1% of people are Christians so Christmas isn’t widely celebrated, especially not in the rural areas. However more people in China are becoming aware of the celebration and in the major cities it is becoming more popular, there are even Santa’s grottos in shops – Santa is called ‘Shen Dan Lao Ren’. A tradition that’s becoming popular in China, on Christmas Eve, is giving apples. Many stores have apples wrapped up in coloured paper for sale. People give apples on Christmas Eve because in Chinese, Christmas Eve is called ‘Ping An Ye’ (which means quiet or silent night) and the word for apple in Chinese is ‘Ping Guo’ which sounds similar.
JAMAICA: Christmas time in Jamaica is very special. Lots of people paint their houses and hang new decorations for the period. People also like to spend the day at home with their families on Christmas day. The meal is usually prepped on Christmas Eve and they have different meals for throughout the day. The traditional Jamaican Christmas meal include fresh fruits, sorrel and rum punch and meat. The Christmas Day breakfast includes ackee and saltfish, breadfruit, fried plantains, boiled bananas, freshly squeezed fruit juice and tea. Dinner is usually served in the late afternoon and this may include chicken, curry goat, stewed oxtail, rice and peas. Jamaican red wine and rum fruitcake is traditional and is eaten in most homes. The fruits in the cake are soaked in red wine and white rum for months before Christmas.
RUSSIA: In the days of the old Soviet Union, Christmas was not widely celebrated. New Year was the big time. Now, due to the old Julian Calendar which the Russian Orthodox church uses for religious celebration days, Christmas is celebrated on the 7th of January. The official Christmas and New Year holiday dates run from 31st of December to 10th of January. Some Russians fast on Christmas Eve, until the first star has appeared in the sky. People then eat ‘sochivo’ or ‘kutia’ a porridge made from wheat or rice served with honey, poppy seeds, fruit (especially berries and dried fruit like raisins), chopped walnuts or sometimes even fruit jellies. Some Orthodox Russian Christians also choose not to eat meat or fish during the Christmas Eve feast.
As you can see there are massive differences around the world at our favourite time of the year.
Could you celebrate Christmas anywhere else but here?