Christmas Traditions Around the World

<a href="http://hooplaha.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/santa-globe.jpg"><img class="size-full wp-image-10456 " title="santa globe" src="http://hooplaha.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/santa-globe.jpg" alt="" width="380" height="250" /></a> teaching.monster.com

Christmas is celebrated near and far, and over those distances, the celebration changes and quirks in interesting ways.

Poland: Christmas dinner is called, <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wigilia">Wigilia</a>, and is held on Christmas Eve, It's tradition to leave one seat open in case anyone without a home, family or warm meal wants to join the table.

South Africa: Since December is a summer month here, people often hold their celebrations at the beach or in a park.

Australia: On Christmas Eve, a massive audience attends the <a href="http://www.visionaustralia.org/fundraising-and-volunteering/carols-by-candlelight/about">Carols by Candlelight</a> concert, an annual performance that attracts more than 10,000 people. This year over 9,000 carolers attended the dress rehearsal. All ticket proceeds will be donated this year to helping children who can't see.

Brazil: <em>Papa Noel</em> is the gift giver. He and his helpers walk the streets giving small gifts to children. Shoes are left outside doors so <em>Papa Noel</em> can fill them with treats and presents. Other presents are hidden all over the house, but before the children can search for them, they must serve their parents breakfast in bed. Families go to Midnight Mass and afterwards, bells ring and fire-crackers are set off.

Denmark: The people of Denmark have their Christmas dinner at midnight on Christmas Eve. Their dessert is a special rice pudding with one almond in it. Whoever gets the almond will have good luck in the coming year.

France: On Christmas Eve, French children put their shoes <em>(sabots)</em> in front of the fireplace. They hope <em>Pere Noel</em> (Father Christmas) will fill them with presents. His partner <em>Le Pere Fouettard</em> (Father Spanker) would "reward" bad children with a spanking. Somehow I'm not surprised.

Germany: Germany also has a cheerful Santa opposite called, Krampus, also known as <em>Krampuskarten</em>. Demonic in appearance and cranky in nature, he punishes bad children by frightening them with rusted chains and bells. It is as terrifying as it sounds. All in good fun though, I'm sure.

Fun fact: <em>Silent Night</em> began as a German song, Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht.

Greece: The Christmas Feast is highly anticipated because it proceeds a 40 day fast.

Hong Kong: Hong Kongians celebrate a festival of peace and renewal called Ta Chiu. People make offerings to their patron saints. Festivities close with the reading of the names of every person who lives in the area. The names are then listed, attached to a paper horse, and burned in hopes that they will rise to heaven.

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