Christmas traditions around the world

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Christmas traditions around the world

Postby waggawerewolf27 » Dec 13, 2013 4:19 pm

CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS AROUND THE WORLD


In the Christmas in Summertime thread we have been discussing what it is like to celebrate Christmas in the heat of summer, and how Australians and New Zealanders, in particular, spend Christmas, whilst the citizens of North America and Europe enjoy 'dreaming of a white Christmas'. :)

Because of the heat, it is inevitable that hot roast Christmas dinners, followed by rich, steaming, Christmas puddings, have yielded to backyard barbeques, or lunches of grilled fish and seafood, accompanied by cool melons, mangoes and berries, nut and cheese platters and followed by trifles, pavlovas or cheesecake. Summertime has also made ridiculous those carols about chestnuts roasting on an open fire, when fire engines race to bushfires, and the only chestnuts in season are likely to be Asian water chestnuts. Or when a coconut and turkish delight treat, called White Christmas, has nothing whatsoever to do with snow at either the North or South Poles. And also, the proximity of Asia with its wide choice of delicious cuisines has heavily influenced food preferences.

However, Australia and New Zealand, like Canada, USA and UK, itself, have large immigrant populations which, wherever they are from, have very diverse customs and traditions, which explains why various traditions are kept up here, including Christmas trees, lavish decorations, sending greeting cards to family and friends, and the yearly televised Carols by candlelight. Warrior4Jesus commented that, because of his mainly German heritage, his family opened Christmas presents on Christmas Eve, much as UK's Royal family still does to this day. Unlike my own mainly British heritage, where presents are exchanged on Christmas morning, after attending an early morning Church service.

Why do we have these traditions, and where are they from? A Polish-born friend of mine talks of setting an extra seat at the Christmas table for the Christ Child, and feasting on fish rather than roast turkey. French-speaking Christians in Canada, Vietnam and France, itself, enjoy La Reveillon after midnight Mass on Dec 24th. And how is Christmas celebrated in the Middle East, where Christ, himself was born, or in predominantly non-Christian societies?

This is your thread to discuss these traditions, when and where they began, why they continued, and why they fell into disuse. Have you heard of a particular custom that you want explained? Maybe we could find out for you. Or can you tell us about Christmas customs and traditions you enjoy, whether it is the consumption of lutefisk, or why my grandmother put silver coins in the Christmas pudding. :D
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Re: Christmas traditions around the world

Postby IloveFauns » Dec 13, 2013 5:31 pm

I suppose being from a mainly atheist/agnostic family the Christmas traditions are somewhat different. It is mainly a celebration of family and friends.
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Re: Christmas traditions around the world

Postby waggawerewolf27 » Dec 13, 2013 8:07 pm

IloveFauns wrote:I suppose being from a mainly atheist/agnostic family the Christmas traditions are somewhat different. It is mainly a celebration of family and friends.


I'm not sure Christmas traditions have really become different within either families or society, solely because of agnostic/atheist beliefs. I was startled to read in the newspaper that Christmas is enthusiastically celebrated in Indonesia, despite that country being the largest Muslim country in the world. Besides, some of the original Christmas traditions, which have continued, have also been adapted from pagan sources, such as celebrating Christmas at Yuletide, at the Northern Winter solstice, despite attempts at Christmas in July parties in the Blue Mountains.

Even specifically Christian referenced traditions, such as the Nativity scenes at shopping centres still continue, though less obviously. Even the secular carols played at our shopping centres sometimes manage to include a few religious Christmas carols, without the non-PC verses.

Although, as you say, it is mainly a celebration of family and friends, for families like your own, whose beliefs are agnostic/atheist, Christmas traditions can be just as much about history and heritage, as well as personal values, and religious beliefs. I've amended the thread to be more inclusive, and thank you for pointing it out.
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Re: Christmas traditions around the world

Postby IloveFauns » Dec 14, 2013 10:12 pm

Your husband is atheist?(i think i remember you saying that) does he go along to the church services?

I agree it does seem Christmas has become a celebration in many countries of the world whether they are mainly christian countries or not.

It seems to be a tradition to play backyard cricket in Australia on Christmas day. Though it is usually very hot.
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Re: Christmas traditions around the world

Postby waggawerewolf27 » Dec 15, 2013 11:09 pm

For backyard cricket you need someone to organise the team and being excused from the washing up. Never me. ;)

IloveFauns wrote:Your husband is atheist?(i think i remember you saying that) does he go along to the church services?


My husband has been agnostic rather than atheist. He went to church last year at Christmas with me, since he had just finished a course of radiation therapy for cancer, the day beforehand. Normally, when I attend church, he uses the opportunity to ring up his brothers and sisters, so everyone is catered for.
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Re: Christmas traditions around the world

Postby IloveFauns » Dec 18, 2013 3:31 am

Oh I see. I have never been to a christmas Church service. I did go to a service once however since I was staying with my auntie and thought it would be rude not to go.
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Re: Christmas traditions around the world

Postby Shadowlander » Dec 18, 2013 4:28 pm

On the US front there's lots of stuff most folks probably already know about overseas, mainly from movies and the like. On Christmas Eve the little ones can tune in to the TV and see NORAD (North American Air Defense) track Santa's sleigh as it goes around the world. Typically they describe it as a sort of "sleigh craft featuring 9 Reindeer, one with a red navigational beacon (Rudolph). ;)) Apparently it started as a joke back in the 50's or 60's when some kid called NORAD by accident and wanted to know where Santa was. One of the operators and NORAD told him they had Santa on radar and were tracking him in from the North Pole, etc. :)) Usually they'll sortie some fighters to "escort" him through friendly territory. ;))



As traditions go it really varies from family to family but generally speaking we typically open up gifts in the mornings here. If you have a family with kids you may wake up to find them parked under the tree asleep where they were trying to catch Santa in the act (guilty as charged). Most families have some sort of Christmas dinner in the early evening, typically turkey or ham, but just about any sit down dinner meal will suffice. We've had pot roast, roast beef and potatoes, lasagna, and even duck before. When time permits my family engages in a few board games, but it's very rare that we're all off at the same time (I have to work all day on Christmas for instance, so I won't get to see anyone until that night). Of course the little kids are all hopped up on sugar from the candies in the stockings and having run amok like lunatics after a raid on a coffee shop, so they zonk out earlier than normal. There's wrapping paper carnage all over the floor. Someone is going to step on a Lego and cry out in pain. Dad will be in the recliner sleeping off the turkey shock.

Pretty standard stuff! :D
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Re: Christmas traditions around the world

Postby IloveFauns » Dec 19, 2013 10:25 pm

Here we have something similar on Christmas eve morning news shows here. When I was about 6 I thought if they are mentioning it on the news. Santa Claus must be real.

It is standard for an elderly relative to faint due to the heat at Christmas. Well it happened 3 years in a row(2007-2009).
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Re: Christmas traditions around the world

Postby waggawerewolf27 » Dec 20, 2013 9:45 pm

IloveFauns wrote:It is standard for an elderly relative to faint due to the heat at Christmas. Well it happened 3 years in a row(2007-2009).


Yes, that was an El Nino period, with record bushfires and hot temperatures in 2009 - 45 degrees C in our backyard. In days of yore before air conditioning, elderly relatives used to have a siesta as a post-Christmas dinner tradition. My poor grandmother, in particular, deserved it. Whilst - you guessed it - I washed up. :D This year, now that I am over 65, I hope to qualify as an elderly relative, who really shouldn't be cooking or washing up in Australian heat, anyway.

It turns out that getting those silver coins in those Christmas puddings used to mean that the person who got them was to be named the king or queen of Christmas which entitled them to order people around. At our place it didn't necessarily apply to the Christmas dinner washing up, though. ;) And in the end, as I was told then, it just meant you might be lucky through the year, especially if you didn't swallow what we used to call a trey-bit.

According to the Daily Telegraph this custom has all but died out. But you can still get pudding packs from the Royal Australian Mint, which is in Perth.

We will probably listen to Carols in the Domain, which is on TV this weekend.
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Re: Christmas traditions around the world

Postby IloveFauns » Dec 21, 2013 6:26 pm

This year it is going to be 30c(in perth) which is much better than previous years. So at least no elderly relatives should be fainting. Though this year I think there is only one or 2 elderly people coming to Christmas dinner at my aunties house.
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