As the autumn weather begins to cool my mind has returned to Ireland where the evenings are growing shorter and shorter with every passing day and a cold wind has begun to nip upon the tip of my nose. Brightly coloured lights are shining across the darkened roads and
music is flowing from the shops and pubs which line the sides of the streets. This can only mean one thing.
Christmas is upon us.
What was once primarily a Christian festival, has grown away from its religious origins to become a global multicultural celebration of family, friendship and love. In many countries it is the largest festival held annually and usually spans from about the 21st of December until the 6th of January (It’s actually bad luck to have your Christmas decorations up outside of these dates) although Last Christmas I think my city forgot to take them down until March.
For me, and many others, it is a time to return to our homeplaces and spend time with those we care about. It is an opportunity to meet old friends, celebrate and give gifts to the people who are important in our life and spend our evenings Rocking Around the Christmas Tree. All while crossing our fingers in the hope for a White Christmas.
How we celebrate Christmas has changed as well, traditional hymns have given way to modern pop songs, Christmas illuminations have changed from simple candles to elaborate scenes. We’ve kept a lot of the old traditions too. We put up a Christmas tree and decorate it. Presents are wrapped and placed underneath. Mistletoe is hung for people to kiss beneath. And these traditions differ in various countries too. In mainland Europe for example gifts are traditionally given on Christmas Eve (24th) rather than Christmas Day as they are in the UK and Ireland.
But there is one tradition that remains constant all around the world. He is known by many names but is easily recognisable as a fat man in a (usually) red suit who travels to every home on the planet in just a few short hours. With gifts for all those (kids) who have been good over the past year, he is of course Santa Claus! (or Santy – if you’re from Ireland!). He has been making his list of names and presents, he has checked it twice and soon, boys and girls, Santa Claus is Coming to Town. Children the world over have to force themselves to sleep while overcoming their excitement that Santa is on his way.
So if, for you, Christmas is just another night that passes by, an opportunity for a romantic date or if It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year. Have a kind, warm and peaceful Christmas and, if you can, send a message to someone you care about and let them know you are thinking about them.
Merry Xmas Everybody, Feliz Navidad (Spanish), Joyeux Noël (French) agus Nollaig Shona duit (Irish).
- Did you know traditionally Santa wore green clothes? The red that we are familiar with came from an advertising campaign for coca cola in the 1920’s.
- The tradition of eating KFC at Christmas is entirely Japanese! It started at Japan’s first KFC shop in Nagoya in 1970 and is very surprising to foreigners when we first hear about it. We usually eat a roast turkey for our main Christmas meal with a lot of side dishes (but this does vary a little between countries).
- Many famous UK department stores and organisations spend a lot of money on creating a new Christmas CM every year, these are usually very well created and people get very excited waiting for them to be released (Check out UK Christmas ads on YouTube)
- It’s considered bad luck to give shoes as a Christmas present to a boyfriend/girlfriend/partner… it is said that if you they will walk out of your life in the following year.
- It’s also bad luck to avoid the kiss when you are under the mistletoe (But I’m not sure if it’s bad luck for the person kissing or the person running away!).
Hidden in the English text are the names of six very popular Christmas songs! How many can you find?