Discovering: Merry Christmas Around the World

HOHOHOHO.. We are here once again to celebrate a lovely joyable Christmas at the end of December, in such a particularly strange year.

At Christmas time, all Christians over the world celebrate a feast and meditate with prayers in commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ. This year, Christians could pray to bring health and hope to everyone.

Traditional Christmas decorations can often be admired around cities and villages in most countries, even in those where Christianity is not the religion of the majority of people. Christmas trees are so popular in homes and streets around the world as a cultural tradition.

Yazyk has many clients around the world so let’s highlight some characteristics of Christmas traditions that caught my attention:

  • French Christmas Eve Meal is called “le révellion”, which is a big and long feast for the whole family to gather together. The name comes from the verb “se réveiller”, to wake up or revive.
  • Spanish love their nativity scenes and many towns display a public one, some of them stage a living “belén” with real actors and real animals.
  • An uniquely Italian tradition is the figure of an old woman called “Befana” who brings gifts on Epiphany Eve. Legend says The Three Wise Men came to her house and invited her to join the search for Christ. She was too busy with housework so she declined, but she regretted it and changed her mind and to this day, she is still searching for the child, leaving presents for any good children.
  • Each single Portuguese Christmas table goes with a “Bolo-Rei”. A Bolo-Rei is a round shaped sweet, with a hole in its middle, topped with crystalized fruits and nuts inside. It is consumed between Christmas and Three Wise Men Day, which happens on January 8.
  • Many Germans display a traditional wooden Christmas pyramid in their living room. This pyramid is a little carousel with angels and a nativity scene which stands on several levels and spin.
  • While many Americans put up Christmas trees around Thanksgiving, Christmas trees aren’t put up in the Netherlands until after Sinterklaas on December 5 when children receive presents.
  • The Mexican celebration of Christmas is called “las posadas” and begins on December 16. The children lead a procession to the church and place a figure of the Christ Child in the “nacimiento” or nativity scene there.
  • In Chinese, Christmas Eve is called Ping’an Ye 平(píng)安(ān)夜(yè), which translates to peaceful or quiet evening. This name originates from the carol Silent Night, which in Chinese is called exactly that; 平安夜. The word for apple in Mandarin Chinese is 苹(píng)果(guǒ), which sounds like 平(píng)安(ān) – the Chinese word for peace. The Chinese have combined these two terms into 平(píng)安(ān)果(guǒ), , meaning peace apples and begun gifting apples to friends, colleagues and teachers on this day. These Christmas Eve peace apples aren’t regular apples, however. Eating one of these on Christmas Eve is supposed to bring you a safe and peaceful new year.

As languages are so important nowadays, let’s start teaching you how to wish Merry Christmas in some languages:

  • French: Joyeux Noël
  • German: Frohe Weihnachten
  • Spanish: Feliz Navidad
  • Italian: Buon Natale
  • Portuguese: Feliz Natal
  • Dutch: Vrolijk Kerstfeest
  • Swedish: God Jul
  • Chinese: 圣诞节快乐 (Shèngdàn jié kuàilè)

How to say “Happy New Year”:

  • French: Bonne Année
  • German: Gutes Neues Jahr
  • Spanish: Feliz Año Nuevo
  • Italian: Felice Anno Nuovo
  • Portuguese: Feliz Ano Novo
  • Dutch: Gelukkig nieuwjaar
  • Chinese: 新年快乐 (Xīnnián kuàilè)

Merry Christmas in the name of the Yazyk team and thank you kindly for your constant interest throughout a year that has been difficult for us all. Enjoy and relax during this holiday season! Nice time to read a Nativity book to understand more the story behind Christmas traditions and celebrations.