Christmas is a wonderful time of year! People all over the world celebrate the holiday in different ways. Here are some interesting traditions from all over the world.
Christmas Traditions in Brazil
During the Christmas season, many towns in northern Brazil have a tradition of displaying the nativity scene. They call this a “presepio”after the Hebrew presepium. Presepium translates to “bed of straw,” which refers to the manger in which the Christ child was laid.
As Brazil is a mostly a Catholic country, many people attend a midnight mass, called Missa do Galo (mass of the rooster) on Christmas Eve. The mass typically lasts until 1 a.m.
On Christmas Eve Papai Noel (Father Christmas) brings gifts to children. In their tradition he resides in Greenland and dresses in light silk garments because of the hot weather in Brazil. Christmas dinner consists of turkey, ham, rice, vegetables and fruit.
Argentina Christmas Traditions
In Argentina Christians decorate evergreen trees with cotton to simulate the snow of the northern hemisphere. The Christmas dinner consists of suckling pig or peacock, or “ninos envuettas (a beef dish stuffed with mincemeat, onions, hard-boiled eggs and spices). Argentinians attend church services on Christmas day rather than Christmas Eve.
In Argentinian tradition, the three Magi travel on horseback to bring gifts to children who have been good. On January 6, children leave their shoes under the Christmas tree or by their beds to be filled with goodies. Hay and water are left outside for the Magi’s horses to prepare them for their long ride to the Christ child in Bethlehem.
The Traditions In Australia
Australia’s Christmas is influenced by their British roots. Christmas dinner usually consists of ham or turkey and flaming plum pudding for dessert. Because Australia is located in the Southern Hemisphere, Christmas dinner is often celebrated outdoors or even picnic-style. After dinner, Australians will often play cricket.
A well known Australian Christmas tradition is called Carols by Candlelight. The tradition began in 1937 in Melbourne on Christmas Eve, and has taken place annually since in the days leading up to Christmas Eve in cities and towns around the nation. In Sydney, tens of thousands of people gather for the event. The final song for the night is called “Let There Be Peace on Earth (and Let it Begin With Me),” during which the singers hold their candles.
Christmas Traditions in Russia
The Russian Orthodox Church celebrates Christmas starting in November with a 40-day Lent when people fast from all animal products except seafood. The Orthodox Church celebrates Christmas according to the old Julian calendar, which makes Christmas fall on January 7.
On Christmas Eve, Russians attend a special Christmas mass. They consider Christmas Eve a solemn occasion, and no celebrating takes place. In the morning, they return again for the Christmas Day Liturgy, and then the festivities begin. Gifts are exchanged, the Christmas tree is trimmed, Christmas lunch is enjoyed, and people go caroling door to door. Instead of “Merry Christmas!”, the standard greeting in Russia during Christmas is Rodzhestvom Kristovom, which translates to “the birth of Christ!”
Christmas in Bethlehem
As per tradition, Christmas Eve services in Bethlehem Israel begin at Shepherds’ Field, and then move on to the Church of the Nativity. The church was built by the Emperor Justinian in the sixth century over the ruins of an older church built by the Emperor Constantine. That church replaced a temple to the Greek god Adonis, which had been built over a series of caves that were considered to be the actual location of Christ's birth.
A 14-pointed silver star marks the location of the original manger. Around the star, the Latin words Hic De Virgine Maria Jesus Christus Natus Est, proclaim "Here of the Virgin Mary, Jesus Christ was born." Only a few hundred people are invited each year to the Mass, but in nearby Manger Square, the service is broadcast on giant television screens for people who desire to be near the birthplace of their Lord.
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