Holiday traditions vary widely around the world as well as within our little community of North Star. This month I decided to learn about some of these traditions. I researched several countries and interviewed both staff and consumers to find out what they do for the holidays. This is what I found:
Food during the holidays is as important as it is diverse. Jerry C. (consumer from Advantage) likes the traditional holiday meals. Turkey, potatoes, stuffing, and scalloped corn are his favorites. In contrast, traditional Catholics from Southwest India typically fast (don’t eat) from December 1st to the midnight service on December 24th. That’s almost a whole month of not eating!! A traditional Romanian Christmas dish is the ‘ciorba de perisoare’ which is a slightly sour vegetable soup made with fermented bran and pork meatballs. I don’t know which is worse, not eating or eating that! I’ll stick to the turkey and mashed potatoes, thank you very much.
Many families play games around the holidays. Rachel (Advantage coordinator) plays a game with dice and gifts. They put all the gifts together and if you roll a set of matching numbers you get to pick a gift that you want. One year they were throwing around glass dishes!
In China, a tradition that is becoming popular is giving apples on Christmas Eve. The apples are usually wrapped in colored paper. Jerry C. said his favorite gift he ever received was a boombox with ‘Journey’ CDs. Georgia D. (consumer from Advantage) once received a Viking t-shirt and a Waterloo Blackhawks coat that were her favorite gifts.
Everyone knows about Santa Claus. However in Germanic folklore there is Krampus, a beast-like creature who shows up to punish the naughty children. Just the sight of him is really punishing. Today, young people dress up as Krampus and roam the streets of many Balkan countries to frighten young children.
Religion is very important for many during the holidays. In Egypt, Christmas Eve is celebrated in January. Coptic Christians go to church for a special service that typically lasts from 10pm to midnight but some can go until 4am. Christmas Eve is very important to Mark (Executive Director) and his family because his father was a minister. Mark enjoys singing in the Christmas cantata at church, going to the Christmas Eve service then going home to open gifts.
One thing everyone, everywhere can agree on is the importance of family during the holidays. In Zambia, Christmas is celebrated with few decorations and fewer gifts. The gifts tend to carry a deep cultural significant and remind the recipient to nurture and care for their family.
Steve W. (consumer from Advantage) remembers when his sister was born on Christmas as his favorite memory. Mary A. (Director of Advantage) remembers fondly when her son-in-law got down on his in his knee in front of the whole family and proposed to her daughter.
Have a safe and happy holiday season!!!