An International Christmas

An International Christmas

Level: Intermediate (B1)

Christmas Day will be marked next Friday on 25th December.

Christmas is an important festival for Christians. It celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ (hence Christmas) over 2000 years ago in a small village in modern-day Palestine. This seemingly everyday event has impacted major world religions, and the individual lives of countless people around the world and throughout history because of Jesus’s claims in the Bible. 

Nowadays, many people from lots of different religions use the time at the end of December for their own celebrations. Let’s look at six different ways Christmas is celebrated!

Christmas trees

An evergreen tree decorated with lights, candles, ribbons, beads, popcorn strings, baubles, topped with a star or angel is a common-place sight at this time of year. Prince Albert is credited with making this tradition popular outside of Germany in the 1800s. In many countries, you can go to a Christmas tree farm to choose and cut down your own tree. In Brazil, the world’s largest Christmas tree (made of out of a metal structure and covered with lights) stands at 85 metres tall!

The 1848 engraving of the royal family decorating a tree. HULTON ARCHIVE / GETTY IMAGES

Carolling

Religious songs about Christmas are called ‘carols’. In many countries, it’s common for groups of people to walk the streets singing carols (or ‘carolling’) to spread Christmas happiness and perhaps raise money for charities. New songs are being written each year, but many of the songs that are sung by carollers were written quite a long time ago! ‘Silent Night’ was composed over two hundred years ago in 1818!

Here are my personal top three Christmas carols!

 

Santa Claus

There are many different variations of the phenomenon known commonly as ‘Santa Claus’. Based on a real Christian church leader from Turkey in the 3rd century, St Nicholas, as he is called in England, is known for his generosity towards children. In many countries, children leave out shoes, socks or stockings for Father Christmas to fill with presents. 

Leaving shoes out for St Nicholas. Courtesy of gapyear.com

KFC

Christmas isn’t really celebrated as a religious festival in Japan as there isn’t the same history of Christianity in this country. Christmas Eve (the 24th of December) is thought of as a romantic day for couples to spend together and give presents. Young people like to go for walks to look at the Christmas lights and have a romantic meal of fried chicken. Fast-food restaurants, such as KFC, are particularly popular!

 

KFC for Christmas in Japan. Courtesy of amuse.vice.com

Christmas Logs

This year, one of our very own Ingla teachers introduced the Ingla Team to a Catalonian tradition that she grew up with. In Catalonia, they have a ‘Tió de Nadal’. This ‘Christmas Log’ is covered with a blanket to keep warm, and given food before Christmas day. Then children sing a special song and hit the log with sticks so that presents fall out!

 

Dinner

A special dinner, either before, or on Christmas Day is often the highlight of many people’s Christmas. Around the world, there are so many options of what dishes may be on the table – it’s impossible to name them all! 

However, for my family, this is what is on the menu – a roast turkey (the smell of which fills the whole house on Christmas morning!), a sticky glazed ham, several types of potatoes (we’re Irish!), carrots, peas, brussel sprouts (only eaten at this time of year), sausage and breadcrumb stuffing, sweet cranberry sauce, and litres of thick gravy. The table is decorated with special embroidered tablecloths and folded napkins arranged in the glasses. For all the delicious food that makes up my Christmas memories, it is the time to be with my family that is the most valuable part of this holiday for me. 

 

An Irish Christmas Dinner. Courtesy of stellar.ie

For most people, Christmas time is an opportunity to spend time with friends or family. It’s a chance to give tokens of love and appreciation to people who make our lives brighter. Finally, it’s a chance to remember what we are thankful for, and to consider our hopes for the year ahead. 

If you want to read more about Christmas traditions around the world, I recommend this website: https://www.whychristmas.com/ 

Match the definition below to the correct underlined word in the article. 

  1. (noun) a gift, an item 
  2. (verb) to write words for a song
  3. (noun) the best part of a certain time period
  4. (noun) what a person says to be true about something
  5. (adverb) apparently
  6. (noun) a remarkable event or custom
  7. (adjective) having decoration on it created by a needle and thread
  1. token
  2. composed (past participle of compose
  3. highlight 
  4. claims 
  5. seemingly 
  6. phenomenon 
  7. embroidered 
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