Christmas

Christmas is an annual festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, observed most commonly on December 24/25 as a religious and cultural celebration among billions of people around the world. It is a feast central to the Christian liturgical year, and is prepared for by the season of Advent or the Nativity Fast, and it initiates the season of Christmastide, which historically in the West lasts twelve days and culminates on Twelfth Night; in some traditions, Christmastide includes an Octave. Christmas Day is a public holiday in many of the world's nations, is celebrated culturally by a large number of non-Christian people, and is an integral part of the holiday season.

The celebratory customs associated in various countries with Christmas have a mix of pre-Christian, Christian, and secular themes and origins. Popular modern customs of the holiday include gift giving, completing an Advent calendar or Advent wreath, Christmas music and caroling, lighting a Christingle, an exchange of Christmas cards, church services, a special meal, and the display of various Christmas decorations, including Christmas trees, Christmas lights, nativity scenes, garlands, wreaths, mistletoe, and holly. In addition, several closely related and often interchangeable figures, known as Santa Claus, Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas, and Christkind, are associated with bringing gifts to children during the Christmas season and have their own body of traditions and lore.


Posts for Christmas

What kind of snack do you leave for Father Christmas/Santa?

Christmas in Washington, D.C., USA
Anonymous
Christmas in Washington, D.C., USA We leave him milk and cookies

Rockefeller Center at Christmas

Christmas in NYC, NY, USA
Anonymous
Christmas in NYC, NY, USA One of the enduring images of Christmas in the USA, is the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. For over seven decades, the Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center and the holiday decorations adorning and surrounding have stood as a holiday beacon for New Yorkers and visitors alike. From the beginning, the Tree was a gathering place and reflection of what was happening in the world around it. Even before the first formal tree went up, workers lined up beneath a Christmas tree on the Rockefeller Plaza construction site to collect their paychecks during the height of the Great Depression. People from around the world came after September 11th to see the Tree decorated in a patriotic red, white and blue. Today, more than half a million people pass by the Tree every day, making Rockefeller Center the epicenter of New York City’s holiday celebrations.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Christmas in NYC, NY, USA
Anonymous
"Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer" is one of the most popular Christmas songs. It was written by Johnny Marks based on the 1939 story Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer published by the Montgomery Ward Company. Its popularity exploded after Gene Autry's recording topped the US charts during Christmas 1949.

Miracle on 34th Street

Christmas in NYC, NY, USA
Anonymous

Miracle on 34th Street is a 1947 Christmas comedy-drama film written and directed by George Seaton and based on a story by Valentine Davies. It stars Maureen O'Hara, John Payne, Natalie Wood and Edmund Gwenn. The story takes place between Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day in New York City, and focuses on the impact of a department store Santa Claus who claims to be the real Santa. The film has become a perennial Christmas favorite.

The film won Academy Awards for Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Edmund Gwenn), Best Writing, Original Story (Valentine Davies) and Best Writing, Screenplay. It was also nominated for Best Picture, losing to Gentleman's Agreement. In 2005, the film was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant".

The story of Santa Claus

Christmas in New York, NY, USA
Anonymous
Christmas in New York, NY, USA

Santa Claus is an amalgamation of different characters from various cultures renowned for their generosity. He can be traced to Saint Nicholas, a Greek-Byzantine Christian Bishop who lived in modern day Turkey. Saint Nicholas was known for his generosity: he paid the dowries of three poor girls so they could marry. The reformer Martin Luther adapted Saint Nicholas gift-giving customs but changed the gift-giver in German speaking countries. As a result in Germany, Austria and German-speaking parts of Switzerland, the gift-giver is known as Christkind (Christ child) and not Saint Nicholas. However, in other countries Saint Nicholas remained popular.

Santa has also been influenced by Nordic mythology, especially in terms appearance, outfit and companion reindeers. In Nordic mythology, Odin would go on a Wild Hunt during Yule on the winter solstice, which coincides with Christmas. Odin had a long, white beard and would ride through the sky on his magical horse. He would also enter through chimneys and fire holes on the solstice.

A combined character called Sinterklaas, who was generous like Saint Nicholas and had the appearance of Odin, was popular among the Dutch. Dutch colonists brought Sinterklaas with them to New Amsterdam, which we now know as New York, and influenced the development of Santa in the USA. Later Sinterklaas/Odin's horse became a team of reindeers.

Letters to H0H 0H0

Christmas in Toronto, Canada
Anonymous
Christmas in Toronto, Canada My son really liked my story about Christmas and Santa. He wants to visit Santa at the North Pole, in Canada. I managed to convince that Santa is really busy at this time of year and he should not interrupt Santa from his work. Instead he can send a letter like thousands of other Canadian children to Santa at the North Pole, with postal code H0H 0H0.

Do you know about Santa's Workshop?

Christmas in Wilmington, NY, USA
Anonymous
Christmas in Wilmington, NY, USA

Santa's Workshop in North Pole, a hamlet in Wilmington, New York, USA, is an amusement park that has been in operation since 1949. It was one of the first theme parks in the United States. It is open from June to December.

The idea for the village originated in a story that Lake Placid businessman Julian Reiss told his daughter about a baby bear who visits Santa Claus at the North Pole. The design of the park was done by artist Arto Monaco, of Upper Jay, and built by Harold Fortune, of Lake Placid, who also owned the site, and helped promote the park. The park drew immediate media interest, with more than 14,000 visitors on one day in September 1951.

Réveillon in Quebec

Christmas in Montreal, Canada
Anonymous
Christmas in Montreal, Canada In Quebec, people mostly observe French Christmas traditions such as réveillon, Père Noël (Father Christmas), and the bûche de Noël (Yule log), etc. The traditional dish for the réveillon is tourtière, a savoury meat pie. Gifts are opened during réveillon, often following Midnight Mass.

A Charlie Brown Christmas

Christmas in St. Paul, MN, United States
Anonymous
A Charlie Brown Christmas is one of the most popular Christmas programs in the USA. The animation was created in 1965 based on the comic strip Peanuts, by Charles M. Schulz. Produced by Lee Mendelson and directed by Bill Melendez, the program made its debut on CBS on December 9, 1965. In the special, lead character Charlie Brown finds himself depressed despite the onset of the cheerful holiday season. Lucy suggests he direct a school Christmas play, but he is both ignored and mocked by his peers. The story touches on the over-commercialization and secularism of Christmas, and serves to remind viewers of the true meaning of Christmas.

Junkanoo

Christmas in Nassau, Bahamas
Anonymous
Christmas in Nassau, Bahamas

In the Bahamas, Junkanoo festivals are held from Christmas Day morning until sunrise on December 27 after Boxing Day and held again on New Year's Day. It is a carnival featuring parading bands in colorful costumes, singing, dancing, and decorations. The Junkanoo parade has featured in movies including the James Bond film Thunderball, After the Sunset and Jaws The Revenge.

Bahamian Christmas foods include black cake, imported apples, pepper pot, pickled onions and ham. Drinks like ginger-beer, sorrel, mauby, and sweet potato fly are served on Christmas.

Christmas was temporarily banned in Cuba!

Christmas in Havana, Cuba
Anonymous
Cuba had a long tradition of celebrating Christmas. Families used to gather at the dining table, and used to go to mass after dinner. The Communist Regime led by Dictator Fidel Castro abolished the paid Christmas holiday in 1969, citing that workers were needed to continue the sugar harvest. In 1998, the Regime declared December 25 a leisure day, as requested by Pope John Paul II as a condition to visit the country. It is a one-day public holiday and it is celebrated only in the evening.

The legend of the poinsettia

Christmas in Merida, Mexico
Anonymous
Christmas in Merida, Mexico

Poinsettias are indigenous to Central America, especially southern Mexico, where they flower during the winter. So how are poinsettias associated with Christmas? One legend says:

Once upon a time there was a poor Mexican girl called Pepita, who was so poor that she had no present to give the baby Jesus at the Christmas Eve mass. She was extremely sad. On her way to the chapel, she told her cousin Pedro that she did not have present for baby Jesus. He comforted her: "Pepita, don’t worry, I'm sure that you love Jesus, so even the smallest gift you give him will make him happy."

Pepita didn't know what she could give, so she picked a small handful of weeds from the roadside and made them into a small bouquet. As she walked through the chapel to the altar, she remembered what Pedro had said. She began to feel better, she sincerely knelt down, placed the bouquet at the bottom of the nativity scene. Suddenly, the bouquet of weeds burst into bright red flowers, and everyone who saw the scene were surprised and were sure that a miracle happened. From that day on, the bright red flowers were known as the Flores de Nochebuena or 'Flowers of the Holy Night'.

Las Posadas

Christmas in Monterey, Mexico
Anonymous
Christmas in Monterey, Mexico The Las Posadas procession and parties is a popular Christmas tradition, especially with children. The custom was started by Christian missionaries to teach the indigenous people the Christmas story. The first part of Las Posadas is a procession, where a boy and girl play the parts of Joseph and Mary. They and other members of the procession carry candles and an empty manger in preparation for the birth of baby Jesus. The procession ends at a pre-selected house, where the group divides in two. One half remains outside the house and sings requesting entry. The other half replies in song from inside the house. In the second part of Las Posadas, children break a star-shaped piñata. The piñata was also co-opted historically by missionaries to explain Christian ideas to the locals. It is supposed to be shiny and symbolize all the goods that people covet. In addition, the star has seven points representing the seven deadly sins. Breaking the piñata embodies the defeat of evil and the release of the treasure for all.

Mexican April Fools' Day

Christmas in Puebla, Mexico
Anonymous
December 28 is Mexico’s version of April Fools' Day. It was originally called Los Santos Innocentes (The Sainted Innocents) to commemorate the boys indiscriminately killed by King Herod in his attempt to kill baby Jesus. In the 19th century, elaborate ruses would be concocted to get the gullible to lend things on this day. If successful, the victorious prankster would send a note to the lender and a gift of sweets or small toys in memory of the children killed by Herod with the note saying "Innocent little dove who allowed yourself to be deceived, knowing that on this day, nothing should be lent." This then developed into a day of pranks in general. This even includes newspapers printing false wild stories on that day. This is also celebrated online as well in recent years.

The origin of the poinsettia

Christmas in Mexico City, Mexico
Anonymous
Christmas in Mexico City, Mexico

Mexico is the origin of the poinsettia, also called locally noche buena, which means "good night" referring Christmas Eve. In the pre-Hispanic period, they were called cuetlaxochitl, where they were a symbol of the new life; it was believed that fallen warriors would return to earth as hummingbirds and butterflies and drink its nectar.People believe that the shape of the poinsettia flower and leaves are symbols of the Star of Bethlehem, which led the Wise Men to Jesus. The red colored leaves represent the blood of Christ, while the white ones demonstrate his purity.

The name for this plant is also used to refer to a dark bock-style beer which is only available during the Christmas season.

Christmas in Guatemala

Christmas in Guatemala City, Guatemala
Anonymous
Christmas in Guatemala City, Guatemala On Christmas in Guatemala, people dress up in an ornamental hat, called Puritina, and dance in a line. As with much of the country's culture, the celebration includes Spanish and Maya elements.

NORAD Tracks Santa

Christmas in North America
Anonymous

On December 24, 1948, the United States Air Force issued a communique claiming that an "early warning radar net to the north" had detected "one unidentified sleigh, powered by eight reindeer, at 14,000 feet, heading 180 degrees." The Associated Press released this 'report' to the general public. It was the first time that the United States Armed Forces issued a statement about tracking Santa Claus's sleigh on Christmas Eve, although it was a one-time event, not repeated over the next several years.

NORAD Tracks Santa has since become an annual Christmas-themed entertainment program, produced under the auspices of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). Every year on Christmas Eve, NORAD Tracks Santa purports to track Santa Claus as he leaves the North Pole and delivers presents to children around the world.

Mormon Tabernacle Choir

Christmas in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
Anonymous
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir, one of the most celebrated choirs in the US, holds an annual Christmas concert in Salt Lake City. Typically, the concert consists of four shows: a Thursday dress rehearsal, Friday and Saturday shows and a Sunday abbreviated concert after the morning Music and the Spoken Word program. Tickets to the concert are free, and were formerly distributed through a random internet drawing.

Christmas Lights Across Canada

Christmas in Canada
Anonymous
As Canada is a cold, dark country in winter, lights are often put up in public places and on commercial and residential buildings in November and December. Many communities have celebrations that include light events, such as the Cavalcade of Lights Festival in Toronto, the Montreal Christmas Fireworks, or the Bright Nights in Stanley Park, Vancouver. A national program, Christmas Lights Across Canada, illuminates Ottawa, the national capital, and the 13 provincial and territorial capitals.

Venezuela's national dish for Christmas

Christmas in Maracaibo, Venezuela
Anonymous
A typical Venezuelan Christmas food is the hallaca, which is a corn dough stuffed with a mix of beef, pork, chicken or seafood, along with raisins and olives. This dough is then wrapped in plantain leaves. It is considered Venezuela's national dish.