At Christmas, Christians all over the world celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Traditional Christmas decorations often can be admired and festive celebrations can be joined in most countries, even in many of the countries where Christianity is not the religion of the majority of people. Christmas trees are a popular decoration as are tiny sparkling lights in windows and on walls.
Some countries have slightly different Christmas traditions and as such festive season celebrations take place over a longer time, from the beginning of December to the beginning of January.
Here are interesting Christmas facts for various countries.
In Italy, a nativity scene, a ‘presepe’, is usually put up in churches, town squares, and often in homes. This is for many the most important part of the Christmas decorations.
The nativity scene display with a crib filled with straw originally stems from Italy and is now a common occurrence in many countries around the world. In Italy, the people wish each other ‘Buon Natale’, which means ‘Merry Christmas’.
December 24th, which is known as La Noche Buena (“the Good Night”), is the main day for celebrations. After mass, families go home to feast, open gifts, and toast each other at midnight.
The most important decorations are pesebre– Nativity scenes intricately carved from wood or stone.
Gifts are spread around the manger rather than a tree, and it’s considered lucky to be the one chosen to put the figurine of baby Jesus into the manger on Christmas Eve.
People in Iceland will often exchange books on Christmas Eve, then spend the rest of the night reading them and eating chocolate. The tradition is part of a season called Jolabokaflod, or “The Christmas Book Flood.”
In South Africa
In South Africa, the weeks before Christmas, people celebrate Christmas on the 25th of December. On Christmas Day the family gathers at a ‘braai’, which is the South African version of a barbecue (BBQ). In South Africa, it is the summer season in December. Many people visit Christmas mass on Christmas day as well. There are few natural Christmas trees, but some people put up decorated artificial trees in their homes.
Festive Christmas celebrations in Germany begin on the 24th of December, on Christmas Eve. Shops close early on Christmas eve, so remember that you have to get your Christmas shopping done by lunchtime. The 26th of December is a public holiday in Germany too and many families celebrate on this day together, going to Church or enjoying a little excursion to a nearby park.