Christmas Around The World
The modern day Christmas in Britain is very different to what it was two or three hundred years ago. Whilst traditional festivities live on in new formats, the holiday has been changed dramatically with the commercial nature that has grown up beside it. But it’s not just Britain that has seen Christmas evolve and adapt to fit the way of life, Christmas around the world is celebrated in incredibly different ways. Some countries still stick by the original rituals and origins of Christmas, whilst some have seen just as many changes as we have; but in a completely different way.
In the purported birthplace of Jesus (Bethlehem, Palestine) the tradition of Christmas lives on the strongest. Christmas Eve sees both locals and visitors from all around the world gather at the Church of the Nativity to witness an impressive parade through the streets. Arabian horses are ridden at the head of the procession and following by a single horseman mounted on a black horse, carrying a cross to represent the crucifixion of Jesus. Following closely are the clergy and official staff of the government. Entering the church, the procession lays down an ancient likeness of the baby Jesus. Nearby, the grotto is marked by a silver star; indicating the birthplace of Jesus Christ.
At the other end of the spectrum, a tradition popular in Austria is called ‘Krampus Night.’ Krampus is believed to be the evil twin of Santa Claus, who receives the list of every child who has been naughty over the year and is charged with punishing and beating them. Krampus Night occurs on December 5th annually and involves men from the towns and villages dressing up in demon-like costumes and terrorise their neighbours by chasing them with sticks. Whilst all done in good humour and with wine freely flowing, you can imagine that the children are coaxed into behaving the following year if they find themselves being chased by Krampus! This tradition is also popular in Hungary and Slovenia.
In Norway, there is an equally superstitious tradition that Christmas is a time when witches and spirits are prevalent. On December 24th, all brooms in Norwegian homes are hidden so that witches cannot take to the skies and the men fire their shotguns into the air outside to frighten away any malevolent spirits.
In Japan, commercialism of Christmas is in full swing and one of the most popular Christmas meals is a trip to KFC. So many people follow this 21st century tradition that reservations have to be made at fast food joints around the country!
In Caracas in Venezuela, a tradition has arisen that you can struggle to find the logic or origin of! Roads are closed off until 8am so that early morning mass goers during Christmas can roller skate to the Church. Even stranger still are the strings that hang out of all of the windows in Caracas, one end dangling for the roller skaters to tug and the other attached to a sleeping child in the bedroom above.
Whilst Christmas in Britain may sound a bit less exciting than those around the world, we’re still huge fans of the festive period and few of us can resist the excitement that December always brings.
Make sure you’re prepared for this year’s festivities by visiting the UK Christmas World online store and stocking up early on decorations and supplies!