Christmas Traditions Around The World and How They’re Celebrated
Where It All Began
In a time long before singing Christmas carols and drinking egg nog, before Santa existed, and ordering toys online was something out of a science fiction novel, how did people celebrate Christmas?
You may be part of the high population of people that believe Christmas is a celebration of Jesus’ birthday. For many people around the world, it is, right? But, what if you found out that Chrismas predates the birth of Christ by centuries? How would you choose to celebrate? In the book The Two Babylons, written by Alexander Hislop, historical references prove that Christmas preexisted 2,000 years before Christ.
The Christkindl Experience.
Promoted by Marin Luther at the Protestant Reformation, a gift-bringer called Christkindl or Christ Child was introduced, and the date of gift exchange changed from December 6th to December 24th. Christkindl is traditional amongst most Protestants since 16th-17th century Europe. During Advent, street markets are held in celebration with Christmas, called a Christmas market.
A Christmas market, also known as the Christkindl market, replaced the Nikolaus markets after the reformation, and Christ Child replaces Nikolaus. Christmas markets are held in cities all around the world and are hugely popular throughout Germany. At a Christkindl market, you can buy:
From open-air market stalls
Christkindl LIVE Annual Scholarship Program
In celebration of Christmas, we are excited to announce the 2020 Christkindl LIVE Annual Scholarship Program, featuring two $500 scholarship awards. College/university students of all majors are eligible to apply. Contestants should write a minimum of 1,000 words on the following essay topic:
Compare and contrast Christmas traditions in different cultures, and ways that the holiday is celebrated worldwide.
For entertainment, there is singing and dancing. One of the most popular items at Christmas markets is the Christ Child angel. Christ Child Angels, also known as Christ Child Fairys, are the most popular items sold and have been a tradition since 1933.
During the 19th century, Catholics in Germany embraced the Christ Child. Described as a spirit-like blonde-haired child with angel wings, the Christkindl was later said to have ridden shotgun with Santa delivering gifts!
No child can see the Christ Child, and parents swear that if they even think about sneaking a peek, you can kiss your gifts goodbye, little buddy.
Parents can be so cruel.
With the children tucked away and out of sight, they wait for the sound of a bell. Then, the family gathers in the living room to open the gifts that are under the Christmas tree. This tradition is called the Bescherung.
Significance of December 25th
For Christians, December 25th is a day of acknowledgment for Jesus’ birthday. Historically, there is no account of early Christians celebrating Jesus’ birthday on December 25th. That is until 354 A.D., long after the death of Jesus.
Thousands of years ago, before Christians claimed the 25th of December, Pagans celebrated the birth of Sol Invictus. Sol Invictus, the Sun God’s holiday was the conclusion to their yearly winter festival Saturnalia.
December 25th is also significant because it always concurs right around the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year.
The Bible spoke of Jesus’ birth in (Luke 2:8) stating, ”There were in the same country shepherds abiding in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.”
Wait, have you ever been to Bethlehem in the winter? Probably not. Temperatures get incredibly cold in December around that region. Could you imagine shepherds keeping watch over their flock by night in the dead of winter? Geographically, there is no way possible that livestock was in the fields in December.
So, what does this mean?
More than likely, Jesus probably was born in September.
Christians accepted Pagan traditions to make it easier to convert to Christianity. Listed below are a few Pagan traditions Christianity adopted that you may not have known. They are:
1. Mistletoe- Symbolized fertility for Pagans and Druids. It was customary to kiss under the mistletoe during the winter solstice
2. Christmas Tree- Pagans brought greenery indoors for decoration. They were used to cheer people up.
3. Gift Giving- This tradition came from Saturnalia, a winter festival. Pagans gave gifts to commemorate loved ones who passed away.
Fun Facts About Christmas Celebrations Around the World
In France, children open the windows of their Advent calendars with joy. St. Nicholas Day kicks off Christmas celebrations on December 6th. You can see cities illuminated with lights. Children polish their shoes, put them in front of the chimney, and hope Father Christmas leaves them sweet treats.
The nativity scene originated in Italy. Father Christmas passes out gifts to kids on Christmas Day. The differences in Italy and America are, gifts get exchanged on January 6th on the Day of Epiphany.
Germany is full of festivities during Christmas. Homes are decorated with ornaments and lights. Families only put Christmas trees up on the morning of Christmas Eve. On December 26th, families celebrate this public holiday by going to Church.
In Egland, people start hanging Christmas lights early, as early as November.
Boxing Day is on December 26th. Boxing Day is when family and friends get together to exchange presents.
Christmas is a time for worshipping, peace, and joy. It’s a time where families are strengthened and united through love. All around the world, the celebration of Christ is displayed by Christians. A sense of peaceful bliss can be felt by all who partake in Christmas festivities. Children lay awake at night, anticipating the arrival of a gift-giver.
The fundamental principals are shared by people all around the world. So, when you take your Christmas lights down for the year, remember the joy you felt. Remember how happy your children were or family was opening gifts Christmas Day. Continue those principles throughout the year. Be kind to your neighbor, spread joy, and help someone less fortunate.
Celebrate Christmas all year long and not just for one day. Being a good person is not limited to one day. Always being good should be a goal shared by everyone. Be an example of all who can see. Set the bar for those around you to be loving, peaceful, and charitable. Christmas is not just a holiday, it’s a blueprint to being the best version of yourself you can be.