With Christmas fast approaching, many of us will be spending the upcoming weekends frantically negotiating crowded shopping centers in an attempt to purchase Christmas presents for our nearest and dearest. I do love the festive period, but no amount of mulled wine, Quality Street, and re-runs of Only Fools and Horses can ease the frustration of the Westfield Centre on the weekend.
In spite of my disdain, this is one Christmas tradition that I still seem to observe every year. It has become part of my holiday season, much like Christmas trees, wreaths, stockings, candy canes, and nativity scenes.
This got me thinking about how we celebrate Christmas as a society. Certainly, we always hear Christmas carols, send Christmas cards, and enjoy a Turkey roast, but other cultures choose to fast and tell stories about Christkindl or Godfather Frost.
In Nigeria, for instance, Christmas is celebrated by the emptying of towns and cities, with most Nigerians returning to their ancestral villages to be with their families. On Christmas Eve Nigerians prepare traditional, local meals. In the south, a dish called Jollof rice is served with a meat stew, boiled beans, and fried plantains. In the North, on the other hand, a rice pudding called turro is preferred.
Similarly, in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, Christmas is celebrated in a unique, local style. Initially, Christmas Eve is celebrated as “Generous Day”, when gifts are given in the evening. The 25th and 26th of December are also observed as public holidays.
It is also traditional to fast on Christmas Eve, where individuals are only allowed a spot of sauerkraut soup to keep them going during the day. Children are also encouraged to fast alongside adults. For Christmas dinner, fish soup, breaded roasted carp, and special homemade potatoes are usually served.
However, in Iceland, their lucky citizens are granted a 13 day public holiday starting from the night of December 24th at 6pm. Church bells will ring out at this time, and people will either sit down with their families for holiday dinner.
So, how do you all celebrate Christmas? Also, have you guys finished your Christmas shopping yet? I certainly haven’t.