Chances are if you are reading this blog post you live in the United States so you know how we decorate and celebrate Christmas. We love Christmas decorations! 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 3 part series will cover many areas of the world and are grouped by geographic areas. Part 1 will cover North & South America, Part 2 India & Africa, and Part 3 Italy & Greece.
Canadians decorate pine Christmas trees with ornaments, enjoy Advent calendars, Christmas cookies and gingerbread houses plus leave presents under the Christmas tree. Santa Claus brings the gifts down the chimney and sets them under the Christmas tree on Christmas Day and flies from house to house with his 9 reindeer, just like the United States.
In Quebec, the French speaking part of Canada, people may put a decorated Christmas tree both inside and outside, adorned with colored lights. On January 6th, Christmas ends and residents make a cake which has a bean inside. The person who finds the bean is the king or queen.
A small artificial tree, bush or even a branch from a real tree is the norm for their Christmas tree. Piñatas containing money and candy and are scattered after the children repeatedly strike the piñata and break it open. Mexicans decorate the outside with large, colorful lights and an elaborate nativity scene is a staple for most Mexican’ families. The poinsettia plant was brought to the U.S. from Mexico in 1928 by Joel R. Poinsett where it became popular due to its bright red color.
For countries that exist in this region, Christmas falls during their summertime. People in South America celebrate Christmas very religiously. The manger at Bethlehem is the central focus where an entire room is often filled with an elaborate nativity set. The display is landscaped with elaborate scenes and includes small figures such as shepherds with their flock, the Wise Men crossing the desert, trains and sailboats.
Falling snow is represented by placing pieces of cotton on a pine tree. Fresh flowers are used to decorate the house, fireworks and huge Christmas trees of electric light displays are seen in the skies of major cities. Nativity scenes are common and displayed in homes, stores and churches in December. Father Noel brings presents. Midnight mass is attended by devout Catholics. To learn more about how Brazilians celebrate Christmas, check out our article, Christmas in Brazil.
The nativity scene is the primary focus for Christmas decorations. Children find their presents under the Christmas tree on Christmas morning, but adults do not exchange gifts until New Year’s Day.
Daily early morning mass is frequented by the religious from December 16-24th. In major cities residents roller skate to mass and many neighborhoods close the streets to cars until 8:00 am. After mass, tostados and coffee are shared by all.