Christmas Around the World

One of the best things about college is that students are engulfed in a variety of different cultures and individuals from around the world. As December rolls in and the Christmas spirit begins to overtake the atmosphere of colleges across the nation, here are some interesting traditions from other parts of the world.

    Starting off on the other side of the world, China has a very limited number of Christian citizens, and since Christmas is a Christian holiday, it’s not celebrated by everyone. Those who do celebrate the holiday call it Sheng Dan Jieh, which means Holy Birth Festival. Instead of Christmas Trees, trees that get decorated are called Trees of Light and are often decorated with paper flowers, lanterns, and paper chains. Santa Claus is also known as Dun Che Lao Ren, which means Christmas Old Man. 

    Migrating South, an Australian Christmas is during their summer vacations. While Australian Christmas traditions are similar to traditions in the United States, but along with lights and Christmas Trees, they also decorate with many “Christmas Bushes” which is a tree native to Australia that has green leaves and small white flowers adorning it. Those flowers will often turn vibrant red in the summertime, generally by the week of Christmas. Also, instead of cookies and milk, Australians will sometimes leave out a cake and a cold beer for Santa. 

    Moving West, we land in Colombia. Their Christmas festivities start on Dec. 7, that day is known as “Día de las Velitas” which means “Day of the little Candles.” On this day, houses and streets are covered with lights including candles, lanterns, and other sources of lights. From Dec. 16 to Christmas Eve, many Columbians participate in ‘novenas,’ which is when friends and family come together to pray. For Christmas time, they are known as ‘Novena de Aguinaldos’ which means Christmas Novena, and during this time, each novena is hosted in a different house every night. Columbians also enjoy decorating their homes for the holidays, many decorating their windows or balconies with candles. On Christmas Eve, many Colombians go to Midnight Mass, some even staying up all night to worship.

    We’re going to end our travels in Finland, where Finnish people believe that Santa Claus lives in Korvatunturi, an area in Northern Finland. People from all over the world, not just Finland, send letters to Korvatunturi addressing them to Santa Claus and hoping that he will respond. In Finland, Santa has two names. His other name is Joulupukki, which means Christmas Goat. On Christmas Eve, it is a tradition for families to visit cemeteries to honor their loved ones who have passed away. 

    Near or far, holiday traditions are beginning to kick off with lots of family, fun, and love. The holidays are not only about celebration but about reuniting with friends and family. So, from me to you, no matter where you are in the world, happy holidays. May they be filled with laughter, kindness, and love.