Holidays around the globe

Holidays around the globe

Rochelle Lawrence, Writer

     What is the true meaning of Christmas? I bet if you ask one person from each continent or country, they’ll give you a different response.

     For the majority of Americans, Christmas traditions include decorating a tree, the giving of gifts by “Santa Claus”, and appreciating time with family. In other places around the globe however, Christmas is celebrated completely differently. Take for example, China who’s Christmas celebrations are quite subtle in comparison to America. This holiday is mostly celebrated on the MainLand region, and trees are placed in big cities to accommodate large public gatherings that take place. Santa Claus is known as  ‘Sheng dan lao ren’, which roughly translates to ‘Old Christmas Man’. On Christmas Eve, wrapped apples are the main gift presented to friends and families. This tradition came about as a result of a similar word from a popular Christmas carol ‘Silent Night’;   “Ping’an Ye”, meaning peaceful or quiet evening. This word is translated from the carol, and is similar to the Mandarin word for apple, “píngguǒ”. 

     In the American culture, Jan. 1 marks New Years day. Every year, people make it a tradition to gather with family and friends to countdown to a new year. This is one of the ten federal holidays observed by the United states, so most people get a day off work. In China, New Years day will be celebrated on Feb. 12, 2021. This is part of a 15 day long festival which is signaled by the arrival and departure of the full moon. This is why this holiday is oftentimes referred to as the Lunar New Year. Each year, decorations differ as each year is represented by a different animal chosen by the 12-year cycle of the Chinese zodiac. 2021 will be observed as the Year of the Rat which signifies new beginnings. The most common gifts during this period is the Red Envelope which contains money . It is believed to bring good luck to whoever receives it. 

     Have you ever mailed your wish list to the North Pole in hopes that Father Christmas will get it? If so, then your mail took its stop in Finland. That is where it is said that Santa lives in the northern areas. In his hometown, Santa is known as “Oulupukki” which means Christmas Goat. This name comes from an old tradition of a Yule Goat who would roam about asking people for presents. Overtime, he became the gift giver himself. Some people might dress their pets in Christmas hats and boots, but in Finland the pets are given their own Christmas with presents. Farmers leave nuts and suet in trees for the birds and wild animals to enjoy. Christmas Eve seems to be even more important than Christmas. This is when most of the feasts and parties happen. Also, family members visit cemeteries to visit the graves of lost loved ones.