A Christmas Trip Around the World
A Christmas Trip Around the World
Around the world, in accordance with geography, religion and other conventions; Christmas is celebrated in various ways. Technology has not only brought us closer to previously ancient traditions, it has also changed the way in which we celebrate and enjoy these times. Although many traditions have now been digitized, their origin has remained the same and, above all, continues to have children as their main protagonists. Many children have now been waiting for months for a visit from Santa Claus or ‘Papá Noel’ and from the ‘Child Jesus’, Jesus or ‘Baby Jesus’… or from other characters who are part of the traditions of other countries.
For example, for the Belgians ‘Saint Nicholas’ is a kind hearted saint who arrives on a ship from Spain. For the Finns, Santa Claus is very close to home, as he lives in his workshop, which is located in the Finnish region of ‘Lapland’. Christmas can be white and embroidered in snowflakes, or tropical and bright like in the Caribbean. This is a time of year as diverse as the different countries in the world; and traveling is the best way to discover and explore how it is celebrated beyond our borders.
In the case of Spain, the celebration revolves around the dining table; which in each region has different dishes and specialties as the shining stars of the Christmas Eve dinner. The carols, accompanied by the characteristic sound of the ‘zambomba’, liven up the most central streets of the cities and resist the passage of time; moving from street choirs and churches to Spotify lists and WhatsApp messages.
The most notable date is the arrival of the ‘Three Wise Men’, on the eve of January 6th, when the streets are then filled with children who are waiting to receive them at the majestic horse-riding parade. The next morning, presents (or rather charcoal for the naughtiest children) are exchanged and the ‘roscón de reyes’ is enjoyed by whole families; a sweet pastry filled with cream and fruit.
Some Spanish communities preserve unique traditions, which are centered around characters linked to their local cultures. For example, in the autonomous community of the Basque Country, the “Olentzero”, a coalman who lives in the mountains, is in charge of entertaining the children. Whilst in Galicia, the bearded “Apalpador”, ensures that the little ones are well fed by leaving chestnuts and gifts for them on Christmas morning. In Catalonia, a magic wooden trunk, the ‘Tió’, comes alive in December; the children must take care of it, feed it, tuck it in and sing songs to him until December 26th, when ‘Tió’ overflows with presents in exchange for their generous caregiving.
In Latin America, Christmas is connected to Spanish, Portuguese and Italian traditions. There exists a perfect combination of local folklore with the particular flavors and colors that each country of the region has to offer. Mexico treasures some of the most picturesque Christmas in Latin America, with its soulful ‘Posadas’; a family and religious festival that begins nine days before Christmas Eve and recalls the journey of Mary and Joseph seeking refuge before the arrival of the ‘Child Jesus’. The locals’ houses wait for friends and relatives with open doors to break ‘piñatas’ loaded with fruit and Christmas sweets and toys, to the rhythm of carols and regional Mexican music.
Although in the Judeo-Christian traditions Christmas is a family-oriented event, in other countries it is not so much. For example, in Japan, December 24th is a day of celebration for couples as it is officially the day of ‘lovers’ in the country. The Japanese children receive gifts for the New Year and celebrate it with a banquet. This way the Japanese people ensure their good fortune and luck for the year that is about to begin. In Australia, at the end of December, the temperatures are ideal for enjoying the summery outdoors with a trip to the beach or pool. In fact, every Christmas day on December 25th, over 40,000 people gather at the famous Bondi Beach in Sydney, to enjoy a fireworks night show.
From North to South, and from East to West, Christmas has incredibly conquered the world, and each country has translated it and made it its own. Perhaps, the best gift to celebrate, is to embark on a journey to discover unforgettable places and unique customs. Do you already know what your next destination is?
By María José Morr
PR & Communications Team