Christmas is celebrated in a different way throughout the world depending on country, religion and climate. For instance, in the Southern Hemisphere the weather is much hotter because it is their summer.
This gives rise to Christmas celebrations on the beach. Many countries have adopted Western Christmas rituals. Many Japanese people believe in Father Christmas, whilst still giving priority to New Years Day as the most important holiday.
Different nationalities give rise to different unique customs. For instance, in Poland Father Christmas gives gifts twice (once on December 5th and once on Christmas Eve.) Children in Germany leave shoes on windowsills on December 5th for Father Christmas to fill.
Father Winter visits Hungary on December 6th, sometimes accompanied by a black creature called Krampusz, whilst on Christmas Eve baby Jesus himself delivers the presents. In Spain, gifts are brought by the Magi on Epiphany (January 6), whilst 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 Russia, Grandfather Frost delivers presents on New Year’s Eve, when the presents are also opened.
Several of the major Christian denominations view Christmas as a pagan festival. In India, the Christmas period is celebrated, and continues into New Year celebrations. In Hindi, Christmas is known as the Bada Din, or Big Day. In South Korea, Christmas is recognised as a public holiday, although non-Christian Koreans will continue to go about their daily routine.
Father Christmas is called Santa Harabeoji in Korean. South Korea is the only country in East Asia to recognise Christmas as a public holiday. Japan celebrates Christmas also, although it is not a national holiday. New Year’s Day remains the most sacred holiday in Japan, a festival of family togetherness. Christmas Eve in Japan sees lovers go on dates and exchange gifts.
In China, most Christians unofficially celebrate Christmas, as it is not recognised as a legal holiday. However, Christmas imagery is becoming more common in Chinese cities, possibly because of retail marketing trends.
The Philippines celebrate the longest Christmas season in the world, starting on December 16th.
Christmas Eve is a night of great feasting after midnight mass. In South America, religious Christmas themes are more common. There are gift-giving traditions, and nativity scenes are common. Family Christmas meals are thought of as very important.
What social events happen at Christmas time?
Christmas is a time for gathering and socialising. Many businesses, associations, schools and communities hold Christmas parties. Many schools and theatre companies put on Christmas events such as pantomimes and nativity plays.
Some charities and organisations put together voluntary events such as soup kitchens for the homeless at Christmas. Others hold fundraising drives. Special meals and eating too much are a major part of Christmas day.
This is also a chance for the family to all come together and celebrate. Families and friends exchange gifts and cards. People wish each other ‘Happy Christmas’ or ‘Happy Holidays.’