Rooted in religious tradition or holiday cheer, Christmas is a global celebration. Here in the United States, that means baked goodies, scrumptious meals, gift giving, twinkling lights, Santa Claus, festive movies… the list is endless. Scope in further, and Christmas rituals vary even by family. Take a step back, and you’ll find merriment spans the globe in all different forms.
The Netherlands technically celebrate Christmas, but it’s a more mellow holiday than St. Nicholas’ Day on December 6. And on December 5, St. Nicholas’ Eve, children receive presents and parties ensue, which typically feature treasure hunt games. In these games, kids follow clues to find little presents left by Sinterklaas, who comes from Spain.
Over half the population in Brazil is Catholic, which means Christmas is a big holiday. And though it’s summertime down south, many of its holiday customs are similar to ours. Santa Claus is known as Papi Noel and will exchange a present for the sock children leave near a window. Unlike much of the U.S., many people like to go to the beach and it’s common to receive a “thirteenth salary”— workers are paid twice their standard pay during December to boost the economy. Many also attend a midnight Mass service.
Like Brazil, Christmastime in Australia brings the heat. Santa is typically seen in board shorts rather than his cozy red suit down under. Still, Christmas trees, festive light displays and caroling are abundant. Many shopping malls are decked out, like the David Jones store at Pitt Street Mall in Sydney, which tells a different Yuletide story every year. And when it comes to food, it’s all about Christmas lunch (not dinner), which can include swimming, playing cricket and eating the very best prawns.
From December 16 to Christmas Eve, kids in Mexico perform Posadas, which celebrate the part of the Nativity story where Mary and Joseph search for a place to stay. For this, paper lanterns and moss decorate the outside of homes and children are given candles and a board (with clay figures of Mary and Joseph) to process around the streets with and sing songs at each home. When the children finally end up at a house they are welcome in, a party with food, games and fireworks ensues. There is a different Posada party each night, with the final one occurring on Christmas Eve. The night culminates with a midnight church service, fireworks and piñatas.