Madagascar is an Island off the east coast of Africa, so it is very warm at Christmas time! Even though it’s hot, common decorations include holly, robins and snow even though none of them exist in Madagascar! The official language of Madagascar is Malagasy. ‘Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year’ in Malagasy is ‘Mirary Krismasy sambatra sy Taona vaovao tonga lafatra ho anao’. Happy/Merry Christmas in lots more languages.
At Christmas time in Lithuania it is very cold, normally with snow and ice on the ground. Christmas Eve (Kūčios) is a more important day than Christmas Day. Kūčios is also the name of the big Christmas Eve meal which families have together during the evening of Christmas Eve. Kūčios is also the last day of Advent, so it is important and special.
In Lebanon, 35% of the population follow a form of Christianity called Maronite Catholic. These Christians build manger scenes in their homes called a Nativity Crib. The crib is more popular than a Christmas Tree. It’s traditional for the scene to be based around a cave rather than a stable. It’s often decorated with sprouted seeds such as chickpeas, broad-beans, lentils, oats and wheat that have been grown on damp cotton wool in the weeks leading up to Christmas. The crib scene then becomes a focus for the prayer of people in the house.
Christmas in Kazakhstan is almost always snowy, as it snows for around four months of the year during the winter. About 70% of people in Kazakhstan are Muslims, so Christmas isn’t a big holiday and 25th December is a day just like any other day. This means the shops are open, the public transport is running and everyone is at work.
Christmas is not widely celebrated in Japan as not many people there are Christians. However, several customs have come to Japan from the USA such as sending and receiving Christmas Cards and Presents. In Japan, Christmas in known as more of a time to spread happiness rather than a religious celebration. Christmas eve is often celebrated more than Christmas Day. Christmas eve is thought of as a romantic day, in which couples spend together and exchange presents. In many ways it resembles Valentine’s Day celebrations in the UK and the USA. Young couples like to go for walks to look at the Christmas lights and have a romantic meal in a restaurant – booking a table on Christmas Eve can be very difficult as it’s so popular!
Christmas is a very special time in Jamaica and like a lot of other countries, radio stations play carols all through the Christmas period. Lots of people paint their houses and hang new curtains and decorations for Christmas. Most families spend Christmas Day at home with friends and family members.
One of the most important ways of celebrating Christmas in Italy is the Nativity crib scene. Using a crib to help tell the Christmas story was made very popular by St. Francis of Assisi in 1223 (Assisi is in mid-Italy). The previous year he had visited Bethlehem and saw where the stable, where it was thought that Jesus was born. A lot of Italian families have a Nativity crib in their homes.
In Ireland, people celebrate Christmas in much the same way as people in the UK and the USA, but they also have many of their own Christmas traditions and customs. Christmas for Irish people, who are Catholics, lasts from Christmas Eve to the feast of Epiphany on January 6th, which some Irish people call ‘Little Christmas’. Epiphany isn’t now widely celebrated in Ireland.
Although most people in Indonesia (about 85%) are Muslims, about 10% of the population are Christians – that’s still about 20 million people! Indonesian Christians love to celebrate Christmas! Indonesian Christians usually go to church services on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. In most churches and cathedrals, people create nativity scenes and use them as part of the Nativity drama performance.