Christmas celebrations around the world

Kellie Gleeson

Christmas is a celebrated in many countries around the world. Each country has its own traditions and rituals for celebrating this beloved holiday.
In Canada, the celebrations start late November. On Nov. 25, Canadians hold an event known as the great Taffy Pull in honor of Saint Catherine.
This event allows all single women in town to meet eligible bachelors. These women pick a man that will take them to a Christmas dance.
In Iceland, family is the key word during the holiday season. The family spends much of the holiday season together singing songs, telling folk stories and eating at family gatherings.
During the Icelandic holiday season, each person gets only one present. If someone does not get a present, he or she will be attacked by the Jolakottur, or the Yule cat.
Also on Yule’s Eve, the Icelandic people are not allowed to listen to anything electrically from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. If they go against this tradition, they will also be attacked by the dreaded Jolakottur.
In Mexico, people reenact the journey of Joseph and Mary. This is a nine day celebration called Las Posadas. During this special celebration, people also say nightly prayers and partake in nightly rituals. On the last night, they have someone dress up as the Holy Family and bless the town as well as act out the coming of the three kings.
Germany starts the holiday season on Dec. 6 with Saint Nikolaus Day. At this time, all the open air markets start up. At these markets, anything from pewter ornaments to wine can be bought.
Another interesting German tradition is the decorating of the tree. The tree is only presented on Christmas Eve and can not be seen by the children until fully decorated. Therefore, the father entertains the children while the mother decorates the tree with real candles, apples, cookies, trains and tinsel.
Instead of stockings, each person has a brightly decorated plate with a variety of fruits and chocolate.
In Greece, major holiday traditions start on Christmas Eve. On this night, children roam from house to house singing Kalanda, or Christmas carols. To accompany the singing, children use metal triangles and drums.
Another tradition is the blessing of the houses. For the twelve days of Christmas, the house is blessed with holy water in protection of the Killantzaroi. These are gnome like mischief makers who enter houses through chimneys and cause utter chaos.
In Ireland, three candles are set in the window during the holiday season. These represent the father, son and Holy Ghost.
Priests and solo travellers enter into the households that bare the candles to say mass or eat a huge meal.
Egypt and many other Middle Eastern celebrate the holiday on Jan. 7. They fast from meat for 45 days and it is broken on Christmas.
Russians also believe that they must fast and celebrate the holiday season on Jan. 6. The main Russian tradition is called the Krestney Khod procession and is led by the highest ranking member of the church. This symbolizes the journeys that their great grandparents made.
In Australia, Christmas is celebrated in the heat of the summer. Many people celebrate Christmas with a huge beach party. The most popular beach is Bondi Beach in Sydney.
A special mass is held in Saint Mary’s church in Sydney. Thousands of people attend this service. All the choirs in Australia sing at this service.