It’s the season of good cheer, and countries around the world are preparing for their own interpretation of the Christmas holiday.
If you’re looking for inspiration for a new Christmas tradition, read on for some ideas…
Venezuela: Skating to Christmas mass
For local residents in Caracas, Venezuela, getting to Christmas mass is unconventional, but entertaining. People take to the streets on roller-skates and in costume, with fireworks and other festive activities to mark the occasion.
Why do they don skates? As the local legend goes, children go to sleep with a string tied to their shoe, with the end trailing from their window. Skaters reportedly tug on the string to let the children know it’s time to join them to go to mass.
You could draw some inspiration from Venezuela for your own celebration and take younger relatives ice skating or roller skating over the holidays.
Australia: A cold Christmas dinner
In the land of Oz, Christmas takes place during the middle of summer. Rather than having Christmas turkey, Aussies prefer cold options or food that can be quickly thrown on the barbie.
Crayfish, prawns and lobster are popular – so popular that every year there’s the Sydney Fish Market Christmas seafood marathon. This 36-hour event sees around 120 tonnes of prawns and about 700,000 oysters sold, proving the chilled option is popular for the holidays.
If you’ve got relatives who are not fans of traditional Christmas fare, why not cook up something a little different and do your meal the Aussie way?
China: Expensive apple gifts
In Mandarin Chinese, the word for apple – pingguo - sounds similar to the word for peace – ping’an ye. As a result, apples are given as gifts to friends and family to spread good will to all. This means the price of apples soars during the holiday season, but every year thousands are sold.
You can spread your own peaceful sentiment by having apple-based sweet treats and cider. In China, they gift apples in special boxes with beautiful wrapping – you could do the same for a healthier alternative to the usual chocolates.
Italy: A month-long celebration
The festive period in Italy begins with the Immaculate Conception on 8th December, and continues right the way through to 6th January, when the Three Wise Men arrived Bethlehem. Processions of children dressed as shepherds are seen during the Novena, the nine-day period before Christmas. In the south, zampognari – or shepherds in traditional dress playing bagpipes – play in piazzas. The Feast of the Seven Fishes, or the seafood-based meal for Christmas Eve, is still traditional.
For your own interpretation of an Italian Christmas, why not go eco-friendly and try having an Italian ceppo instead of a Christmas tree? This wooden frame is the same triangular shape as a traditional tree, but can be used year after year to display Christmas decorations, sweets and presents for everyone to enjoy.
Find out more about the Italian ceppo tradition
Mexico: A star-shaped piñata
Mexico’s cultural heritage is a beautiful blend of Aztec and Catholic tradition, and Christmas is a perfect example. The Posadas, or the nine days leading up to Christmas Eve, see re-enactments of the Christmas story taking place over nine masses. As Mary and Joseph are welcomed into the inn, a party begins – and a star-shaped piñata makes an appearance. Its seven points represent the seven sins that are to be “broken” by the piñata stick, which represents holy faith.
If you’re looking for an alternative way to distribute sweets, chocolate and nuts this Christmas, you could try a blindfolded piñata competition. It’ll certainly wake up the family after a big Christmas meal!
The United Kingdom: A celebration fit for a Queen
In the UK, Christmas activities are often based on long-standing traditions. A hearty Christmas lunch, followed by the Queen’s speech, has been tradition since George V introduced the Christmas Message in 1932. Carolling has been around since the Middle Ages , and Christmas puddings have their origins in a Medieval dish called ‘plum pottage’. The hunt for small items in the cake – such as a silver coin, a ring or a thimble – became a way of guessing the future for guests in Victorian England. A coin meant wealth, a ring meant marriage – and a thimble meant no husband or wife was in the works!
If you’re planning on the ultimate British Christmas, look for local ingredients, warm up a Christmas pudding and have a cup of PG Tips (sold in the UK since the 1930s).
No matter what your Christmas traditions are, Castle Trust hopes you enjoy the holidays.