Christmas Around the World
When missionaries accept a place of service for God in a foreign country, they often leave behind the familiar traditions they’ve become accustomed to while growing up and living in the United States.
As missionaries become acclimated to the various aspects of living in another culture, they usually adapt to the celebrations and activities of those to whom they minister, while still holding onto some of the values of their own family traditions.
The world has a magic glow at Christmas; hearts are merrier, and the cold winter temps somehow cause one to feel cozy in the nearness of a fireplace, especially if one lives where there is snow and ice.
In the land of our Savior’s birth, the Jewish nation celebrates Hanukkah for eight days and nights (commemorating the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem)—this year from December 2nd to the 10th. Each day a candle is lit on a Menorah, a candelabrum with nine branches. All candles are illuminated together on the final night. Other festivities include playing a game, eating oil-based foods and dairy products.
A Giant Lantern Festival is held each year on the Saturday before Christmas Eve in San Fernando—the “Christmas Capital of the Philippines.” The huge lanterns are illuminated by electric bulbs in a kaleidoscope of patterns.
Germany celebrates St. Nicholas’ Day when Nikolaus travels by donkey in the middle of the night and leaves little treats like coins, chocolate, oranges, and toys in the shoes of good children, particularly in the Bavarian region. He’ll also visit schools. In exchange for sweets or a small present, each child must recite a poem, sing a song, or draw a picture.
Venezuelans head to church early Christmas morning on roller skates. The unique tradition is so popular that roads are closed to traffic, so the people can skate in safety. Afterward, they head home for a Christmas dinner of tamales—a wrap made from cornmeal dough and stuffed with meat.
For Christians, Christmas is acknowledging the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, a day when hope everlasting was delivered. He not only is the Christ of Christmas, but He is the Christ of Redemption. One individual recalls: “I love the Christmas season. I vividly remember my first Christmas after I accepted Christ as Savior! My entire perspective on life and Christmas was dramatically transformed by the life-changing work of Christ when I was born again. Today, it still seems fresh to me. First and foremost, Christmas is about Christ. It is His season!”