It’s no secret that many people go crazy for this time of year. We decorate our houses, spend time with friends and family, and immerse ourselves in local holiday celebrations and traditions.
With a diverse group of people here at Fluid, we’re lucky enough to learn how holidays throughout the world are celebrated differently. Here is a close look at how some of our own Fluidites celebrate the holiday season.
Losar is Tibetan New Year’s and the biggest holiday/celebration for Tibetans around the world. My own family celebrates Losar for an entire week. We go over to see family and friends, and have lunch and dinner in their home. We have one specific day of celebration with the entire community and it is the biggest party of the year. To me, Losar consists of spending time with loved ones, buying new clothes, eating fantastic food and saying prayers for a wonderful and auspicious new year for my family. Losar is usually around February, but changes depending on the Tibetan lunar calendar.
Vanessa Santa Cruz
In Peru, we mainly celebrate Christmas on December 24 because that is the day we set everything up for the main event. At the beginning of the month, we set up all the Christmas decorations. Our decorations are inspired by American’s and usually consists of fake snow, snowmen and a plastic pine tree. Most families arrange a nativity but without the baby Jesus. Remember that it’s usually 85° to 90° F during this time. On the 24th, families cook and organize all the presents (my parents always procrastinate and my dad will wrap all our presents at 7:30 p.m.). Dinner revolves around a huge turkey, apple puree, Humitas (South American tamales that are usually white), Arabic rice, pickled turnip, fun salads and something called panettone, which is a huge muffin with raisins and dried fruits. I also remember my grandmother making hot chocolate from scratch.
At 8 p.m., everybody will usually dress up in a new semi-formal outfit for the occasion. There are always lots of photos with the family that night. Everybody stays up until midnight regardless of age, which is when we put the baby Jesus in the nativity. We then hug each family member and wish happiness while everyone in your neighborhood lights fireworks. Later, the families pray before dinner (probably around 1:30 a.m. on the 25th), eat and then start opening presents. If you have a large family, you can meet later at grandma’s where people gather, dance, talk about blessings and kids play with their new toys. Basically, it is a time of just being together and hanging out. As a kid, I cherished going to bed around 4:30 am. But actual Christmas Day would be much more boring. People usually stay home sleeping or resting. My sister and I would usually wake up around 2 p.m. and my parents will be so beat.
My family gets together on Christmas Eve. We read the Christmas Story from the Book of Luke and my girls and their cousins act out all the parts. I play the part of the donkey. I’m not going to say I’m the best person at portraying the donkey, but there must be a reason I am asked to do it every year… just saying. It is really my favorite part of the holiday. Opening presents on Christmas Day is pretty rad, too.
Christmas Eve (Heiliger Abend) is celebrated in Germany on December 24. This is the last day of the Advent and officially starts the “Christmas Season.” Most people will spend the day attending church services, opening presents, decorating a tree and eating traditional food. Both December 25 and the 26 are considered official holidays.
We also have a celebration on December 6 – St. Nicholas’s Day. On this night, children hope that ‘der Nikouas’ will bring them some small gifts, such as chocolate and candy. The children leave their shoes by their doors on the night of the 5th, and throughout the night he puts presents in their shoes.
Ah, Boxing Day – where Canadians across the country pick up the gloves to fight for better deals. There have been various rumors of what actually happens on December 26 up in The Great White North, but I hope to set the record straight here and now.
Most of you will know that Boxing Day is the day immediately after Christmas, where providers of goods would rather sell the remainder of their stock at a massive discount than box it up and ship it back to the distributor. Consumers come into the store with their eyes’ set on a specific prize (a TV, gaming system, years supply of ramen, etc.) and usually only one prize, though the Rocky Balboa’s or people who can take a beating out there can do multiple.
The reason people have their eyes set on one prize is because after they attempt to gain the purchase rights of an item, they usually don’t have enough mustard to go another round for another item. Once people lay hands on a contended item, it gets placed in a holding container and the two people pick up a pair of boxing gloves, step into the makeshift rings and fight it out till one person taps out or is KO’d. The winner goes over to the container and picks up his item, going home the true hero of the day. The loser can either stay and cherry pick the easy fights or return home defeated and begin training for next year’s Boxing Day.
Just kidding. Or am I… ?
My family does a cookie exchange every year where members bring ancestral and heritage (geography) cookies and sweets. We take a picture of all the women in the family at the end of the exchange and have chili for dinner. Then, we play guys against girls’ charades to holiday topics. It’s a heated scenario bound to breakdown for full family hysteria, with laughing interruptions early and often.
I grew up in Croatia, and my dad is Christian Orthodox while my mom is Roman Catholic. I celebrate Christmas on the 25th, but also on January 7. We’ll have something called “Little Christmas” which is after the main holiday. It consists of having a feast with my family and ends with dipping homemade bread in wine to turn off the burning candle.
In Japan, Christmas is seen as a commercial event that was promoted after WW2. So we don’t really have a tradition, but we still get presents and cake.
New Year’s Day (and the days following) is a bigger holiday. It starts on New Year’s Eve, when families get together, eat a huge feast (usually KFC – Japanese people love KFC) and stay up late to welcome the new year. There is a thing called “Joya no kane,” or “Bell of New Year’s Eve,” which is a huge Buddhist bell that monks ring at temples. They always show it on TV at midnight. That’s about the time you feel guilt that you didn’t follow through with any of New Year’s resolutions from the beginning of that year.
On New Year’s Day, people usually dress up, pay a visit to shrines and get together with their families. We have another feast with traditional food (and sometimes KFC), and we always have mochi, which is a Japanese rice cake. Since we have so much mochi, we even put it in our soup. We then participate in something called the “first writing,” where people write things down on a huge piece of paper with a brush in traditional Asian calligraphy style. I don’t really know what it’s for, but all the kids have to do it.
During the time of New Year’s Day and the days after, we visit families and extended families. If there are kids visiting, adults are supposed to give them money in a little envelope (which makes me kind of glad I’m not living in Japan as an adult). That goes on for three days, and during those days you just eat and sleep. Kids get four more days off from school and they blow the money they collected from adults on new toys. On the 7 th day of the new year, you eat porridge with herbs to help your stomach, which has been weakened by all the food and drinks. That is the end of New Year’s fiasco, and it’s a lot of fun.
We hope you learned something new and will share your holiday traditions with us!