Ta Chiu in Hong Kong
Those in Hong Kong pray to the gods and ghosts of their ancestors asking that they will fulfill wishes for the next year. Priests read aloud the names of every person living at the celebration and attach a list of names to a paper horse and set it on fire. The smoke carries the names up to the gods and the living will be remembered.
Christmas in France
In France, Christmas is called Noel. And though there are many similarities to Christmas in the U.S., you’ll find a number of key differences. A figure called Pere Noel, father of Christmas, makes home visits with gifts. On Christmas Eve, children leave their shoes by a fireplace that will be filled with the gifts. In the morning, they awake to find fruits, nuts and small toys. Nearly every home has a Nativity Scene, which serves as the focal point of decoration and celebration, just as the Christmas tree does in U.S. homes.
Christmas in Alaska
Christmas traditions in Alaska are similar to the rest of the Unites States, but there are a few unique differences that make an Alaskan Christmas special. For example, children go caroling with a long pole topped by a colored star. Songs sung in the home often include the Aleut words “Gristuusaaq suu’uq,” which means “Christ is born.” The closing words, “Mnogaya leta,” means, “God grant you many years.” Treats may include cookies, doughnuts, and cake, as well as fish pie called piruk and smoked salmon.
St. Stephen’s Day in Ireland
Christmas festivities in Ireland tend to be more religious in nature than about simple fun. Christmas celebrations last from Christmas Eve until January 6th (Epiphany). On the 26th, St. Stephen’s Day, an Irish tradition that is known as the Wren Boys Procession takes place. Children go from door to door singing, holding a stick that is topped by a holly bush and a wren. They ask for money for the “starving wren,” which goes into their pockets. In ancient times, a real wren was killed and fastened to the stick, but today fake wrens are used.
Sviata Vechera in the Ukraine
The Christmas Eve festivities in the Ukraine are known as Sviata Vechera, which means “Holy Supper.” The celebration begins when the first evening star is sighted in the night sky. In farming communities, the household head brings in a sheaf of wheat which symbolizes the wheat crops of Ukraine. It is called “didukh,” which translates to “grandfather spirit.” In homes within the city, a few stalks of wheat may be used to decorate the table.