It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas… The time of glowing lights, decorated Christmas trees, dinner preparations and family get-togethers. Although Christmas is a huge thing in the USA and also a well known event across Europe, there are a lot of countries, worldwide (!) that celebrate this festive happening. Every year, and each country in their own way. Curious to know how? We made a selection of exceptional traditions and surprising similarities: from family celebrations to “El Angelito” and “the little star”.
Nepalese Christmas trees
Nepal is a rich mix of different cultures and traditions, melded over thousands of years into a unique blend. Family and religion are important, and are reflected throughout the Nepalese culture. Christmas in Nepal is celebrated with many of the same traditions as we see in the Benelux and America. Trees are decorated and families and friends gather together to celebrate and exchange presents. The Cristian families share the Good News of Jesus Christ and host special Christmas feasts, think of chicken, vegetable salad and other Nepali culinary dishes, along with turkey, pumpkin pies and puddings.
Norway lits up
Christmas in Norway is filled with many celebrations and traditions. Old and new traditions. As soon as the snow is beginning to fall and the country turns into a winter wonderland, Norwegians start to prepare for a long season of ‘juletid’. Every year, by the end of November when days are getting darker, many cities organize a City Lights ceremony, including a parade and an official moment of pulling the big switch to light up the city streets. On the first Sunday of Advent, all Norwegians usually come together at town squares for the “Lighting of the Christmas Tree” celebration. While the tree lits up people hold hands and dance around the Christmas tree singing carols.
El Angelito, a Dominican tradition
Christmas is grand and important holiday in Dominican Republic, starting in October and ends in January. Parties, spectacular fireworks, relaxing family time and fantastic food: excitement is felt in the streets throughout the whole country. The aromas of food fill the streets, coming from kitchens where people are preparing their Christmas specialties. A tradition for gift exchange is called Un Angelito/ A Little Angel, a tradition all social classes practice. All the names of the participants are placed in a sack. Then a name is selected from the bunch. The person whose name you chose is your Angelito. Throughout the whole Christmas holiday you are to give that person, a gift. Every week. The identity of your Angelito is to be kept secret until the last day of the gift exchange.
Sweet and starry night in Poland
“Boże Narodzenie” is what Christmas is called in Polish (literally ‘God’s Birth’). Christmas holidays in Poland are celebreated very well and go hand it hand with gingerbread hearts and sweet honey liquer. Christmas Eve starts with fasting, before the ‘feasting’ begins. An important part of Christmas Eve is the appearance of the first star in remembrance of the Star of Bethlehem: “the little star”. Children watch the Polish skies anxiously hoping to be the first to cry out, “The star has come!” Only after the little star appears, family members sit down to have dinner. In some areas of the country, children believe “The Little Star” brings the gifts. After the presents are being unwrapped, carollers walk from house to house receiving treats along the way.