features - christmas around the world hb
Christmas Celebrated In a Variety of Ways All Around the World

by Hannah Benson

All over the world, different cultures celebrate Christmas in their own ways. Whether it be Belgium or Venezuela, Christmas is always exciting and joyous.

In Belgium, “St. Niklaas” brings children presents on December 6th. Families put their shoes in front of the fireplace, as well as gifts for St. Niklaas. Some examples of gifts are drawings, biscuits, or even carrots for his horses. Belgium children also believe that Zwarte Piet, St. Niklaas’s assistant, helps St. Niklaas throughout the night. [1]

People also splurge on a large variety of Belgium Christmas treats. Some include tangerines, gingerbread, chocolate, mokjes (cookies shaped in letters), Kerststronk (sponge roll cake), koffiekoek (coffee cake), and Smoutebollen (deep fried dumplings). [1]

Many Christians celebrate Christmas in Egypt, even though they only make up 15% of the population, most of whom are Coptic Orthodox. In Egypt, Christmas is on January 7th. On their Christmas Eve, Coptic Christians go to a special service. When they finish church, they have a big feast containing meat, eggs, and Fata (a lamb soup). “Baba Noël,” the equivalence of Santa, also brings gifts for children. [1]

Christmas is also very popular in Venezuela, and is always a big festivity. Traditional Christmas music is called “Gaita.” It is played on instruments such as a Cuatro (a four stringed guitar), Furro, and Tambora (drums). [1] My father Mark Benson spent two years in Venezuela and recalled a traditional Christmas commenting, “One of the more common ways people celebrated is they had a Cuatro. It is kind of a mix between a ukulele and a guitar.”

Hallaca is a popular Venezuelan Christmas food, wrapped in maize and plantain leaves [1]. Benson agreed, “The most famous thing you’ll see in Venezuela is people eating Hallaca… That is very traditional. Each area in Venezuela has their own traditions that they use. If you go to one part of the country, they will have different ingredients that they put in their Hallacas. But it’s only eaten during Christmas. Some places have egg, some places have onion, olives, it depends on where you go… The other thing they will have, they call it “Pan de Jamón,” or ham bread. It is a rolled bread with ham and other things.”

All over the world, listening to music, eating food, going to church, and exchanging presents are common methods for celebrating in the Christmas season.

Sophomore Jocelyn Baker stated, “I really get excited about eggnog, but honestly every holiday we get, I love deviled eggs! Deviled eggs are everything, I love them so much… Now that I am older I do less with presents, but I do more things to help the little kids, I like doing that.”

Junior Lilly Gish voiced that her favorite Christmas traditions included, “Home made sugar cookies, and matching pj’s for the whole family.”

Even if other countries celebrate the holiday differently, all Christmas traditions are special and meaningful in their own ways.


[1] https://www.whychristmas.com/cultures/belgium.shtml