ALL AROUND THE WOLRD                                There are plenty of unique traditions and cultures observed during the festive season. (

ALL AROUND THE WOLRD There are plenty of unique traditions and cultures observed during the festive season. (

Variety of customs mark Christmas celebrations

International exchange students in Summerland enjoy many traditions for the holidays

By Andrew Mitchell

Before long the festivities will begin.

It’s that time of year again. Kids are out of school, parents are taking time off work, every store front and street light is covered with decorations, the ground is covered in an envelope of snow, and spirits are high.

In Canada, people are given time to partake in any traditions they wish with family or friends come Christmas Day, a staple of many of our lives.

Christmas is important to a lot of people, for many different reasons, all around the world.

In days of yore, Dec. 25 was chosen to mark the nativity of a name known around the world more than any other individual: Jesus Christ.

Culture and religion have shaped the way people around the world have celebrated the holiday since then.

This was apparent when hearing some high school exchange students from Japan, Germany, and Spain compare their time spent during Christmas back home.

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Germany, a country of many different regions with their own dialects and traditions, each have their own alias of Weihnachtsmann (Father Christmas the mythical present bearing saint) slightly different from the last. Few actually have something to do with the real Saint Nick born around 245 C.E. in the port city of Patara now known as Turkey. Some lucky kids get a Christmas teaser on Dec. 6 when the Pelznickel leaves goodies about.

At one point in the past, due to the predominant divide between Catholic and Protestants in the country, a Protestant reformist in an attempt to reduce the significance of Sankt Nikolaus introduced “das Christkind,” a young girl with Christlike qualities that children would write to and receive gifts from similar to Santa Claus.

Christmas trees have a particularly important place in most German homes this time of year. This affixation likely had something to do with the spawning of the classic carol, O Tannenbaum, which translates to O Christmas Tree.

On Jan. 6 in Spain, presents are opened during a celebration known as the Epiphany which takes place shortly after the Día de los santos inocentes, a day when the Spanish trick one another much like April Fools Day.

Like most Spanish countries, many people attend midnight mass Christmas Eve, eating lots before the service.

The mass lasts long into the night, families gather and sing songs to celebrate the life of the Son of God.

In Japan, a country that doesn’t recognize the holiday as statutory, Christmas is associated with love and is comparable to Valentine’s Day here in Canada. There are no religious connotations like in Europe or the West.

Once Christmas has passed preparations begin for the momentous annual festival New Years.

There is no definitive way of going about celebrating this holiday.

It is always a joyous occasion.

Andrew Mitchell is a Summerland Secondary School student.