Winter Holidays: An International Perspective

Writer: Keta Kokhatshvili

Editor: Mariia Lysikova

Photos provided by Unsplash creators.

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People all over the world have their ways of celebrating the New Year and Christmas, and while for some countries, the Winter Holidays are close to an end, some parts of the world are still anticipating the most memorable celebrations of the year. Following Christmas, traditionally celebrated on December 25th, we explored some of the other interesting traditions that LCC students celebrate as a part of their versatile cultures.

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Raminta Vengalytė lived in Spain for a long time, and she shares her favorite local traditions with us. According to Raminta, Christmas generally is celebrated in the family circle and, then, after spending Christmas Eve with them, one might go to a party with their friends and exchange gifts. 

Some people go to the town's square and wait for the clock to ring the twelve bells indicating the transition to the next day and year. She mentioned that traditionally, when those twelve bells ring, people eat grapes, one per ring, since it is supposed to give good luck.

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 "People in general dress up nicely for events and Christmas and new year are not exceptions. While I was growing up, people tend to say that wearing red underwear during the new year is a good omen/sign," shared Raminta.

Valeria Nazarova tells us that in Ukraine, Christmas is celebrated on 7th January instead of the 25th of December, and for Holy evening they serve the table with twelve dishes which represent the twelve Apostles. One of the most important dishes is grain pudding which is called Kutia. She says that on this day, people walk around in the neighborhood singing Christmas songs while holding a special star and wearing costumes. They visit houses in the neighborhood, sign traditional songs blessing the household, and get sweets from the people in return.

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Tomiris Zhunisbekova explains that in Kazakhstan, not everyone celebrates Christmas since it is an Islamic country; however, the New Year is a huge celebration. According to her, since childhood, people have been celebrating the New Year in the family circle and they have a tradition of cooking special meals. After midnight and fireworks, they usually go and visit their friends and spend the entire night celebrating with them.

Alyssa Olson lives in Germany. She says that in Germany they have advent calendars. Mostly, they are small boxes of chocolate or a collection of gifts that are given to kids to count every single day from December 1 to 24th. They also celebrate saint Nicholas day on the 6th of December when kids leave their boots out overnight to be filled with nuts, fruits, chocolate, and Grittibänz (a gingerbread cookie that resembles a person) by Saint Nicolas. Christmas is celebrated on the 24th of December with typical Christmas tree and gifts, families go to the church for Christmas eve service where they hear the story of Jesus, and the evening ends with the song Silent Night. On New Year's eve families get together to have a party and shoot as many fireworks as they can.

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We all might have our understanding of those celebrations, but in the end, all of them are about sharing love and happiness with each other.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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