I absolutely love chatting with people I meet from all over the world about their culture and traditions. I find that you can understand so much about a cultures values from the way they celebrate and who they include in those celebrations!
I have randomly chosen a few countries to share some of their holiday traditions with you!
The Philippines has the longest celebration season of all the countries I researched. You will find people singing and playing Christmas carols as early as September 1st and lasting until January 6th. Many people attend church and eat their big meal on December 24th at midnight. Fireworks, carolling and a lot of parties and celebrating happen during their Christmas season. Christmas is a family affair for most Filipino families.
Christmas in New Zealand falls during their warmer season so their imagery is very similar to North America but they just happen to be in a warm paradise! Lucky ducks! One big difference is their version of a Christmas Tree. The Pohutukawa is a plant that flowers large crimson flowers in December and has become New Zealand's symbol of Christmas. As a result of the warmer time of year their holiday meals include BBQ lunches with fresh local fruit. New Zealanders surround themselves with family and are often found enjoying the outdoors, beaches and attending masses.
Christmas is a relatively new celebration in Japan. It has only been celebrated for the last two decades. Japan has very few Christians so the holiday is not based on religion but a chance to spread happiness! You know I love that! There is a romance to Christmas in Japan. Many couples go for long walks together and exchange gifts. Fried Chicken is the meal of choice for most. KFC takes orders to ensure everyone receives their holiday dinner. They also eat Christmas cake but it is more like an angel food cake with strawberries than the dense Christmas cake we have in North America.
Children in Finland believe in Santa Claus and feel very lucky that Santa lives just north of them so they are the first stop on his journey! Families try to be home and together at Christmas. Everyone cleans their home in preparation for the 3 holy days the 24th, 25th and 26th. It is customary on Christmas Eve to eat rice porridge and plum fruit juice for breakfast and then go to purchase and decorate the tree. Because it is dark by 3pm in most of Finland it is customary to go to the graves of loved ones. It's so popular that the entire cemetery will be lit with glow lanterns. Other people will opt to go for a sauna on Christmas Eve. A large, early dinner follows. The meal includes lutefisk (salt fish) a traditional starter, the main meal is usually a leg of pork and various vegetable casseroles.
Christmas in Costa Rica is arguably their best weather season of the year. December 24th is the largest day for celebrations and a family meal is served close to midnight. Because the weather is so great Costa Ricans take advantage by having 'Topes' that are similar to parades including people on horseback, beautiful dancers and wonderful costumes. A common yard decoration is a nativity scene with their special twist of adding brightly coloured flowers. Their meals are a family affair and consist of chicken and pork tamales, or roast pork with rice and potatoes. Cinnamon-dusted apples are a holiday favourite.
I absolutely love learning about how other cultures celebrate the holidays! In all of the research I completed to choose these countries to feature, I noticed one amazing thing, we ALL celebrate by spending time with family. That is a universal form of celebration and that is such an amazing reminder that we are more the same than we are different. What are your favourite cultural celebrations that your ancestors passed down through the generations in your family? I love hearing from you so comment on here or on my social media posts for this blog!
See you tomorrow for Day 4 of my 12 Days of Christmas!