Christmas Advent - Around the World 2014

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This presentation on the twelve days of Christmas features facts about how different countries celebrate it.

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Christmas in the United Kingdom:

Christmas in the United Kingdom In the UK, families often celebrate Christmas together. Most families have a Christmas Tree in their house for Christmas. The decorating of the tree is usually a family occasion, with everyone helping. Children believe that Father Christmas or Santa Claus leaves presents in stockings or pillow-cases. These are normally hung up by the fire or by the children's beds on Christmas Eve. Children sometimes leave out mince pies and brandy for Father Christmas to eat and drink when he visits them . In the UK, the main Christmas Meal is usually eaten at lunchtime or early afternoon on Christmas Day. It's normally roast turkey, roast vegetables and 'all the trimmings' which means vegetables like carrots, peas, stuffing and sometimes bacon and sausages.

Christmas in Denmark:

Christmas in Denmark In Denmark most people go to a Church Service on Christmas Eve about 4.00pm to hear the Christmas Story. When they get home the main Christmas meal is eaten between 6.00pm and 8.00pm. Most people, after dinner, dance around the Christmas Tree before they open their presents. Most families have a ' ris á la mande ' (a special kind of rice pudding, made of milk, rice, vanilla, almonds and whipped cream) for dessert. All but one of the almonds are chopped into pieces. The person who finds the whole almond gets a present. On Christmas day people meet with their family and have a big lunch together with Danish open-faced sandwiches on rye-bread. In Denmark, children believe that their presents are brought by the ' Julemanden ' (which means 'Christmas Man'). He looks very similar to Santa Claus and also travels with a sleigh and reindeer. He lives in Greenland, likes rice pudding and is helped by ' nisser ' which are like elves.

Christmas in Jamaica:

Christmas in Jamaica Christmas is a very special time in Jamaica and like a lot of other countries, radio stations play carols all through the Christmas period. Lots of people paint their houses and hang new curtains and decorations for Christmas. Most families spend Christmas Day at home with friends and family members. The Christmas day meal is usually prepared on Christmas Eve. The traditional Jamaican Christmas meal include fresh fruits, sorrel and rum punch and meat. The Christmas Day breakfast includes ackee and saltfish , breadfruit, fried plantains, boiled bananas, freshly squeezed fruit juice and tea. Dinner is usually served in the late afternoon and this may include chicken, curry goat, stewed oxtail, rice and peas. Jamaican red wine and rum fruitcake is traditional and is eaten in most homes. The fruits in the cake are soaked in red wine and white rum for months before Christmas.

Christmas in Argentina:

Christmas in Argentina In Argentina the weather is warm at Christmas. Preparations for Christmas begin very early in December and even November. Many people in Argentina are Catholic and so also celebrate Advent. House are beautifully decorated with lights and wreaths of green, gold, red and white flowers. Red and white garlands are hung on the doors of houses.  Some people like to put cotton balls on the Christmas Tree to represent snow ! The Nativity scene or ' pesebre ' is also an important Christmas decoration in Argentina. The pesebre is put near to the Christmas tree. The main Christmas meal is eaten during the evening of Christmas Eve. It might be served in the garden or be a barbecue! Some popular dishes include roasted turkey, roasted pork, stuffed tomatoes and Christmas bread and puddings like 'Pan Dulce ' and Panetone . At midnight there will be the sound of lots of fireworks! People also like to 'toast' the start of Christmas day. Some people like to go to midnight services, but other prefer to stay at home and let off fireworks and then open their presents under the tree!

Christmas in Germany:

Christmas in Germany Christmas Trees are very important in Germany. They were first used in Germany during the Middle Ages. If there are young children in the house, the trees are usually secretly decorated by the Mother of the family. The Christmas tree was traditionally brought into the house on Christmas eve, and during that evening the family would read the Bible and sing Christmas songs such as O Tannenbaum , Ihr Kinderlein Kommet and  Stille Nacht ( Slient Night). Santa Claus or Father Christmas ( der Weihnachtsmann ) brings the presents on December 24th. December 6th is St. Nicholas' Day and " der Nikolaus " brings some small gifts, such as sweets and chocolate, to the children. He comes in the night between the 5th and the 6th and puts the presents into the shoes of the children, who usually place them by their doors on the previous evening. In some regions of Germany, there is a character called " Knecht Ruprecht " or " Krampus " who accompanies Nikolaus (St. Nicholas) on the 6th of December. He is big horned monster clothed in rags and carries a birch. He will punish the children who were bad and will give them a birch as a present. He is usually the one who scares the little children. In other parts of Germany, St. Nicholas is followed by a small person called "Schwarz Peter" (Black Peter) who carries a small whip. Black Peter also accompanies St. Nicholas or Sinterklaas in Holland . In north west Germany Santa is joined by Belsnickel a man dressed all in fur.

Christmas in the United States of America:

Christmas in the United States of America The United States of America has many different traditions and ways that people in celebrate Christmas, because of its multi-cultural nature. The traditional meal for Western European families is turkey or ham with cranberry sauce. Families from Eastern European origins favour turkey with trimmings, keilbasi (a Polish sausage), cabbage dishes, and soups; and some Italian families prefer lasagne! Some Americans use pop-corn threaded on string to help decorate their Christmas Tree! In Hawaii, Santa is called Kanakaloka ! In the Southwest USA, there are some special customs which have some similarities to those in parts of Mexico. These include ' luminarias ' or ' farolitos ' which are paper sacks partly filled with sand and then have a candle put in them. They are lit on Christmas Eve and are put the edges of paths. They represent 'lighting the way' for somewhere for Mary and Joseph to stay.

Christmas in Mexico:

Christmas in Mexico In Mexico, Christmas is celebrated from the December 12th to January 6th. From December 16th to Christmas Eve, children often perform the 'Posada' processions or Posadas. Posada is Spanish for Inn or Lodging. There are nine Posadas. These celebrate the part of the Christmas story where Joseph and Mary looked for a room in an Inn. For the Posadas, the outside of houses are decorated with evergreens, moss and paper lanterns. One game that is often played at Posada parties is piñata. A piñata is a decorated clay or papier-mâché jar filled with sweets and hung from the ceiling or tree branch. The piñata is often decorated something like a ball with seven peaks around it. The peaks or spikes represent the 'seven deadly sins '. In Mexico, children get their main presents at Epiphany (January 6th). In Mexico, Epiphany is known as 'El Dia de los Reyes' (the day of The Three Kings). The presents are left by the Three Kings (or Magi). It's traditional to eat a special cake called ' Rosca de Reyes' (Three Kings Cake) on Epiphany. A figure of Baby Jesus is hidden inside the cake. Whoever has the baby Jesus in their piece of cake is the 'Godparent' of Jesus for that year. Another important day, is Candelaria (also known as Candlemas) on the 2nd February and it marks the end of the Mexican Christmas celebrations. In Mexico, presents might also be brought by 'El Niñito Dios' (baby Jesus) & Santo Clós (Santa Claus) February 2nd ' Candelaria ' (it's called ' Candlemas ' in many parts of the world) is the day when Christians remember when Jesus was taken to the Temple as a baby and officially named. Lots of Mexicans have a party for Candelaria .

Christmas in Pakistan:

Christmas in Pakistan In Pakistan, December 25th is a public holiday, but it is in memory of Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan. Like in India, Christians make up a very small part of the population. But as Pakistan has a population over 162 million people, there are more than 5 millions Christians ! At Christian festivals, like Christmas and Easter, a big procession takes place, in Lahore, from St. Anthony's Church to the Cathedral. It takes hours to reach the Cathedral for the services. These are then celebrated with lots of enthusiasm! Before and during Advent spiritual seminars take place to help people to prepare for Christmas or 'Bara Din' (which in Urdu and Punjabi means the 'Big Day'). On Bara Din or Christmas day, Christians go to Church again for the Bara Din celebrations. People wear their best, colourful clothes. They can stay in the Church courtyard for hours, enjoying various food from the different stalls. The evening is usually celebrated with immediate family or relatives where special food is enjoyed. Adults often visit their parents. The traditional Christmas greeting in Punjabi is 'Bara Din Mubarrak Ho', which means, 'the blessing of Christmas on you'. In Pakistan Santa is known as 'Christmas Baba'.

Christmas in China:

Christmas in China In China, only about one percent of people are Christians, so most people only know a few things about Christmas. Christmas is only often celebrated in the major cities. In these big cities there are Christmas Trees, lights and other decorations on the streets and in department stores. Santa Claus is called ' Shen Dan Lao Ren ' and has grottos in shops like is Europe and America. In Chinese Happy/Merry Christmas is ' Sheng Dan Kuai Le or 圣诞快乐 ' in Mandarin and ' Seng Dan Fai Lok or 聖誕快樂 ' in Cantonese . A tradition that's becoming popular, on Christmas Eve, is giving apples. Many stores have apples wrapped up in colored paper for sale. People give apples on Christmas Eve because in Chinese Christmas Eve is called 'Ping An Ye' (which means quiet or silent night) and the word for apple, 'Ping Guo ‘, sounds similar.

Christmas in Egypt:

Christmas in Egypt n Egypt about 15% of people are Christians. They are the only part of the population who really celebrate Christmas. Most Egyptian Christians belong to the Coptic Orthodox Church and they have some very unique traditions for Christmas. Christmas Day isn't celebrated on the 25th December but on 7th January. The Coptic month leading to Christmas is called Kiahk . People sing special praise songs on Saturday nights before the Sunday Service. For the 43 days before Christmas (Advent), from 25th November to 6th January, Coptic Orthodox Christians have a special fast where they eat a vegan diet. This is called 'The Holy Nativity Fast'. But if people are too weak or ill to fast properly they can be excused. On Coptic Christmas Eve (6th January), Coptic Christians go to church for a special liturgy or Service . When the Christmas service ends people go home to eat the big Christmas meal. All the foods contain meat, eggs and butter. One popular course if 'Fata' a lamb soup which contains bread, rice, garlic and boiled lamb meat. On the Orthodox Christmas Day (7th) people come together in homes for parties and festivities. People often take ' kahk ' (special sweet biscuits) with them to give as gifts.

Christmas in Zimbabwe:

Christmas in Zimbabwe For most people in Zimbabwe, Christmas day starts with a Church service. After the Church service, everyone has a party in their homes and people go from house to house, visiting all of their family and friends on the way home! Sometimes, this can take all of the rest of the day! At every house you have something to eat, exchange presents and enjoy the party! Everyone wears their best clothes for Christmas, as for some families the only new clothes they get every year are for Christmas. The parties are a good place to show off their new clothes. Children in Zimbabwe believe that Santa Claus brings them there presents early on Christmas Day, ready to show their friends at Church and at the parties. Only the main room in the house is often decorated in Zimbabwe. Some Zimbabweans have a traditional 'European' Christmas Tree, but they decorate the room with plants like Ivy. This is draped around the whole of the top of room.

Christmas in New Zealand:

Christmas in New Zealand In New Zealand, like its neighbour Australia, Christmas comes in the middle of the summer holidays . Many towns have a Santa parade with decorated floats, bands and marching girls. This can be any time from mid November onwards and is really a commercial event but much enjoyed by all. Many people have a Christmas Tree in their homes and decorate it like people in the USA or UK. Many New Zealanders have a barbecue for Christmas lunch and this is becoming more popular. The food cooked on the barbecue is often ham slices or even venison or some other kind of exotic meat. Shrimps and other fish are also barbecued! In the Maori language Happy/Merry Christmas is ' Meri Kirihimete '.

Christmas in Austria:

Christmas in Austria During Advent, many families will have an Advent Wreath made from evergreen twigs and decorated with ribbons and four candles. One each of the four Sunday in Advent, a candle is lit and a carol will be sung. Most towns will have a ' Christkindlmarkt ' (Christmas market) selling Christmas decorations, food (like gingerbread) and Glühwein (sweet, warm mulled wine). Cities like Vienna, Innsbruck and Salzburg have huge markets and people from all over the world to visit them . Some children believed that the ' Christkind ' decorates the tree. The Christkind also brings presents to children on Christmas Eve and leaves them under the tree. (The Christkind is described as a golden-haired baby, with wings, who symbolizes the new born Christ.) Some children might also get a present from St Nicholas on December 6th. The main Christmas meal is also eaten on Christmas Eve. It's often ' Gebackener Karpfen ' (fried carp) as the main course, this is because Christmas Eve was considered a 'fasting' day by many Catholics and no meat could be eaten. However ' Weihnachtsgans ' (roast goose) and roast turkey are becoming more popular. Dessert can be chocolate and apricot cake ' Sachertorte ' and Austrian Christmas cookies ' Weihnachtsbaeckerei '.

 Christmas in Russia:

 Christmas in Russia Christmas is celebrated normally on the January 7th (only a few Catholics might celebrate it on the 25th December). The date is different because the Russian Orthodox church uses the old 'Julian' calendar for religious celebration days. The Russian Christmas greeting is 'S Rozhdestvom !'. Some people fast (don't eat anything) on Christmas Eve, until the first star has appeared in the sky. People then eat ' sochivo ' or ' kutia ' a porridge made from wheat or rice served with honey, poppy seeds, fruit (especially berries and dried fruit like raisins), chopped walnuts or sometimes even fruit jellies ! The New Year celebrations are still very important to Russians (sometimes more than Christmas). This is when 'Father Frost' (known in Russian as ' Ded Moroz ‘) brings presents to children. He is accompanied by his Grandaughter ( Snegurochka ). On New Year's eve children hold hands, make a circle around the Christmas tree and call for Snegurochka or Ded Moroz . When they appear the star and other lights on the Christmas tree light up! Ded Moroz carries a big magic staff. The traditional greeting for Happy New Year is 'S Novym Godom '.

Christmas in Sri Lanka:

Christmas in Sri Lanka Although Sri Lanka is a mostly Buddhist country (only 7% of people are Christians) Christmas is a celebrated, as a public holiday, by everyone. Most Christians in Sri Lanka are Catholics. There has been influences from several different European countries. Sri Lanka (it was also called Ceylon) was ruled by the Portuguese from 1505 to 1650, the Dutch from 1658 to 1796 and the British from 1815 to 1948. For Christians in Sri Lanka, the Christmas season starts on 1st December when people let off fire crackers at dawn! The Christians go to Midnight Mass services all over the country. They also invite friends, both Christian and non Christian, to their homes for parties. New Year is also widely celebrated with more fire crackers! There are also Midnight Mass services for New Year. In Sri Lanka Santa is called Naththal Seeya .

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