It starts in the early afternoon with cookie baking, which last for hours as we roll out dough, cut out shapes, wait for them to bake and cool, and then decorate them with multicolored frosting and sprinkles. During the whole cookie process, we listen to Christmas songs and sing them terribly off key, making up our own words when we don't remember them. Occasionally, we throw in a random dance move or two to liven up the party, haha. After cookeis, we order our traditional Christmas Eve pizza, which we devour too quickly, because, even though we are all adults now, we still wait to open presents like 5 year old children. Presents are opend and happiness is spread. Happy tears fall when we think about how blessed we are as a family. It's a very nice night.
All of this celebrating and fun got me thinking about how Christmas is celebrated in other places. How do my sponsored children celebrate Christmas? What are so of the traditions in their country? I decided to look it up!
In Bolivia, Christmas is deeply religious. A few weeks before Christmas, each family sets up a large nativity scene, either inside or outside the home. Some families are adapting the tradition or decorating their homes or Christmas trees with lights and other colorful decorations. Around midnight on Christmas Eve, large bells ring at churches and call everyone to mass. Mass lasts into the wee hours of Christmas morning. After mass, a large meal is eaten, as everyone is hungry after such a long mass. After the meal, gifts are often exchanged.
In Honduras, Christmas is the most important celebration of the year! Christmas is celebrated at exactly the stroke of midnight, as soon as it is Christmas. A few minutes before midnight, the family gathers around to read the bible passages that tell about Christ's birth. After reading, the family prays together. When the clock strikes midnight, family members exchange big hugs and "Feliz Navidad!" with each. After that, a very large meal is served. This meal often takes several days to prepare. After the meal, Christmas gifts are exchanged.
In India, Christmas is a relatively small celebration, as the large majority of people are not Christians. The celebration of Christmas mostly revolves around midnight mass. Families walk to the church service together. The service lasts for several hours. Churches are deocrated with candles, poinsettias, and a nativity scene. After church, famlies enjoy a large feast, consisting of different types of curry. After the meal, a small gift exchange occurs between family members.
Christmas in Indonesia is not considered a religious holiday, but a public holidays, as most people in the country are not Christians. Christmas in this country puts an emphasis on shopping and buying extravagant gifts for family members and friends. Christmas carols are sung and Santa brings gifts to children. Christmas parties are a big part of the celebration and fireworks are often set off to make the celebration big and loud.
Christmas is a very important celebration in Rwanda! All business and schools are closed so families and can have large celebrations together. For Rwandans, Christmas is considered the time to eat meat, so famlies that can afford it, buy enough meat to feed their family well. Famlies attend a church service where hymns are sung loudly and happily! Homes are not decorated with lights or Christmas trees, as those things are seen as wasteful and expensive. However, small gifts are exchanged between family members and friends.
People in Uganda prepare for Christmas by cleaning their homes well and deocrating them with colorful ribbons and strings and stars cut out of paper and other materials. Christmas trees are becoming more popular in Uganda and are decorated with lights, if the people have electricity, or with stars and other materials that are found throughout the home. On Christmas morning, small gifts are exchanged and then famlies attend church together, where candles are light and hymns are sung. After church, families share a big meal together and pray.
Christmas, for Christians, in Sierra Leone, is considered the most sacred day of the year. Families celebrate by first decorating their homes with what they can. On Christmas Day, families get together to sing, dance, chant, pray, and attend church services together, more more singing, dancing, and praying occurs, as well as readings from the bible. After church, a large meal is shared amongst friends and family. Usually, gifts are not exchanged.
Christmas in Albania is celebrated much the same as in other Western cultures. Christmas is celebrated by both Christians and people of other religions, as a secular holdiay. Christmas trees are doecrated and Christmas gifts are given. For Christians, midnight mass is popular and then families also attend church on Christmas morning. Large meals are shared and gifts are exchanged. Christmas is all about being together with family in Albania.