Christmas Time

Quentin Postlewaite, Contributor

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 Many people look at Christmas as a vacation and a time to be with your family to give them presents to show how much you care and love them, but what some people don’t know is that Christmas is actually the birthday of Jesus Christ. The New Testament says that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, in accordance with messianic prophecies. When Joseph and Mary arrived in the city, the inn had no room and so they were offered a stable where the Christ Child was soon born, with angels proclaiming this news to shepherds who then further disseminated the information.

When it comes to Christmas traditions America has adopted several. One tradition that is fairly new is the Elf on the Shelf. My family has been doing this for a couple years and it is fun to watch my little brother and my cousins search every crack and crevice in the morning to try and find it. Some of the others include the mistletoe which is the international sign of peace, goodwill and love. Christmas bells go all the way back to ancient pagan winter festivals. At the time, bells were rung to ward off evil spirits. A big one that we do not even think about is the Christmas wreath, and the Christmas tree.

If you were to go to the Philippines you could see the Giant Lantern Festival which is called Ligligan Parul Sampernandu there, but it is held each year on the Saturday before Christmas Eve in the city of San Fernando. The festival attracts spectators from all over the country and across the globe. Villages take part in the festival and competition is fierce as everyone pitches in trying to build the most elaborate lantern. Originally, the lanterns were simple creations about a yard in diameter and lit by candle. Today, the lanterns are made from a variety of materials and have grown to around six meters in size. They are illuminated by electric bulbs that sparkle in a kaleidoscope of patterns.

Since 1966, in Gavle Goat, Sweden, a 43 ft tall yule goat has been built in the center of Gavle’s Castle Square for the advent, but unfortunately people compete to see who can burn it down. Since 1966 the goat has been successfully burned down 29 times.

A new tradition has raised in Japan. Christmas has never been a big deal in Japan. Aside from a few small, secular traditions such as gift-giving and light displays, Christmas remains largely a novelty in the country. However, a new traditions has emerged in recent years, and it has to deal with KFC chicken –a Christmas day feast of the Colonel’s very own Kentucky Fried Chicken.

In Germany they celebrate Saint Nicholas’ Day. Not to be confused with Weihnachtsmann (Father Christmas), Nikolaus travels by donkey in the middle of the night on December 6 and leaves little treats like coins, chocolate, oranges and toys in the shoes of good children all over Germany, and particularly in the Bavarian region, St. Nicholas also visits children in schools or at home and in exchange for sweets or a small present each child must recite a poem, sing a song, or draw a picture. In short, he’s a good guy, but it isn’t always fun and games. St. Nick often brings along Knecht Ruprecht. A devil- like character dressed in dark clothes covered with bells and a dirty beard, Knecht Ruprecht carries a stick or a small whip in hand to punish any children who misbehave.

Now we have the Lighting of the National Hanukkah Menorah, in Washington, D.C. The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah is celebrated with much fanfare across the United States with one of the most elaborate events taking place on a national stage. Since 1979, a giant 30 ft tall menorah has been raised on the White House grounds for the eight days and nights of Hanukkah. The ceremony in Washington, D.C. is marked with speeches, music, activities for kids, and the lighting of the menorah.