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holly holly and candycane bar holly
Christmas Around the World
Around The World

The spirit of Christmas is the same everywhere it's celebrated, but the many different ways that people celebrate are part of what makes Christmas so much fun. Take a quick look at a few celebrations from all over the world.

Norway
Julenissen (the Christmas elf) , with his stocking cap and long white beard, brings presents to Norwegian children on Christmas Eve. Families also exchange gifts on Christmas Day. In the past, Norwegian children would dress up in costumes and go from house to house asking for treats, much as North American children do for Halloween. The leader of the group would be dressed as a bukk, or goat, and the custom was known as "going Julebukk (Christmas goat)." Children in rural areas of Norway still go Julebukk today.

Say Merry Christmas in Norwegian:Gledelig Jul

Korea
Christianity is not the predominant religion in Korea, but some Koreans do celebrate Christmas. Early morning caroling is popular there. Groups travel from house to house awakening their friends and neighbors. By the time the caroling ends, a beautiful Christmas Day is dawning. Many churches also feature special Christmas music programs throughout the day.

Say Merry Christmas in Korean: Sung Tan Chuk Ha

Ireland
The Irish put lighted candles in their windows to invite the Holy Family -- or other weary travelers looking for a place to stay -- into their homes. Traditionally, any wanderers that did stop at a house with a candle in the window were given a meal and a night's rest. St. Stephen's Day, the day after Christmas, is also a national holiday in Ireland. Young men known as Wren Boys go from house to house, singing and carrying a long pole with holly attached. The holly is supposed to conceal a wren, the symbol of St. Stephen, though nowadays, real wrens are not used.

Say Merry Christmas in Irish: Nollaig Shona Dhuit

Australia
Christmas is a summer holiday in Australia, and since the weather is good, one of the most popular traditions is open-air caroling. Whole communities gather at dusk on Christmas Eve to sing beautiful Christmas songs by candlelight or torchlight. Because of the warm weather, Christmas dinners are often light and may feature cold meats, fruit and pavlova, a popular Australian dessert. Some Australian families eat Christmas dinner on the beach!

Brazil
December in Brazil is a summer month when beautiful tropical flowers are in bloom. Christmas celebrations include picnics, fireworks, boating events, and open-air fiestas. Nativity scenes, called presÚpios in Brazil, are an important part of holiday decorations. Brazilian children receive gifts from Papai NoŰl, which means Father Christmas.

Say Merry Christmas in Portuguese:Feliz Natal

Poland
Polish families share a Christmas Eve supper called the wigilia. The number of dishes served at the wigilia must always be odd --5, 7, 9-- and the number of guests must always be even. An especially important part of the meal is the breaking of the oplatek, a thin, wafer-like bread with a nativity scene stamped on its surface. Once the oplatek is broken, it is shared with everyone at the table.

Say Merry Christmas in Polish: Wesolych swiat

Mexico
Las Posadas, a series of celebrations lasting for nine nights, are an important part of Christmas in Mexico. In a posada, groups of adults and children dress as figures from the Nativity story and make a procession symbolizing the journey of Joseph, Mary and Jesus as they sought shelter in Bethlehem. When the procession reaches the house that has been chosen for that night, the pilgrims ask for shelter until they are eventually admitted. Once the keepers of the house let them in, everyone celebrates with music, food and sometimes even fireworks.

Say Merry Christmas in Spanish: Feliz Navidad

Italy
In Italy, musicians welcome the coming of Christmas by playing traditional songs on the zampogna, similar to bagpipes. Christmas Eve dinners are meatless and may include eel, spaghetti with anchovies, or cardoni (Jerusalem artichokes cooked with egg). Favorite Christmas sweets include nougat candy, called torrone, a star-shaped cake called pandoro and a special fruitcake called panettone. Children receive gifts on Epiphany, January 6, when La Befana, a good witch, comes down the chimney and fills their stockings with treats -- or if they've been bad, coal.

Say Merry Christmas in Italian: Buon natale.



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