Time for a cultural Christmas lesson class! If you’ve come here not wanting to learn and just want to buy Yankee Candles for your home this Christmas, please leave now. Otherwise, if we have your attention, we shall begin…
Christmas is a special time around the world for so, so many people and cultures and now means much more than what it once sprung from. Christmas is a strange mixture of traditions from – of course – Christianity and a celebration of the resurrection and older pagan traditions from around Europe. When the Romans conquered a huge portion of the world and pushed the inhabitants towards Christianity, they found it difficult to get rid of the original pagan traditions of celebrating the summer and winter equinoxes and other, stranger things to us modern, enlightened westerners. The result is a hotchpotch of traditions and cultural expressions from all sorts of religions that pre-date Christianity. Christmas trees, fruit cakes and the giving of presents to each other are all examples of this – Christmas is less Christian than people realise.
So, it’s no small wonder really that Christmas is celebrated by people all over the world in so many different ways and with so many different cultural spins. It’s a global phenomenon and celebration, and there’s many, many different ways that you can enjoy the biggest holiday of the world. Japan is a wonderful example of a more modern Christmas celebration – being a largely non-Christian country, the Japanese celebrate Christmas as a day of happiness and gift-giving, and for them it has barely any religious significance. Often, Christmas eve is celebrated more than Christmas day itself, and is seen as a romantic day that couples spend together and exchange presents – much like Valentine’s day here in the UK. If you choose to take the Japanese route through Christmas, make sure to book a restaurant early – they sell out very, very quickly!
Ghana has over 66 languages packed into one country, and as you might expect people celebrate Christmas in all sorts of different ways. Normally, the celebrations begin on the 20th of December and it’s a family celebration – where people leave work to join their families and enjoy a quiet holiday. Traditional Christmas food in Ghana is stew or okra soup, complemented by porridge, meats and a yam paste – ‘fufu’. Ghana is a very Christian country, and on Christmas day the churches are often packed full of people in traditional colourful clothes. We think it sounds like great fun!
In Mexico, there are traditions that are completely alien to us here in the UK. Often, Christmas processions called ‘Posadas’ make their way through the streets, and celebrate the time in Christmas where Mary and Joseph tried to find somewhere to stay. In each Posoda, children join with painted figures and a model donkey, and call at the houses of friends and neighbor singing songs (much like our own carol singers). After being denied entry to many houses, the children are eventually let in and the real celebration begins!
We hope you enjoyed learning about different Christmas traditions as much as we did when we were researching this article! Let us know what you think and get in contact if you have any questions! And, of course, feel free to browse our stores for some wonderfully fragrant Christmas presents for friends and family!