How Christmas is celebrated around the world

China

In China, only about one percent of people are Christians, so most people only know a few things about Christmas. Because of this, Christmas is only often celebrated in major cities. In these big cities there are christmas lights lights and other decorations on the streets and in department stores. Santa Claus is called ‘Shen Dan Lao Ren’ and has grottos in shops like in Europe and America.

 A tradition that’s becoming popular, on Christmas Eve, is giving apples. Many stores have apples wrapped up in colored paper for sale. People give apples on Christmas Eve because in Chinese Christmas Eve is called “Ping’an Ye” (平安夜), meaning peaceful or quiet evening, which has been translated from the carol silent night. The word for apple in Mandarin is “píngguǒ” (苹果) which sounds like the word for peace.
Iceland

Celebrations start at Iceland at 6.00pm on Yule Eve. This may have come from old Icelandic tradition, when a new day started at 6.00pm not midnight. Icelandic children open their presents after the evening meal on Aðfangadagur. This is when the Yule celebrations really start! (TV used to stop at about 5.00pm and restarted at 10.00pm! But now TV is on all through the Christmas period.)

Jóladagur – Christmas Day / Yule Day
Jóladagur is usually celebrated with the extended family. The main Yule meal is ‘Hangikjöt’, a leg of roast lamb. Sometimes ‘Rjúpa’ (Rock Ptarmigan a sea bird) is also eaten. Another Yule meal speciality is ‘Laufabrauð’ or leaf bread. This is made of thin sheets of dough cut into delicate patterns and fried. Each family often has their own patterns for the Laufabrauð.

Annar Jóladagur – Boxing Day
This is another day for visiting friends and family and eating lots more! Public entertainment is considered inappropriate on Yule Eve and Yule Day, and it is on Boxing Day that dancing is again allowed in public!

Haiti

In Haiti, at the beginning of December, people start looking for Christmas trees They might cut pine branches or go to the market and get trees brought from the mountains. The trees are decorated with bright ornaments. At the bottom of the tree is a large nativity. Sometimes the trees and scenes take up a lot of the living room! Churches and other organisations also have trees on display. Artificial tress are also more common as they last longer!

People also fix and redecorate their homes ready for Christmas.

In Haiti Happy/Merry Christmas in Creole/Hatian is ‘Jwaye Nowe’. French is also commonly spoken in Haiti where it is ‘Joyeux Noël’.

On Christmas eve, children place their newly cleaned shoes, filled with straw under the tree on the porch. They hope that Santa (called ‘Tonton Nwèl’) will remove the straw and put presents in and around the shoes!

Often, lots of houses in neighborhoods are open with all lights on until about 3.00am! Children are normally allowed to go out and often the parents don’t know were they are in the early morning – the older children are expected to look after the younger ones! And children of all ages are also allowed to drink ‘Anisette’, which is a slightly alcoholic drink that’s made by soaking ‘anise’ leaves (the spice where star anise comes from) in rum and sweetening it with sugar.