By Ryan Oswald, Staff Reporter, The Pawprint
With the holidays coming up faster than we can blink, the question that was on my mind is how different nationalities celebrate the infamous holiday. For some, it’s a religious reason, for others it’s just a reason to receive gifts or spend time with distant family.
Given the experience of living somewhere different in the world after living in the US for my whole life, I wanted to interview some individuals on how they celebrate Christmas, and see if it’s wildly different or surprisingly similar to my familiar traditions.
I decided to interview some of my close friends to see how they and their families celebrate the holiday.
Yasmine Madani and Alexander Smith are Swedish, and share commonalities within their celebrations. They eat traditional Swedish food like prinskorv och skinka, which is ham. They celebrate with family members with Christmas trees and stockings, but watch episodes of Swedish Donald Duck and have the classic big dinner.
Yasmine explains, “In Swedish, ‘God Jul’ means ‘Merry Christmas,’ and no Swedish ‘julbord’ (Christmas buffet) is complete without Christmas ham (‘jul’+’skinka’ = ‘julskinka’). In Sweden, ham is salt-cured and unsmoked, sometimes known as ‘fresh’ ham. It’s commonly served cold on the Christmas buffet, but it’s also wonderful served warm.”
Valentina Stefanini is Italian, and shows endless passion for how she celebrates. She explains that people go to church at midnight, centered around the high levels of christianity within the country. Coming from Bologna, a northern city of Italy, she says that she and her family eat tortellini, but also might eat colomba and castagne if they’re still hungry. She explains that other regions of Italy, such as the south, eat 7 different types of fish.
After conducting some more interviews, I found that a lot of individuals celebrate the same way as others; your usual decorated tree, presents, sweets, a big dinner, etc. I wanted to look more into what some countries and cultures do to celebrate the holiday as well.
In India, instead of decorating an evergreen tree, people chose to decorate a mango tree. In Ukraine, trees are decorated with spider webs because of an urban legend that on one Christmas a spider visited a poor family and turned all the spider webs to gold.
In Caracas, Venezuela, civilians head to the church on Christmas Eve, and rollerblade. This activity is so popular that even streets and shops close down. The Philippines celebrate by having a substantially large lantern festival, with lanterns made from Japanese origami paper and large candles. The lanterns can be as big as 20 feet (6 meters).
Christmas has many different origins and ways to celebrate and there’s still so much to learn about each culture and country.