All over the world, Christmas celebrations reflect local culture and traditions. The festivities can be startlingly different from country to country, focusing on different aspects of the nativity story.
Here’s a sample of what I have discovered:
Christmas in Australia: December 25 falls during summer vacation, so many of the country’s Christmas festivities take place outdoors. The most popular event of the Christmas season is called Carols by Candlelight. People come together at night to light candles and sing Christmas carols outside.
Christmas in China: Christians in China call Christmas Sheng Dan Jieh, which means Holy Birth Festival. They decorate their homes with evergreens, posters, and bright paper chains. Families put up a tree, called a “tree of light,” and decorate it with lanterns, flowers, and red paper chains that symbolize happiness. They also light their houses with paper lanterns.
Christmas in England: It is cold, wet, and foggy in England at Christmastime. The day before Christmas is they wrap presents, bake cookies, and hang stockings over the fireplace. Then everyone gathers around the tree as someone tells a classic holiday story. Children write a letter to Father Christmas with their wishes and toss their letter into the fire so their wishes can go up the chimney.
Christmas in Italy: The Christmas season in Italy begins on the first Sunday of Advent, which is four Sundays before Christmas. Christmas features fireworks and bonfires along with holiday music. Families go to the Christmas markets to shop for gifts. Some families set up a Christmas tree and decorate it. Families set up their presepio, or manger scene, on the first day of the novena. They gather before the presepio each morning or evening of novena to light candles and pray.
Christmas in Mexico: The weather is warm and mild in Mexico during the Christmas season. Families shop for gifts, ornaments, and good things to eat in the market stalls, called puestos. They decorate their homes with lilies and evergreens. Family members cut designs in brown paper bags to make lanterns, or farolitos. They place a candle inside and then set the farolitos along sidewalks, windowsills, on rooftops and outdoor walls to illuminate the community with the spirit of Christmas.