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Christmas Traditions around the world

Christmas in Australia Christmas celebrations all over the world reflect local culture and traditions. Here’s how Christmas is celebrated in countries around the world, from Sweden to Australia, and from England to China.
•    Christmas Traditions in Australia Christmas festivities take place outdoors in Australia since December 25th falls during summer vacation. The most popular event of the Christmas season is called Carols by Candlelight. People come together at night to light candles and sing Christmas carols outside. The words like snow and cold winter in the Carols are replaced by some special Australian words. Santa gives the reindeer a rest and uses kangaroos. He also changes his clothes to suit the Australian summer!!
•    Christmas Traditions in China Christmas is called Sheng Dan Jieh in China which means Holy Birth Festival. The small numbers of Christians decorate their homes with evergreens, posters, and bright paper chains. Families put up a Christmas tree, called a "tree of light," and decorate it with beautiful lanterns, flowers, and red paper chains that symbolize happiness. They cut out red pagodas to paste on the windows and light their houses with paper lanterns. Christmas is celebrated in major cities like Shanghai and Beijing. Here there are Christmas trees and decorations on streets and in the department stores.
•    Christmas Traditions in England   Christmas is celebrated on December 25. Families get together for the celebration. The weather in England is cold, wet, and foggy at Christmas time.  Families bake cookies, wrap presents and hang stockings over the fireplace. They gather around the Christmas tree as someone tells a classic holiday story, "A Christmas Carol." Children write a letter to Father Christmas or Santa Claus with their wishes and toss their letter into the fire. Their wishes go up the chimney and Father Christmas reads the smoke. Father Christmas comes to visit the children after they fall asleep on Christmas Eve.
•    Christmas Traditions in Ethiopia   Christmas is a major holiday in Ethiopia but is celebrated on January 7 because Ethiopians follow the ancient Julian calendar.  Christmas or celebration of Christ’s birth by The Ethiopian Orthodox Church is called Ganna. It is a day when families attend church.  Many people fast on their Christmas eve(January 6th). Gifts are not exchanged. Everyone dresses in white. Most Ethiopians wear a traditional dress called shamma -- a thin, white cotton wrap with brightly colored stripes across the ends. Twelve days after Ganna, on January 19, Ethiopians begin the three-day celebration called Timkat, which commemorates the baptism of Christ. Gifts are not exchanged during Ganna or Timkat.
•    Christmas Traditions in France Christmas celebrations in France begin on December 5.  Christmas Eve (Dec. 24th) is the most special time in the French celebration of Christmas.  French carols, called Noels are sung. Yule log (a hard log made out of cherry wood is burned in the hearth, it is sprinkled with red wine so it smells nice while burning) On Christmas Day, families go to church and then enjoy a feast of wonderful dishes. The traditional buche de Noel, a rich butter cream-filled cake is served for dessert.
•     Christmas Traditions in Germany  Advent is big part of Christmas celebrations in Germany.  Advent is the four weeks before Christmas. It means “Coming” in Latin. It is coming of Jesus into the world. Four weeks of Advent are used to prepare and remember the real meaning of Christmas. German families make an Advent wreath of fir or pine branches that has four colored candles. They light a candle on the wreath each Sunday, sing Christmas songs, and eat Christmas cookies. Sweet bread, cakes filled with candied fruits, and spicy cookies called lebkuchen are baked and consumed.
•    Christmas Traditions in Holland  December 6 is St. Nicholas day in Holland, or the Netherlands. Children wait eagerly for the arrival of Sinterklaas (St.Nicholas). He wears red robes and travels by ship from Spain to Amsterdam's harbor. He brings his white horse and a bag full of gifts for children. The Children leave clogs or shoes out to be filled with presents. Some children leave hay or carrots for Sinterklass’s horse. By doing so they believe that they will get sweets in return.  St. Nicholas Eve is celebrated at home with lots of good food, hot chocolate and a "letter cake" made in the shape of the first letter of the family's last name. Christmas day itself is a much quieter day with church service and a family meal.
•    Christmas Traditions in Italy The most important way of celebrating Christmas in Italy is by creating the Nativity scene. The Christmas season begins on the first Sunday of Advent, which is four Sundays before Christmas. Using a nativity crib to tell the story of Christmas is very popular in Italy. The figure of baby Jesus is put into the crib only on the evening of December 24. Some families set up a Christmas tree and decorate it.
•    Christmas Traditions in Mexico Families shop for gifts, ornaments, and delicious food items in the market stalls. They decorate their homes with lilies and evergreens. Family members cut intricate designs in brown paper bags to make lanterns and place a candle inside. These lanterns or farolitos are then set along sidewalks, on windowsills, and on rooftops to bring in the spirit of Christmas. The weather is warm in Mexico during Christmas time.
•    Christmas Traditions in Spain The Christmas season begins in Spain on December 8.  Feast of the Immaculate Conception is observed weeklong. Outdoor markets and churches are decorated with evergreens. Small musical instruments like miniature guitars are sold to enliven the singing and dancing in the streets. Children go from one house to other singing carols. Most people attend the Midnight Mass or ‘La Misa Del Gallo’(The Mass of the Rooster). A rooster is supposed to have crowed the night that Jesus was born. The traditional Spanish dinner consists of ‘Pavo Trufado de Navidad’ which is Turkey stuffed with truffles (mushrooms, not chocolate)!
•    Christmas Traditions in Sweden In Sweden, the Christmas festivities begin on December 13 with St. Lucia's Day. St. Lucia was a Christian girl who was martyred in 304 AD. She is said to have secretly brought food for the persecuted Christians in Rome who lived in hiding. Lucy means light. She would wear candles on her head so that both her hands would be free to carry things. St. Lucia’s Day is now celebrated with the eldest daughter dressing up as the "Queen of Light" in a long white dress. She wears a crown of leaves. Singing "Santa Lucia," the Lucia Queen goes to every bedroom to serve coffee and treats to family members. The younger children in the family help, too. The whole family helps to select the Christmas tree just a day or two before Christmas.
•     Christmas in America Christmas trees are decorated with ornaments and lights. There is a holiday dinner that includes cranberry sauce, turkey, stuffing, pumpkin pie and green beans. There are religious services. Gifts are exchanged and festive songs are played. Some especially American holiday tunes are Frosty the snowman, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

Sources:
American Christmas Traditions
By: Erin Burnett
Christmas Traditions Around the World
by Sarah Toast
Why Christmas?com