Students show cultural holiday traditions

By Veronnica Thompson

Eagle Post  Staff

The renowned holiday of Christmas is celebrated in many parts of the world and is molded to fit each country’s specific culture. America emphasizes Santa, carolers meander South African coasts, Belsnicklers roam the provinces of Canada, and so on. The phenomenon of this holiday takes on many forms and evokes a plethora of emotions, depending on the region.

“The customs really depend on who settled the area,” MG junior Eden Mussie said. “For instance, Eritrea was settled by the Italians, thus, we have Christian traditions, songs, and foods.”

Eritrea is a country located in the Horn of Africa. Mussie describes Eritrea’s holiday festivities as being very “normal.” According to the Holiday Spot, most North and West African cultures share the same Christmas traditions as the Western world because of the European countries that colonized Africa. Most African countries believe in Santa; however, because of limited monetary means, they omit gifts, and chose to focus on the religious elements behind the holiday. From Liberia to Ghana, Africans take great delight in caroling. Singing usually starts Christmas Eve and continues throughout the following day, which is only disrupted by church services.

Europe takes part in many of the traditional festivities. The Christmas holiday started in Europe, thus, the continent introduced many of the common customs. The Christmas tree, for instance, began in Germany.

“We have the decorations of America, but they are much more simple in Germany,” German foreign exchange student, Laura Kruger said. “It’s not as much show.”

European countries have one difference from most other countries, which is that children open gifts on Christmas Eve rather than on Christmas Day.

South and Central American countries also share this similarity. Children receive gifts on December 24, and Santa is not the focal point of the holiday. Much of Latin America is Catholic, which means Latinos place great importance on religious events. Many Mexicans attend la Misa Del Gallo or midnight mass, and other religiously enriched activities, such as processions.

“Normally on Christmas Eve families gather and form a procession to celebrate baby Jesus,” senior and Ecuadorian Nazka Serrano said. “We sing, hold candles, and walk through the streets.”

Even the well-known poinsettia has a religious affiliation. According to the Museum of Science and Industry, the flower came to be after a peasant girl had nothing to give to the baby Jesus and laid weeds down as a gift. From the weeds, a beautiful flower bloomed, which people now call the poinsettia.

Even though Canada sits just slightly north of the United States, it has vastly different traditions. Not only do the concerns of the Christian population need to be met, but the Inuit’s traditions must be mentioned, as well. The biggest Inuit celebration is the Sinck tuck, which is an enormous winter festival. Citizens with a European background partake in the tradition of the Belsnicklers. The Belsnicklers are a group of people that dress up in ridiculous costumes and make huge amounts of noise and demand treats. If a resident discovers one of the Belsnickler’s identity then that member must immediately stop his/her outlandish activities.


Flickr Photos


December 2009
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