Diversity in traditions Students share how they celebrate Christmas in their countries

Written and illustrated by Esther Insigne

America: Fresh Christmas trees and gingerbread houses

Melissa Nguyen Lumogdang, a senior from Ohio studying biochemistry, said her family always buys a real Christmas tree for Christmas and decorates it together with the family. A tradition they also have is called ‘The 12 Nights of Christmas’ where they leave gifts on the doorstep of families in their neighborhood.

The United States of America has a lot of traditions during Christmas time because it is populated by so many cultures. A traditions include: making gingerbread houses, caroling, and families decorating the outside of their homes with lights and statues of Santa and reindeers, according to whychristmas.com.

Churches in some areas have special Christmas events where they get members to join in a reenactment of the nativity scene.

Russia: Christmas celebrated in New Year

Anton Kruglyak, a sophomore from Russia studying computer science, said the New Year is bigger and more important compared to Christmas, for those in Russia.

Kruglyak explained, “In Russia, we celebrate Christmas on Jan. 7 the same way as how they celebrate [Christmas] in the [United] States on Dec. 25. We decorate Christmas trees and we have presents.

According to whychristmas.com, some people fast on Christmas Eve and don’t eat until they see the first star in the sky. Then people eat a porridge called sochivo or kutia that is made from wheat or rice and is served with honey, poppy seeds, and fruits.

Children in some areas will also go caroling around houses in their neighborhoods to wish people a happy New Year. In return, the children are given money, cookies, or sweets.

Philippines: Christmas starts in September

Sariah Villalon, a junior from the Philippines studying biochemistry, shared that the Philippines start to prepare for Christmas when the -ber months (September, October, November, December) come. She explained that on Sept. 1, people start putting up decorations and start blasting Christmas music everywhere.

One Christmas traditions in the Philippines is called the parol. According to whychristmas.com, a parol is a lantern in the shape of a star made with a wooden frame. The parol is a representation of the star that guided the wise men to Jesus.

Another Filipino Christmas tradition is the Noche Buena. Noche Buena is a feast that Filipinos usually have on Christmas Eve, and it is a time where friends and families gather and share all the food they prepared for the occasion, according to thespruceeats.com.

Food like hamon [ham], and queso de bola [cheese], pancit, fried chicken, and spaghetti are some of the popular dishes prepared during the Christmas season.

Indonesia: Christmas carols around the neighborhood

Dhika Naraputraka, a sophomore from Indonesia studying marketing, said his family likes to gather for the holidays. One of the things they usually do is hold a family home evening every Christmas Eve. He said, “In my family, on Christmas day, we read scriptures, focusing on Jesus Christ’s birth, and [we] pray as a family. [We] listen and watch the talks from prophets and apostles too.”

“[We] also do Christmas caroling [around] our neighborhood, including the people who are not members, maybe to Muslims or other religions,” shared Naraputraka.

In Indonesia, Christmas trees and colorful lights surround shopping malls in the country. Despite Indonesia being populated by more Muslims than Christians, Christians still celebrate Christmas. There are Christmas themed concerts and an annual Christmas celebration is held by the Indonesian government, which is then broadcasted nationwide, according to whychristmas.com.

Tonga: Family-centered Christmas

Sesika Faanunu, a junior from Tonga studying accounting, said Christmas is one of the biggest holidays in Tonga. She said, “It’s mostly about family. On Christmas, we make food, we visit all our families and relatives, and eat with them.”

Faanunu said they do not usually give gifts because they spend their time catching up with family. She and her family prepare traditional food such as lu sipi, ota ika, yams, and cakes for Christmas.

One of the traditions they have in Tonga is the tutukupakanava, which is the lining up of coconut husks, setting them up along the beach and lighting them on fire, which from a distance looks like Christmas lights, according to agchurches.org

Japan: The connection between KFC and Christmas

Will Kawamura, a senior from Japan studying peacebuilding, said, during Christmas, she and her family would eat dinner together, sometimes join the ward caroling, and have fun at the Christmas party the church organizes.

Kawamura also said during December, a lot of Kentucky Fried Chicken, commonly known as KFC, commercials are played on televisions in Japan. Her parents sometimes bought chicken for the family and she said the Japanese started associating KFC with Christmas.

According to Business Insider, there are not a lot of Christmas traditions in Japan because there were not a lot of people who practiced Christianity. So KFC started promoting their brand in the 1970s with the message, “At Christmas, you eat chicken.”

The tradition became so big that nowadays, people are told to plan and order their meals in advance, so they would not have to wait in line for hours.

Created By
Esther Insigne


Created with images by Arun Kuchibhotla - "Decorating the Tree" • Kieran White - "Starting To Feel Like Christmas" • Pexels - "new year's eve sparkler sylvester" • Thomas Kelley - "Christmas In L.A." • stevepb - "angel christmas decoration ornament singing choir christmas" • JerzyGorecki - "crib dominicans christmas holidays the holy family" • Chilam Siu - "HONGKONGsomewhere"

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