We all celebrate Christmas differently, but in the end it is all about love and happiness. NiceDay has a lot of nationalities, all with their own story and we would like to share our stories with you!
ByoungYong (South Korea)
To children it is one of the few days you get free toys, to couples it is the most romantic day of the year and to singles it is the most lonely day of the year. To christians, who make up for 27 percent of the population in South Korea, it must be the most special day of the year: but I am not Christian, so I do not know much about it. The movie ‘Home Alone’ is one of the most broadcasted movies on Christmas. However, people have a mixed feeling about it: some people think it is boring, others think it completes Christmas.
Although Japan is a non-christian nation, people celebrate Christmas. The main focus is on Christmas Eve. There are lots of illuminations all around the country starting from the beginning of December. People set up Christmas trees and children expect Santa Claus on Christmas Eve. Christmas Eve is a romantic evening for some reason. It is treated like Valentine’s day (they also celebrate Valentine’s day). When you are a child it is a fun day where you expect presents. Once you grow up, it is a day on which you want to have a romantic relationship, which makes people a little more desperate in December compared to other months of the year.
In Catalonia we celebrate Christmas during December 24th, 25th, and 26th. Each family tries to gather together at least once during these days to enjoy and share the celebration while having really amazing meals. If they are Catholic, they go to church on 24th night and 25th noon to celebrate the birth of Jesus. For the kids, the main attraction these days is the Tió, a piece of wood covered with a blanket which is normally placed in the living room. The Tió will eventually give them the presents, but they have to properly feed him with fruits and cookies during the weeks before Christmas. When the moment arrives, they have to hit him with a stick following the rhythm of a magical song in order to help him “shit” all their presents. If they have been good during the year, they will get alot of them. In case they were not, they will only get a piece of coal.
Hoye (Hong Kong)
Christmas is big in Hong Kong. The malls, skyscrapers and streets are decorated with Christmas decorations. Besides Christmas, there is another event called ‘Winterfest’. During the Winterfest, which is in December, there are several events scattered across Hong Kong, like light shows, Christmas markets, enormous Christmas trees and of course fireworks for the new year.
China has a Chinese expression saying “Merry Christmas” (pinyin: shengdan jie kuai le), but if they really celebrate it? In 2012 I spent a year in China studying Chinese and unfortunately I could not go home during Christmas: I spent that time in China. Alone, in a dorm of 12 squared meters. The beginning of this story already spoils the answer to the question, because if they truly did celebrate Christmas, I would have spent it with my family. As December grew closer, the stores were getting decorated with all the typical Christmas decorations: Santa Clauses, Christmas trees, Christmas balls, red decorations (red is a lucky colour in China!) and so on. Sales were starting and everywhere you looked the Christmas spirit had arrived. We even had some snow!
But, they do not really celebrate Christmas. They do not spend time with their families, have a huge feast, go to a Christmas mass, remember Jesus or sit on the couch with a nice hot chocolate. Christmas is for them what Valentine’s day or Black Friday is for Western countries a commercialised holiday aimed at increasing sales while kind of forgetting the origin of the festivities. To add insult to injury, not only did I not have holidays and had to attend colleges, I even had my last exams planned on Christmas!
Christmas in Russia is considered a Christian event and most people do not do anything special. It is celebrated on January 7th, which is December 25th according to the Julian calendar. This day is also part of the long New Year’s break, which is from the 30th of December to the January 8th.
Christmas was forbidden during the Soviet era, so it was illegal to celebrate between the year of 1929 and 1991. Instead, New Years’ Eve was the most important festive day of the year. During the night of December 31st families come together with champagne, salmon caviar with butter and white bread, Russian salad and mandarins. Some people go outside after midnight to set off some fireworks and continue drinking. But a lot of people stay home to watch New Year’s TV shows.
In Colombia, the celebration of Christmas follows most of the Catholic church traditions. It is a period where family get together, celebrate and eat a lot. Most of the houses and public places are decorated with trees, ornaments, lights and nativity scenes. The season starts on the 7th of December with the Candle’s day in which people decorate their front yards with candles, lanterns and where multiple firework displays take place.
Starting from December 16th, many people take part in the ‘novenas’, a tradition where family and friends gather in front of the nativity scenes to pray, sing carols and eat delicious food in the days leading up to Christmas. This cycle is repeated for 9 days and finishes with Christmas eve, a night when families have a special dinner together and kids expect the arrival of ‘Papa Noel’ with their presents. On the 28th December people celebrate the ‘Innocents Day’, which is quite similar to April Fools Day.
Some of the most popular dishes during this festive season are:
- Buñuelos: deep fried balls similar to Oliebollen but made with a corn flour and cheese dough.
- Natilla: a sweet dessert that resembles a flan or pudding.
- Tamales: a dish made of corn or wheat dough filled with vegetables and meat which is steamed in a corn husk or banana leaf.
- Roasted turkey or pork shoulder (specially on Christmas eve).
Wherever you are and however you celebrate: NiceDay wishes you a fantastic Christmas!
How do you celebrate Christmas?