Christmas traditions

Story by: Sydney Shurman, Reviews Editor
Photos by: Elizabeth Miller, staff photographer

Christmas treeOn Christmas morning, many children across America wake up early, eager to see which presents they have received from good old Saint Nick. What about other children who celebrate Christmas, though? What are they eagerly awaiting on Christmas morning, if anything?

Not every child pictures a jolly man in a red suit climbing down a chimney at night to deliver presents. On the flip side, some do not dread receiving coal in their stockings either. In fact, coal may seem like a pretty awful gift to receive, but punishments in other countries can be quite a bit worse.

For example, some children believe in a horned beast called Krampus, who is now becoming more well-known in America in light of the recent movie. The legend originated in Germany, but over the years has become popular in all of the Alpine countries. Krampus is a sort of anti-Santa, who instead of bringing a sack full of toys, stuffs bad children into a sack to take them away. He also carries birch sticks in order to swat at the misbehaving kids.

Greece also has some rather strange Christmas lore. According to their legends, there are goblins that live underground and saw away at the World Tree all year, which will eventually collapse and destroy the world. However, on Christmas, they forget all of their plans and come up to the surface in order to terrorize people. When Christmas is over, they return to their home to begin their mission again, creating an endless cycle.

On a more positive note, there are many festive and fun winter traditions too. St. Lucia is a festival of sorts which involves the oldest daughter in a household performing several simple but meaningful duties. She wears a white dress, red sash, and a crown made of twigs and nine candles. Then, she wakes up her family members and they eat breakfast in a candlelit room. Later, all of the people gather to have a parade with torches. At the end of the parade they all throw the torches onto a pile of hay to create a bonfire. St. Lucia originated in Sweden but is now celebrated in all of the Scandinavian countries.

Australians really mix it up by celebrating Christmas in the middle of their summer. People will even go to the beach or have a barbeque, in typical Australian fashion. Otherwise, the celebration is fairly similar to American traditions, with family gatherings, gift exchanges, and a nice meal.

Even within our own borders there is a wide variety of ways to celebrate Christmas. Some people opt out of putting up a Christmas tree, others go out to eat instead of cooking, the possibilities are endless.

holidays“We celebrate Chanukkah, which is a combination of Christmas and Hanukkah,” said Hailey Patton. “We celebrate it because my grandpa is Jewish, and the rest of our family celebrates Christmas, so for him we combined it and made it Channukkah. We still do the lighting of the candles on the Menorah and then we get ‘gelt,’ which is money, every night of Hanukkah. Then we also celebrate Christmas, but with an added Hanukkah gift to it.”

It may seem cliche, but everyone truly is different, and Christmas is made even more wonderful by all of the different celebrations. Whether someone says “Merry Christmas,” “Froehliche Weihnachten,” or “Feliz Navidad,” Christmas is a magical time of year.

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