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Christmas Traditions From Around The World!🎄🌎

To celebrate the 1st December, we're taking a look at Christmas traditions from around the world! Whilst Debate Mate is a UK-based organisation, our students and mentors are incredibly multi-cultural and this article is a celebration of that incredible diversity!

What began as a Christian festival to celebrate the birth of Jesus, has become a month-long event celebrated in a huge range of ways by people across cultural and religious boundaries!

We've picked a country from every continent to spotlight their unique Christmas traditions...  

                                                           Christmas in Iceland:

A lot of countries celebrate Christmas on 24th rather than 25th December, and this is the case in Iceland! For the 13 days leading up until Christmas, Icelandic children place a shoe in their bedroom window, to be filled with either treats of rotting potatoes depending on how they've behaved the day before! This is believed to be the work of the Icelandic Yule Lads, the 13 sons of two infamous Icelandic trolls.

It is also at this time of year that the notorious Yule Cat is rumoured to roam the countryside, a gigantic cat-like beast believed to devour anyone who didn't receive new clothes for Christmas!

                                                           Christmas in Ghana:

Christmas is celebrated in Ghana from 20th December to the first week of January, and coincides with the end-of-year cocoa harvest, adding to the celebratory atmosphere! There are over 66 languages spoken across Ghana so it's not uncommon to hear a diverse range of Christmas carols translated into a huge range of languages! Ghanaians typically attend Church on Christmas Day in traditional dress, then return home to enjoy a family feast! This often includes peanut soup, fufu (a paste made from mashed yams), okra soup, and some kind of meat, such as chicken, goat, sheep, beef, or pork.

                                                     Christmas in New Zealand:

Whilst Christmas is traditionally seen as a Winter festival, for those in the Southern hemisphere, the 25th December actually falls in their Summer time! As a result of this, in New Zealand, Santa Claus is often pictured wearing jandals (what New Zealanders call flip flops) as it would be far too hot for him to wear big black boots! New Zealanders often take advantage of the sunny weather and spend Boxing Day at the beach with family and friends. Whilst many bring Christmas fir trees into their homes, according to Maori tradition, some choose to decorate the pohutakawa tree!

                                                        Christmas in Venezuela:

Christmas in Venezuela is a hugely colourful celebration, complete with parades and fireworks! Perhaps most famously, on Christmas day in its capital Caracas, the roads are closed to make way for a mass rollerskating parade as people make their way to Church! It's traditional for Venezuelans to paint their houses a few weeks before Christmas, ready to welcome family and friends for festive celebrations.

                                                        Christmas in Indonesia:

Whilst the majority of Indonesians are Muslim and don't observe Christmas festivities, the 20% of the population who are Christian go big at this time of year! In Bali, it is common to make Christmas trees out of chicken feathers, alongside plenty of other colourful household decorations. Cookies are a particularly popular sweet treat bought and exchanged as gifts at Christmas in Indonesia.

                                                         Christmas in Jamaica:

Christmas Eve is quite the event in Jamaica! Most famously, it is the day when the Grand Market is held, a festive market where Jamaicans can go Christmas shopping, buy lots of festive food and party all night with their friends and family! Everywhere is decorated with colourful lights and street vendors sell jerk chicken, boiled corn and candy canes. On Christmas Day, families can finally enjoy a traditional Jamaican Christmas cake, typically soaked in red wine and rum for months in the lead up to Christmas!

                                                        Christmas in Antarctica:

Whilst this continent has no permanent population, it is now home to a multi-national collection of scientific researchers! Here, Christmas Day is celebrated in 24 hour sunlight with plenty of snow. Scientists typically enjoy a day off to enjoy a Christmas lunch and a fancy dress party in the evening but traditions vary widely depending on the nationality of each Antarctic station. Some even enjoy a 'polar plunge' to celebrate- this involves taking a very chilly dip, sometimes naked, in the icy Antarctic waters!

From leaving shoes out for the 13 Yule Lads to rollerskating to Church on Christmas Day, we hope this article has demonstrated the huge diversity of Christmas celebrations and traditions across the 7 continents!

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