Christmas is a yearly global phenomenon that is celebrated, in one form or another, across the world. Travel writer Luke Owain Boult talks to Cardiff’s international student about how they celebrate the festive season.
Christmas is celebrated throughout the world and has blended in an incredible way with local cultures into something that’s always different, but gives us all common ground. Here are some descriptions of how it’s celebrated around this lovely blue marble of ours.
Christmas in Nigeria involves a lot of celebration and family time. There is less emphasis on presents and more on religion. Most businesses close however the roads will be packed as people rush to start the day with a church service. Services will be extra long as it is seen as a very religious day. Once back at home people often throw parties inviting neighbours and family members to one house as its seen to be important to spend time with loved ones. Family members who live in the cities often travel back to their family home to spend time with loved ones (often taking days to travel). Christmas meal mainly consists of Jollof Rice with beef, goat or chicken. Pounded Yam and Egusi Soup (a soup made of seeds and water) are also served. The day usually ends with more prayer and singing before people return home.
Olusegun Olujide from Lagos, Nigeria
Although Japan isn’t a traditionally Christian country, we do celebrate Christmas. Christmas here is mainly a couples’ holiday, sort of like Valentines Day. While in Western countries it’s a family event where people travel from all across the country to get back home and spend time with their families, in Japan, people like to spend time with their sweethearts, and restaurants are often fully booked for Christmas eve. People eat fried chicken for Christmas, and KFC takes orders in advance. Santa Claus is known as Santa-san here and gives presents to children, much like he does in Europe or America. Malls have Christmas decorations and Christmas sales, like in the UK. We have a more traditional family holiday called O Shogatsu, the Japanese New Year on 1st January, so normally on Christmas we hang out with our boyfriends or girlfriends, or go to parties.
Hiroki Chihaya from Osaka, Japan
Advent is very important in Germany for Christmas. We have advent wreaths called adventskranz at home, and so every Sunday in advent we light a candle, so by the fourth Sunday before Christmas, the advent wreath will have four lights on it. We also have advent calenders too! We celebrate mainly on Christmas eve, when we go to church, sing carols and listen to the nativity story. We’ll then traditionally eat a goose and open presents, while Christmas goes on for the next two days, until the 26th December. We also decorate the Christmas tree. Christmas here is all about family, so it’s very important that the entire family gathers to celebrate Christmas together. The German Christmas has influenced Christmas in Britain with the use of Christmas trees and much more, and it’s a magical time, with many famous markets, which Britain has since imported and fallen in love with.
Isi Von Borke from Hamburg, Germany
It is traditional to go to church on Nochebuena (Christmas Eve), which is called Nit de Nadal for Catalan speakers. The family gets together, has food and celebrates during the night, and there’s a saying that “this night is not for sleeping”. Then, on Christmas day, we meet up with the other part of our family and binge eat again. Seafood is traditional on Christmas day. On New Year’s Eve, as the clock chimes 12, we eat a grape for each pip of the clock, which is called las Campanadas. It depends over the country and with families, in Catalonia, there is a tradition of “el Tio de Nadal” (the Christmas log) which children hit with a log on Christmas and then gives them presents. There’s also the tradition of “el caganer” (the crapper), which is a boy in the Nativity having a poo to show humility.
Marc Avinent from Valencia, Spain
We traditionally have a tree, which is either fir or spruce, and Little Jesus (the Czech version of Santa Claus) leaves presents under it and then rings a bell before he leaves. Many sing carols around it and go to church at midnight on Christmas Eve. Some people fast during Christmas Eve hoping to have a vision of “the Golden Pig” before dinner. Traditionally, a few days before Christmas, we buy a carp and keep it in a tub, before eating it on Christmas eve along with potato salad, and potatoes for those who don’t like it. Some people also eat schnitzel, but carp is more traditional. People have fried carp or carp soup. After the dinner, and Little Jesus has left the presents, we unwrap them and exchange gifts.
Pavel Pyszko from Prague, Czech Republic
Written by Luke Owain Boult