Sunday, December 18, 2011

December 17-Christmas Around The World

Well, it is creeping up on us...not long now everyone will be gathering for their official celebration of Christmas. Many will have office parties, Christmas Eve get togethers, early Christmas celebrations with friends or family, traveling to be with loved ones-etc. I decided to take a look at the way Christmas is celebrated. As I have talked about in previous posts, the time of year is celebrated many different ways. One thing that is common, Christians(as well as many other beliefs who take part in the tradition of this season) will be celebrating Christmas. Around the world Christmas is celebrated in many ways, becuase of this, I have picked out a couple of cultures that mean something to me. I am descended from Irish, Dutch, German, Native American(Cherokee & Choctaw), Polish, and Czech. My strongest(nearest) heritage is Irish, Native American, and Polish(also Czech, but that depends on who you ask :)  ). I, therefore, am focusing on my nearest heritage.

Poland began their Christmas celebration, truly, on December 6th with the St. Nicholas saint feast day. Special tasks that take place in Poland are baking Christmas piemik(gingerbread) and making decorations. Piemik are made in shapes that include hearts, animals, and St. Nicholas figures. Traditional decorations include handmade stars, decorated egg shelss, and colorful paper garland. Christmas trees, place in family rooms, are decorated and lit on Christmas Eve. Sometimes the trees are left standing until February 2. Christmas in Poland is celebrated until January 6. A tradition unique to Poland is
the sharing of optatek(a thin wafer with a holy image pressed into it). In the old days, someone would walk from house to house with the wafers and wishing everyone a Merry Christmas. Now days family and nearby neighbors share the wafers and are supposed to forgive one another for any hurts they caused during the year, as well as wish them happiness for the coming year. Christmas Eve is celebrated with a feast of some type of fish, the supper is known as Wiligia. Wiligia begins at first star on Christmas Eve and can last up to 2 hours. The feast is followed by the exchange of gifts. Christmas Eve ends with the attendance of midnight Mass at church. Christmas day is spent visiting friends. The Christmas season in Poland often goes until February 2.

Ireland began their Christmas celebration around the first of December. The greeting said in Ireland is Nollaig Shona Duit which means Happy Christmas to you. Christmas day and Christmas Eve both have a Mass that the religious attend. Christmas Eve Mass in Ireland is also midnight Mass. Christmas is also a time for remembering the dead in Ireland. Prayers are said for the dead during Mass, and wreaths of holly and ivy are place on the graves. Most homes are decorated with the crib as well as a Christmas tree. Some people light candles for Mary and Joseph. It is said that the candle signifies hospitality, there may not have been a place in Bethlehem for Jesus' parents, but there is place for them here. Santa Clause, known as Daidi na Nollaig in Gaelic(which means Daddy of Christmas), is often called Santy or Santa. Children used to leave mince pie, and a bottle or glass of Guiness for Santa and a carrot for Rudolph. Amercanization caused the tradition to shift and children now leave cookies and milk along with the carrot. Little Christmas is a celebration on January 6, and this is when the Irish take down their Christmas decorations.

In the Native American culture, Christmas was non-exsistant until the people came over from Europe. It is customary for young children to be taught to respect the beliefs of the Christains and their celebrations of Christmas. However, it is not common for Native Americans to take part in the Christmas celebrations. Native Americans, technically, celebrate Christmas every day, since they give thanks for everything daily and celebrate what they have been given daily.

I will be touching on Americans way of celebrating Christmas in other topics. Thanks for reading, as with my other topics, feel free to comment if I need to correct any information....

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