Chances are if you are reading this blog post you live in the United States so you know how important Christmas decorations are to us. We trim a Christmas tree, exchange gifts, have bountiful meals, decorate our houses inside and out, bake cookies and more. But, how do other countries celebrate this religious day? This 7 part series will cover many areas of the world and are grouped by geographic areas. Part 1 covered North & South America, Part 2 India & Africa, Part 3 Italy & Greece.
Christmas is a major celebration in India beginning on December 24th and continues until New Year’s Day. Christians attend mass in churches but in major cities Christmas Festival (as it is called) is celebrated by all religions and is a national holiday. Christmas trees are decorated with stars, balloons and images of Santa. Festivities such as baking, lighting candles and caroling are participated in by all. Students of all denominations participate in nativity plays and caroling.
Christians in India actually start their Christmas preparation at least a month in advance by indulging in spring cleaning and shopping. Everyone receives new clothes for the festival and gifts are bought for children in the family and for friends. Those working away from their family come home to celebrate.
Christmas decorations in India are based on their location. Christians from Southern India light clay lamps on the rooftops and walls of their houses. Rather than embellish an evergreen tree, they decorate banana or mango trees. In Northwest India, Christians go caroling every evening for a week. In Mumbai, homes are decorated with large stars and nativity scenes.
Carolers walk throughout their village in the morning singing songs. Christmas worship is a major celebration whereby attendees give presents near the Communion table. December 26th is Boxing Day, a public holiday and a day of relaxation.
Windows are decorated with wool, tinsel and sparkling cotton. On Christmas Eve, children hang their stockings. Christmas trees are not common but pine branches adorn people’s homes. A decorated Christmas tree will be surrounded with gifts for the children.
Ghana (Africa’s West coast)
Churches decorate the church and residents their homes four weeks before Christmas.
Liberia (Africa’s West coast)
An oil palm is used for their Christmas tree and may be embellished with bells. At church the Christmas scene is enacted and carols sung. Dinner is eaten outdoors in a circle followed by games and then fireworks at night.
For those of you who may have visited Africa, this may be a wonderful way to commemorate your trip! Check out our Africa Suitcase Christmas Ornament!