Christianity being the widest followed religion all across the globe, Christmas celebrations around the world needs special mention. The holy sounds of caroling, enchanting Christmas decorations and the lights of mirth illumined in the heart of every Christian are some of the distinctive traits of the season.
Celebrations on Christmas Eve
A day before Christmas is called Christmas Eve. The Christmas celebration starts on the evening of December 24. The significance of Christmas Eve in contexts of widely accepted traditions is higher than the D-Day itself. On Christmas Eve the Christmas-tree is displayed in its full grandeur. In many countries the Yule log is somberly lighted followed by a sumptuous Christmas dinner.
Christmas Eve is considered as an auspicious day for family get-together. On Christmas Eve many Christians customarily commemorate a Midnight mass symbolizing the commencement of Christmas Day. Whereas, during midnight many churches carry out a Candlelight service which is classically performed in the evening. It is also witnessed as the night when Santa Claus or his intercontinental alternatives, go around the houses rejoicing and gifting presents to well-behaved children.
Midnight Mass celebrations
The Midnight mass was initially commemorated by the Pope during midnight in the chapel of the Santa Maria Maggiore Basilica in Rome, in front of a small group of people attending worship. The festivity of mass at midnight is established on the primeval faith that Jesus was born exactly when the clock struck twelve. Somber and excited with the cheerful sound of clanging bells, with light dazzling all over and with songs of merriment are some of the anticipated features of Midnight Mass.
Christmas tree decorations
The ritual of embellishing a Christmas tree incorporates beautifications that are done with the straw pieces strung collectively on a thread into elaborate geometrical shapes. You can use painted egg shells birds, horses, lambs, moons, suns, stars, flowers and other statuettes. Christmas trees are also embellished with apples, fir or pine cones, nuts and paper cuttings.
Christmas is celebrated in different ways in different nations across the globe.
Christmas celebrations in US
In US the festive season customarily starts after the Thanksgiving holiday, on the fourth Thursday in November. On Thanksgiving Day, an extravagant procession is carried out in New York City that has the cheerful statue of Santa Claus taking part in it. Department stores, shopping malls and small shops prepare themselves for the Christmas shopping season to catch the attention of the shoppers.
Christmas Eve is not a certified holiday in US. However, many offices organize Christmas parties to keep the festive spirit intact. American gives a final touch to their home decorations during the evening. Roman Catholics perform a Midnight Mass service at church and take part in singing Christmas carols. Special services at Protestant churches are also held on Christmas Eve.
In US the Christmas dinner incorporates cakes, turkey or ham, potatoes and pie. The dinner menu also comprise a lot of sweet dishes such as the "Crostoli," a fried bread garnished with orange peel or the "Berlinerkranser" - a Norwegian wreath-figured cookie or the "Pfeffernuesse," a bread filled with sweet spices. Other ingredients of Christmas dinner are baked breads and cookies. Eggnog, cream drink, milk, beaten eggs and brandy are usually savored by adults at Christmas Eve get-together.
Christmas celebrations in UK
In UK the festivity starts at Advent. On this occasion, with the help of three pink, one white and one purple candle, holy garlands are prepared. In England along with other British nations, the striking Christmas Trees are an indispensable part of conventional Christmas decor. Going back in history would reveal that since 1850s the decorating of Christmas trees, in England has been extensively admired after Prince Albert had placed a Christmas tree in Windsor Castle for his wife Queen Victoria and their kids. In the contemporary scenario, it is inauspicious to have the Christmas decorative items at home even after 6th January.
History suggests that in England the ritual of Christmas celebrations started in 596 AD, when St Augustine landed on the shores of England with the message of Christianity. This day witness the celebrators decorating their homes with Christmas trees, lights, glitters and other decorative pieces. The customary Christmas dinner in England is a lip smacking affair with the major dish being roasted turkey with sauces and vegetables. The sweet dish is usually a fruity Christmas pudding with brandy sauce.
Churches and Cathedrals organize masses, with many people participating in the Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. For Catholics, it is one of the major Holy Days of Obligation.
A day after Christmas in England is considered as Boxing Day. On this day the young boys stroll around gathering cash in clay boxes which when filled completely are cracked open. This day is still observed in UK and is a bank holiday in England.
Christmas celebrations in India
India is a home for many communities. Christians are a minority in India and are just 25 million in number. However, this is not a sufficient reason for not observing the festival. The festival is not only celebrated by Christians but also by also religions.
The custom of Christmas celebration was initiated here with the immigration of Europeans. Although the nation got its independence in the year 1947, many western traditions and festivals sustained. Moreover, the presence of Christian community in India assisted in sustaining these rituals. Today, the occasion is passionately observed by people of other beliefs too.
Besides performing the Midnight mass Indian Christians decorate local churches with Poinsettia flowers and candles. After the completion of mass everyone enjoys a lip smacking buffet of assorted delicacies, mostly comprising curries. In India different languages are being spoken. In Sanskrit Merry Christmas is `Krismasasya shubhkaamnaa`, in Hindi and Urdu, is `Bade Din ki Mubarak`; in Bengali `Barodiner shubhechha janai`; and in Tamil it`s `Christhu Jayanthi Nalvaalthukal`.
In India, Santa Claus is known for giving presents to kids from a horse and cart. Santa Claus is called `Christmas Baba` in Hindi and `Christmas Thaathaa` in Tamil.