Season's Greeting Celebrations And Traditions Around The World
Holiday traditions vary from country to country and from religion to religion around the world.
A Christian holiday to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ as the son of God, Christmas is observed with different traditions all around the world. A common denominator in the celebration of Christmas is usually a large meal, a Christmas tree in some cultures, and the gathering of family and friends.
Christmas in Italy is known by the celebration of the meatless meal on Christmas Eve. Though the tradition varies on the number of dishes, the primary focus of the meal is the consumption of fish. This is of special importance because meat was considered an extravagance among many poorer residents of Southern Italy and therefore was reserved for Christmas Day.
The people of Japan have not celebrated Christmas for very long as less than one percent of their population is Christian. However, since the beginning of the 20th century, Christmas has been celebrated in many of the cities and highly populated areas of the country. Christmas in Japan is exhibited by lights and tinsel decorations, much like the western world, and Santa Kurohsu, who is said to have eyes in the back of his head to watch children, brings gifts.
Because it is a former Portuguese colony, Brazil has retained many of the customs from that heritage. Papai Noel is the Brazilian version of Santa Claus who brings gifts to the children. However, Papai Noel wears silk clothes because it is so hot during Christmas in Brazil. A large dinner and the presence of nativity scenes are also common in a Brazilian Christmas.
Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, is the Jewish holiday that commemorates the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem after a war to expel the foreign presence of the Syrians. It is celebrated by the lighting of a menorah for eight nights, which signifies the miracle of the oil which burned the eternal light in the Temple. Hanukkah is also celebrated with the eating of special foods, the giving of gifts, and the gathering of family and friends.
While "Chrismukkah" was actually started as a joke in the early 1990's, this merger between Christmas and Hanukkah has since become recognized as a way to share in rituals of both traditions. This is a three week celebration that includes aspects of both holidays and is especially practical in interfaith households. While Seinfield's "fesitvus" may not have taken off, this custom seems to be growing in acceptance.
Kwanzaa is an African American holiday created in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga. It is celebrated by adorning the house with African decor and the colors of Kwanzaa, which are black, red, and green. Gift giving and a feast are also customs of this holiday.
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