Writing on Air

Writing on Air by Jim Paredes

Christmas the world over

Posted on December 06, 2015 by jimparedes

HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE By Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 6, 2015 – 12:00am

It’s hard to find places in the world where people do not recognize or pay homage to Christmas. Even in the Arab world, Christmas is a special day for Arab Christians. It is also a great opportunity for merchants to cash in on shopping and the like. In Dubai, commercial centers go whole hog during Christmas; some people say it is like being in a Western country celebrating the season. The city is bedecked with Yuletide trappings.

Curious to learn how the Christmas season is celebrated in different countries, I looked it up on the Internet and was amazed at the local traditions and practices of people all over the world that make the season unique to them.

Here are some.

1) In India, which has a small minority of Christians, (about three percent of the total population) the fir or pine tree which you find in other countries is absent. Instead, they deck mango and banana trees with tinsel, lights, bells and Christmas balls!

2) In the Czech Republic, Christmas has a touch of Valentine’s. If you are single, you can throw a shoe over your shoulder towards the door. If the shoe lands and its toe points at the door, it is said you will get married in the coming year!

3) Finland has a rather strange practice during Christmas. If the Czechs think of singles getting married, the Fins remember loved ones who have passed away. They go and light candles in cemeteries. At home, they leave food on the table and sleep on the floor in the event that the dead come to visit.

4) In Japan, a marketing ploy that started four decades ago has become a Christmas tradition. While in many parts of the world, the turkey is the main staple at the Christmas table, in Japan it is KFC chicken! Yes, KFC is highly associated with Christmas. KFC sales on Christmas day multiply by five to 10 times the normal.

In Japan, Santa is called “Santa Kuroshu” and is believed to have an eye located on the back of his head so he can see which children are naughty or nice!

5) In the Ukraine, people put artificial cobwebs on trees. According to folklore, there was once a poor family that could not afford to decorate their tree. When Christmas morning came, the children noticed that their tree was filled with cobwebs. When daylight hit the tree, the cobwebs turned to gold and silver, and they had a bountiful Christmas. Thus, the cobweb has become a symbol of Christmas.

6) In response to all the letters that kids write to Santa during Christmas, Canada has assigned H0H-H0H0 as Santa’s official postcode. Thousands of volunteers read the children’s letters and reply to them!

7) The “figgy pudding” in Britain is laced with hopes and wishes. While making it, children are asked to stir the mix clockwise while making a wish. Sometimes, they put objects inside like coins and rings, and whoever finds these during the Christmas meal is believed to have good luck in the coming year by way of wealth and love.

8) In Catalonia, for some strange reason, Christmas is associated with defecation. In nativity scenes, you will find characters grinning and defecating together with the Three Kings, the farm animals with Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus! I have no idea why. Can you imagine seeing this in a Filipino family Belen?

9) In Austria, there is a twist of Halloween thrown in. According to folklore, St. Nicolas has an evil partner named Krampus. Men go around during the Yuletide season dressed as evil Krampus and frighten the children in the streets.

10) In most countries, we expect Santa to hand out the gifts in malls and other places. Not in Italy. A kind, lovable witch named La Befana does it in place of Santa.

11) In Estonia, the sauna experience plays a big part in the lives of people. The three most popular days for family saunas are Christmas, New Year’s Say and Midsummer’s Eve.

To each his own way of celebrating Christmas. One thing is for sure: there is no missing out on Christmas wherever you are.

Leave a Reply

  • January 2019
    M T W T F S S
    « Dec    

↑ Top