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Christmas around the world

The+map+shows+which+countries+observe+Christmas+or+do+not+celebrate+the+holiday.+
The map shows which countries observe Christmas or do not celebrate the holiday.

The map shows which countries observe Christmas or do not celebrate the holiday.

The map shows which countries observe Christmas or do not celebrate the holiday.

Jalynn Falk, Photo/Design Editor (Managing)

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As Christmas gets closer and the spirit grows, many people don’t think about the ways that others celebrate Christmas around the world. How is it that one holiday can unite the majority of a nation through common beliefs? Every country has a different culture which makes the tradition of that country so diverse compared to others. In America, there are some differences between traditions, but how does the rest of the world celebrate Christmas?

According to donquijote.org, in Spain there is a Christmas tradition called Los Tres Reyes Magos (the Three Wise Men). The Kings are believed to have followed a star to meet the new King of Kings, which was baby Jesus. The Kings then offered him three presents: gold, frankincense and myrrh (a resin extracted from trees) in Bethlehem.

In December, the children of Spain write to either all three of the Kings or just to their personal favorite. The names of the three of the Kings’ names are Melchior, Gaspar and Balthasar. In the child’s letter, they write down what they would like to get as a present on Jan. 6 when they will receive their presents, but only if they have been good. If the child was not good, they receive coal just as children do with Santa Claus.

On Jan. 5, the night before the Kings arrive, the kids put shoes by their door so that the Kings know how many kids they need to give presents to. The children leave food for the Kings and water the grass for the camels the Kings travel on. In the morning, presents are left in and around the shoes left out for the Kings.

According to www.whychristmas.com, one Italian Christmas tradition is to use cribs to tell the story of Christmas. Many Italian families still keep a Nativity Crib in their home. The first Crib Scene was thought to go back to 1025 in Naples. The cribs are to be put out on Dec. 8 and families leave them out for weeks after preparing them.

Another Italian Christmas tradition is that on Christmas Eve, no meat, and possibly no dairy, are to be eaten. However, an American-Italian tradition is the Feast of the Seven Fishes, where a family eats different kinds of fish on Christmas Eve. When immigrants came to America, it was said that they had shared the tradition with people in America. The tradition still continues to this day and may be more popular in America than it is in Italy.

Also in Italy, there is an evening known as Epiphany Night. On this night, children believe that an old woman by the name of Befana delivers presents to their house and puts the presents into the stockings they leave for her.

China celebrates Christmas very similarly to Americans. In China, Santa Claus is called “Shen Dan Lao Ren” and is said to have grottos (a structure that resembles a cave) in shops. Few people in China decorate trees, but there are people that sing Christmas carols, even though not everyone knows about the meaning or the Christmas Story. On Christmas Eve, a tradition that is becoming more popular is giving apples. They do this because the chinese word for apple is píngguo, but it sounds like the chinese word ping’an ye, which means “peace”. Apples are sold in colorful paper so that people can give them to others.

Christmas is not the same in any part of the world; however, it can be similar to the way that families in America celebrate Christmas. Many different legends and practices are done around winter. Christmas doesn’t even take place during the same time when comparing multiple countries. These Christmas traditions could be looked at in a new way once people learn what tradition means to others around the world.

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Christmas around the world