Christmas traditions around the world

Kendall Evans

With it being the holiday season, many families have their own certain traditions they do during this jolly time of year.

You probably have your own traditions you do with your family, but there are a lot of families in the world whose traditions probably aren’t the same as yours. Christmas is a holiday celebrated worldwide in many different ways.

In Africa, on Christmas morning people meet and go caroling from village to village. These carols start as early as 8 a.m. and the carolers wake many people that morning. On the west coast of Africa, many families have an oil palm set up as their Christmas tree, which is decorated with bells. On Christmas day, many games are played, dinner is eaten outside and at night fireworks are set off in celebration.

In European countries such as Ireland, France and Italy, the Christmas celebration lasts a few weeks after Christmas until Epiphany on Jan. 6.

In Italian tradition, children do not open their presents until Epiphany. Instead of Santa delivering presents, a kind, ugly witch named Befanna delivers the presents to the children. Befanna acts just as Santa does by sliding down chimneys and leaving presents in stockings for the good boys and girls.

Irish Christmas traditions are more focused around faith than having fun. On Christmas Eve, Irish families leave candles in their windows as a guide for Mary and Joseph. After dinner on Christmas day, many families leave out bread and milk with their doors unlocked as a sign of hospitality to others. It is also common to leave out mince pies and a bottle of Guinness for Santa instead of milk and cookies.

A Yule Log is a tradition heavily celebrated in France. This tradition started back before medieval times as a Nordic tradition that made its way across the globe. French families go out together on the morning of Christmas Eve to cut down a tree for their home. Once they select a tree, they cut the log down and the bit that is cut off is burned later that evening. The log is burned for 12 days and if there is any of the log left on the twelfth day it is saved for next year’s Christmas.

Coming a little closer to the United States, in South America, Christmas is celebrated more as a harvest festival. Christmas tends to be more of a time to give thanks to the Goddess Mother Earth in hopes for a fruitful harvest.

In Ecuador, children leave out their shoes rather than stockings for gifts to be set in. Brazilian families do not have Christmas trees but have a creche or Presepio instead which represents the Christ-child’s birth. Since it is very warm, many celebrate in the streets with firecrackers, brass bands and dancing.

As you can see, many different types of people celebrate this holiday in many different ways. There are even different traditions that happen throughout the United States.

Many caroling festivals happen in Boston. An ox decorated with ribbons and hollies is paraded around the streets in New Orleans. Hawaii has a Christmas luau featuring a Kalua pig as the main course.

Traditions bring people together. As you celebrate your traditions this Christmas, think of new traditions you could add.