Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Christmas Worldwide...

Christmas celebrations include a great number and variety of customs with either secular, religious, or national aspects which vary from country to country:
In the
Southern Hemisphere, Christmas occurs during the summer. This clashes with the traditional winter iconography, resulting in images such as a fur-coated Santa Claus surfing in for a turkey barbecue on Australia's Bondi Beach. New Zealanders also commonly celebrate Christmas at the beach, coinciding with the vibrant red flowering of the coastal Pohutukawa or "New Zealand Christmas Tree".
Japan has adopted Santa Claus for its secular Christmas celebration, but New Year's Day is a far more important holiday. In South Korea Christmas is celebrated as an official holiday, and in India it is often called bada din ("the big day"). Celebrations revolve around Santa Claus and shopping.
Poland, Santa Claus ( Święty Mikołaj) gives gifts on two occasions: on the night of December 5 (so that children find them on the morning of December 6), and on Christmas Eve. In addition to the major observances of Christmas, German children also put shoes out at their doors on the night of December 5, and find them filled with candy and small gifts the next morning. Santa Claus ( Mikulás), or Father Winter ( Télapó) also visits Hungary on December 6, bringing small gifts, and is often accompanied by a black creature called Krampusz; while on Christmas Eve (Holy Night - (Szenteste) the Little Jesus (Kisjézus or Jézuska) delivers the presents.
Spain, gifts are brought by the Magi on Epiphany (January 6), and in Scotland, presents were traditionally given on Hogmanay, which is New Year's Eve. In recent times, both countries have also adopted gift-giving on Christmas Eve/Christmas Day. In England and Wales, children traditionally hang up a stocking on Christmas eve , into which Father Christmas places gifts which are discovered and opened on December 25.
The Declaration of Christmas Peace has been a tradition in
Finland from the Middle Ages every year, except in 1939 . The declaration takes place in the Old Great Square of Turku, Finland's official Christmas City and former capital. It is broadcast on Finnish radio and television. Sauna bathing has an important role in Finnish Christmas, often after the visit of Joulupukki on Christmas Eve.
Saint Nicholas' Day remains the principal day for gift giving in the
Netherlands while Christmas Day is a more religious holiday.
Russia, Grandfather Frost brings presents on New Year's Eve, and these are opened on the same night. However, after the Russian Revolution, Christmas celebration was banned in that country from 1917 until 1992. Even today, throughout the U.S. and Europe, several Christian denominations, notably the Jehovah's Witnesses , Puritans, and some fundamentalists, view Christmas as a pagan holiday not sanctioned by the Bible.


Anonymous A NY JW said...

Well I even learned a thing or two!

Thanx for the briefing of Xmas around the world and the customs; you are correct in stating that we don't celebrate it, and that info can be found in detail (as you probably know) in encyclopedias and on the Web as far as the origins of most folks' "Holy Day" ;^)

9:26 pm  

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