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Minnehaha community members come from diverse backgrounds and celebrate Christmas in differing ways. Graphic by Sammi Martin.

Christmas around the world

While many Americans celebrate with Christmas music and gifts, the holiday season means different things to people all over the world

Christmas is the main American holiday and is celebrated each year by hundreds of millions of people across the world. However, not everyone celebrates this holiday as adamantly as Americans or Christians. There are places around the world where people either don’t want to or can’t celebrate Christmas.

“I don’t celebrate Christmas and no one in Somalia does either,” said senior Hussein Farah. Farah was born in Somalia, a country where the widespread religion is Muslim. Because the whole country is mainly Muslim, Christmas is not celebrated because it is a Christian holiday. “The majority of the people in Somalia practice Islam so we don’t celebrate Christmas,” said Farah. Christmas was never widely celebrated in Somalia and in 2015, it was banned by the Somali government as they believed it was a threat to the country’s Islamic heritage.

What Americans typically think of when they hear the word “Christmas” is big Christmas trees with lots of lights and presents and a party on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. They also think about Jesus and his birth story. China is a whole different story.

“In China, Christmas is not a traditional holiday,” said sophomore Qi Shuo Liang. “But, when I was a child, I still put a Christmas tree in my home and my parents still gave me Christmas gifts but it was just a really small thing.“ In China, Christmas is all about people having time to go around and buy stuff for themselves but has nothing to do with Jesus and his birth story.

“In China, Christmas is all about shopping and Santa and consumerism as opposed to the western world is more about Jesus,” said Chinese teacher Ming Dong. “There are only a very small amount of Christians that know Christmas is about Jesus and not just about Santa.” Because China is a communist country, Christianity is not practiced freely.

While there are a good amount of countries around the World that do not celebrate or don’t particularly condone celebrating Christmas, there are also many other Christian countries, such as Slovakia and Mexico, that do celebrate Christmas and have similar traditions to America.

In a country like Mexico that has very different culture from America, people may think they would celebrate Christmas a lot differently from here. However, that is just not the case. People in Mexico celebrate Christmas in many similar ways to people in America.

“Around Christmas time, all the families get together and eat a lot of Mexican food like tacos or pambazos,” said sophomore Hector Espinoza. “Something families really like to do is to buy a present for everyone else even if it’s small. They do this so that nobody is left out and everybody has something.” The personal, family part of Christmas is almost exactly the same between America and Mexico. Both people eat food with their families and buy presents for one another. Another part of Christmas that is shared between cultures are the decorations that are put up for the holiday.

“There are people with Christmas trees but not everybody has one,” said Espinoza. “But, there are a lot of lights. There are lights everywhere. There are lights on the houses, in the streets, they’re everywhere.” Even though, to us, Mexico’s culture might seem to be completely different than America’s, Christmas is celebrated in the same ways at the same times and has been that way for years.

Like Mexico, Slovakia celebrates Christmas as a family and they also eat a lot of food.

“Every family does it differently. My family would cook our Christmas dinner the whole day that day and we would only have a very little amount of food during the day, so then we would be hungry enough to have big dinner,” said junior Tatiana Mesikova. There is also a gift exchange but, unlike China, there is no Santa.

“We don’t have Santa, Baby Jesus brings us presents,” said Mesikova. “Some families would go to church and when they came back home, presents would be under the tree. But as we got older, kids would just put their presents for their parents and siblings under the tree and we just wouldn’t talk about it.” Another Christmas tradition that is celebrated in Slovakia as well as America is decorating the house and tree.

“We would decorate our house and Christmas tree on the 24th,” said Mesikova. “We do all of our preparation on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.” Even though Slovakia is thousands of miles away from America, the traditions stay essentially the throughout Christian countries like Slovakia and Mexico.

Christmas is celebrated in a variety of ways. To some, it is the biggest and best holiday of the entire year. To others, it is just a time for shopping and buying things. However, just because a certain person doesn’t celebrate the holiday doesn’t mean they can’t have fun with it. There is always music and food and company that everyone can enjoy happily.

 

 

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