It is December 24, Christmas Eve. Throughout the planet, some 2.200 million people are preparing to celebrate the birth of Christ, a date that extols the spirit of peace and harmony that the party itself brings. Each country does it in its own way but the family gathering around a good table, music and typical decorations with winter or Christmas motifs are the common elements. Now, how is Christmas lived in other countries?
Each region of the country has its own traditions but, in general, Christmas Eve is celebrated with the cenone, a dinner made with fish although you cannot miss the pasta with seafood, with tuna or with clams. The next day the family gathers to open the gifts brought by Babbo Natala (the Italian Santa Claus) and to taste a plate of arrosto (roast beef on baked potatoes) or pasta. As a dessert, Pannetone and varieties such as Pandoro are well known. However, there are other sweets made with chocolate, honey or nuts.
The nativity scene and the Christmas tree continue to decorate the Italian houses until January 6, when the Befana arrives at all the houses to distribute gifts to the kindest ones on the back of a broom and entering through the chimney. With her, Christmas says goodbye in Italy.
Christmas in Australia is lived in the height of summer, with temperatures around 30 degrees. So you live outdoors, in the sun and on the beach. In fact, Santa Claus sometimes travels on a surfboard to deliver his gifts at home.
The traditional dish Australians celebrate Christmas with is roast beef or turkey served with vegetables, blackberry pie and pudding. As a special dessert for these dates they take Pavlova, a meringue sweet covered with fruit and whipped cream that received this name in honor of a famous dancer who made a tour of Oceania during the 20s that she liked very much.
The African country received Christianity around the year 370 of our era and Christmas is celebrated on January 7 of the Gregorian calendar under the name of Ganna.
Unlike other places, the custom of exchanging gifts is not widespread, but families do gather in churches to celebrate it and greet their neighbors with the phrase Melkam Gena! (Merry Christmas!). Afterwards, they share a meal called injera, which is similar to a crepe and served with a chicken stew.
Before Christmas Eve, specifically on December 23, Icelandic families gather to eat skata, a fish accompanied by potatoes. On Christmas Eve it is customary to go to cemeteries to visit the deceased and decorate their graves with lights and flowers. Later, when night falls, the family gathers for dinner with smoked meat and potatoes.
Regarding the tradition of handing out gifts, in Iceland it is celebrated that the thirteen elderly children of Grykla and Leppaludi come down from the mountains between December 12 and 24 to leave gifts for the children under the tree each year. But if they have been very naughty, they may find a potato in their shoes.
In this European country, Saint Nicholas (Santa Claus) anticipates his visit to the children to find out if they were good and to leave them gifts and candies. That is why the gifts are opened on December 6. By the 25th, it is customary to go skating after a copious meal in the company of relatives or friends.
What is this traditional banquet made of? It consists of a three-course meal based on game, roast or seafood. The typical dessert is the Christmas log, a cake covered in chocolate and decorated to resemble a wooden log.
One of the few Catholic countries in Asia, as it was a Spanish colony for centuries. In the Philippines Christmas is celebrated with great enthusiasm and with very interesting traditions. To begin with, the Christmas period begins in September and ends at the end of January.
During Christmas Eve, the search for accommodation of the parents of Jesus in Bethlehem is recreated, which is known as panunuluyan. This tradition ends when the couple arrives at the church before the Strenna Mass begins. In this mass the birth of Jesus is celebrated. At the end, a dinner is organized in which families share a traditional Filipino meal consisting of ham, chicken, cheese, fruit, and hot chocolate.
On a decorative level, Filipinos decorate their homes with a torch in the windows called a parol that symbolizes the shooting star that guided the Magi to Bethlehem.