Christmas celebrates the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The word Christmas comes from an early English phrase, “Cristes maesse”, which means Mass of Christ. Christians go to church on this day to take part in special religious services. There are a wide variety of unique and strange Christmas traditions that are followed across the world. Christmas is known as Noel in France.
During the Christmas season, they also exchange gifts and decorate their homes with hollies, mistletoes, and decorated trees. In the days before Nativity, children and adults go from house to house singing carols. For several weeks before the holidays, children write letters to Santa Claus and tell him what presents they would like to receive. The tree is the main attraction in most homes. Presents are placed under the decorated tree on the night of Christmas Eve. Many children grow up believing that Santa Claus brings these presents. Families open their presents the next morning.
Christmas Traditions Around the World
Christmas Traditions in BENELUX (Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg)
Christmas is celebrated by people of different countries in a variety of ways depending on their national and local customs. In the BENELUX countries, it is believed that Saint Nicholas travels along the house roofs and goes down the chimney of every house leaving gifts in shoes that the children have put by the fireplace.
Christmas Traditions in The Philippines and Mexico
In the Philippines, people parade through the streets on the day or the evening before the big day, carrying colorful star-shaped lanterns called parols. In Venezuela’s capital Caracas, it is customary for streets to be blocked off on Christmas Eve so people can roller-skate to church services. In Mexico, the nine days before Noel are special. They are known as posadas, which means inns or lodgings.
During these days, people re-enact Mary and Joseph’s search for lodgings on the first Christmas Eve. A procession led by two children, carrying figures of Mary and Joseph, go to a particular house, where they knock on the door and ask for lodgings. Refused at first, they are finally admitted. Mexicans feast and celebrate after each posada ceremony.
Christmas Traditions in Scandinavia
In the Scandinavian countries, the dinner includes rice pudding, called julgrot, which has an almond in it. As per tradition, whoever gets the almond will have good luck throughout the New Year. In Norway, the popular custom is ringe in Julen (ringing at Christmas), where people ring church bells at 5 p.m. on Christmas Eve.
Christmas Traditions in The United Kingdom
Traditional dinners in Great Britain include roast, stuffed turkey with bread sauce, boiled or roast potatoes and other vegetables. Dessert includes mince pies with brandy butter or Christmas pudding (a type of plum pudding) with cream or a sweet white sauce made with cornflour.
Christmas Traditions in The United States of America
Eggnog (a thick, creamy drink made with eggs, cream, sugar, cinnamon, and rum) is a popular beverage in the United States. Large numbers of people enjoy reading Christmas stories and poems during the holiday season. For example, A Christmas Carol (1843) by the English novelist Charles Dickens ranks as one of the most famous tales ever written. On the day or the evening before the big day, people in many homes in the United States read aloud the poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas”, famously known as “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” by its first line.
Several musical productions are also traditions. They include The Nutcracker, a ballet by Tchaikovsky, and Amahl and the Night Visitors, an opera by Gian Carlo Menotti.
Christmas Traditions in Other Countries
In Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, the UK, and parts of Canada, the day after Christmas Day is called Boxing Day. Traditionally, people exchanged presents on this day. It is also a traditional day for hunting and sports events such as soccer matches. With its many traditions and customs, Noel is a season of joy, laughter, and sharing.
O Come O Come Immanuel is a wonderful hymn that is traditionally sung during Christmas Eve services. It contemplates the anticipation of anyone who is waiting for God’s deliverance from pain, suffering, and distress. We as Christians can sing this soul-stirring song as we long for our Savior’s second coming and our deliverance from the sin and imperfection of this world.
Wishing all of you a Merry Christmas!
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