News of the San Gabriel Valley since 1966.

Christmas Around the World

Jo Anne Disney

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Christmas is celebrated all over the world and has a variety of names and traditions that are very special during this holiday season. Here I have named just a few. Hanukkah is the “Jewish Feast of Lights” or “Feast of Dedication” This holiday begins on the eve of the 25th day of the Hebrew month of Kislev, lasts 8 days and usually falls in the month of December. Then, we have Kwanzaa, which is an African-American holiday that lasts for 7 days, beginning December 26th and ending January 1st.  At Kwanzaa time, African-Americans think about their people, their struggles and their future.
In Mexico, Christmas is called “Navidad.” The main celebration is “posadas” which means “inn.” And for 9 nights friends gather for a parade, carrying small figures of baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph. They re-enact the scene at Bethlehem. Ending on Christmas Eve, the figure of baby Jesus is placed in the manger and everyone sings songs and says prayers, while bells ring. A big party takes place and then everyone goes to church. In addition, Christmas in Iran today is called “Little Feast.” They begin to fast on December 1st, eating no meat or diary. This is “considered a time for peace and prayer.” The Little Feast begins after church on December 25th, where special foods are prepared and served.
Then, the “trees of light” are what Christmas trees are called in China. The Christians decorate their homes with “beautiful paper lanterns and decorate their trees with paper chains, paper flowers and paper lanterns.” And, when Santa comes to visit, he is called “Dun Che Lao Ren.” In Sweden, the holiday festivities begin on December 13th. This is St. Lucia Day. On this day, they celebrate the “Festival of Light.” Then on Christmas Eve, families have special dinners and open their gifts. On Christmas Day everyone goes to church and then rests.
In Italy, the Italians celebrate “Natale.” No matter what part of Italy you are from, Christmas is the time to spend with your family. Wonderful dishes are always prepared while tables overflow for this grand feast. Traditional menu dishes may include lasagna, sausages and eggplant. Special bread known as “panettone” is served as well as wonderful desserts like the nougat candy known as “torrone” and pastry shells filled with creamy ricotta called “cannoli.” On Christmas Eve in France, children “put their shoes in front of the fireplace” in hope that “Pere Noel” (Father Christmas) will fill them with presents. And, in Germany they make special spicy cakes called “Lebkuchen” and place them on their Christmas trees as ornaments, while in Austria and New Zealand Christmas comes in the summertime.
Whatever your traditions may be this holiday season, the most precious gift we have is to spend time with family and friends. No matter where you live, remember our soldiers and those who have lost homes to fires and floods. May your holidays be merry and may the New Year bring health, peace and happiness to us all.  HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

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News of the San Gabriel Valley since 1966.
Christmas Around the World