How to Express "Merry Christmas" in Any Language
- By Jenna Maxwell
Every year, people living in countries around the world gather with friends and loved ones in celebration of Christmas. In the United States, the holiday is celebrated on the 25th of December; however, shopping, decorating, and parties with friends, family, and even employers generally take place for a month before the actual date. In many homes in the U.S., the date is celebrated with the giving and receiving of gifts, gathering with family, and a holiday feast. While this is a generalization of how many in the United States celebrate Christmas, it is not a representation of how everyone who lives in the country celebrates it. Additionally, it does not represent how it is celebrated in other parts of the globe. Because there are many people who come from various countries across the globe, some may adhere to customs and the traditions of their country of origin. These differences include how people wish one another a "Merry Christmas" as well.
In some countries, such as Canada, Christmas traditions are very similar to those found in the United States. The United Kingdom is another place that shares many similar traditions with the United States, as many of these traditions originated there. Some differences do exist, however, such as Father Christmas delivering presents to children instead of Santa Claus, for example. British children request presents from Father Christmas, just as American children do with Santa Claus; however, their wish lists are burned in the fire, which allows the ashes to go up the chimney for Father Christmas to read. While Christmas falls on December 25 in Great Britain, the people there also celebrate December 26, which is known as Boxing Day. Instead of "Merry Christmas," residents of the U.K. generally use the greeting "Happy Christmas!"
"Frohliche Weihnachten!" is the greeting given in Germany to wish others a Merry Christmas. There are several traditions in Germany that celebrate Christmas and the Christmas season. On December 6, people celebrate St. Nicholas Day. On the eve of St. Nicholas Day, while children are asleep, St. Nicholas places goodies in the boot or shoe of good children, while placing twigs in the shoe of children who have been bad. In certain areas, people dress as a demon-like creature named Krampus to frighten bad children. Christmas Eve is a special and fun day in Germany, as this is the day that the Christmas tree is decorated and presented to the family or guests. In decorating the Christmas trees, real candles are carefully placed on the tree, not the electric lights that are used in the U.S. Christmas in Germany is also celebrated on both December 25 and December 26. Germany isn't the only place to celebrate St. Nicholas Day: Other countries such as France and Holland also celebrate this day, including the leaving of gifts in shoes. In France, children also place their shoes in front of the fireplace for Father Christmas, or Pere Noel, on Christmas Eve. Pere Noel also has a companion who spanks bad children. His name is Pere Fouettard, or "Father Whipper."
In some countries, Christmas is celebrated on a day other than December 25. In Ethiopia, for example, the holiday is celebrated in January on the 7th. This difference occurs because the country follows the Julian calendar. The people of Ethiopia who celebrate Christmas fast on Christmas Eve and then attend a celebration called Ganna, which takes place in the Ethiopian Orthodox church, on Christmas. Children typically do not receive gifts on Christmas, and a game, also named Ganna, is a popular sport. People in Ethiopia give the Christmas greeting "Melkam Ganna!"
People in Sweden greet one another on Christmas with the phrase "God Jul!" In Sweden, the holiday lasts nearly two months. The lighting of a candle on an Advent wreath every Sunday before Christmas is a common tradition in Sweden. The main celebration is December 25, which people celebrate by attending church services. The day before Christmas, the tradition is for Jultomten, not Santa Claus, to bring gifts for children. Children light a candle in windows and leave Jultomten porridge. Also on Christmas Eve, families share a large dinner. The Christmas tree remains standing in Sweden until January 13.
There are many, many other traditions and greetings around the world. In Egypt, one might hear Merry Christmas, or it may be said in Arabic "I'D Miilad Said Oua Sana Saida," or in French, "Joyeux Noel." "Buon Natale, or "Buone Feste Natalizie," is how Italians wish one another a Merry Christmas. In Japan, "Kurisumasu Omedeto" is the traditional way of wishing someone a merry Christmas.
For more information on traditions and Christmas greetings from around the world, please review the following links:
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