Christmas is a holiday celebrated on the evening of December 24 and the day of December 25. For Christians, it celebrates the birthday of Jesus Christ. For others, Christmas is about celebrating family, love and joy.
Many adults don't have to work on Christmas, and kids don't have to go to school. The weeks before Christmas are an important time for our economy. Part of the Christmas tradition is giving gifts to friends and family. Many stores sell most of their goods for the year during this period. Along with gift-giving come family and business holiday parties, caroling, holiday decorations and special events.
Traditions Around the World
There are many different Christmas traditions, and they vary all over the world and within families.
In Mexico, people celebrate the Posada the Sunday before Christmas with a piñata full of candy. La Posada begins with a procession at sunset. Children are in front dressed in costumes. After the procession, people share baskets of sweets called colaciones.
In Cuba, Christmas foods include yucca (tapioca), pork, mashed potatoes, rice and fried plantains. Children receive their presents on the 12th day of Christmas, January 6, also known as the day of Reyes Magos (the Magi), who brought presents to Jesus.
In Cuba, Santa brings candy, not toys.
In Australia, Christmas takes place during summer weather because they're in the Southern Hemisphere, where the seasons are opposite from ours in the United States. Australians eat Pavlova -- meringue with tropical fruit. They sometimes eat at noon on the beaches because it is so hot. One tradition is a big candlelight caroling concert in Sydney.
In Iceland, Christmas begins on December 24, at 6 p.m. The Icelanders eat smoked mutton and laufabraud (leaf bread). The laufabraud is flat bread dough that is rolled very thin, sliced like paper snowflakes and then fried.
In Singapore, they start to get ready for Christmas in early November with new furniture, paint for their houses and new clothing. One common food is Curry Devil, which has sausage, ham, roast pork, potatoes, cabbage and carrots and is very spicy. Another popular dish is Feng, which contains pork, lettuce, and pickles and takes a very long time to make.
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Santa Claus, Other Traditions
Santa Claus originally came from a Christian saint called St. Nicholas. In the mid-1800s, the modern idea of Santa with a red suit, beard and reindeer was first born. This coincided with the publication of a popular poem, "A Visit from St. Nick," by Clement Moore. Santa Claus is also known as Kris Kringle.
There are many other traditions associated with Christmas. Christmas trees are a popular tradition -- usually pine or fir trees, but sometime spruce trees. People decorate these trees with ornaments, lights, tinsel, fake snow and sometimes popcorn and cranberry chains. Many people place presents under the tree. Kids hang up stockings to receive small presents, and many attend religious services on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
The twelve days of Christmas start on December 25 and end on January 6, which is when the Christians believe that Christ was baptized or visited by the wise men who brought him gifts. It used to be a tradition that people would open a present each day, but now people just open them all at once.
Christmas is a family holiday that is about being together and being happy. If you don't celebrate Christmas, you can still appreciate those who are close to you. If you do celebrate, invite people to celebrate with you. Christmas is not about spending a lot of money, it is about togetherness and love. Have fun!
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Author: Katie Ransohoff, high school student writer