How Much Food Should A 1 Year Old Eat Australia Christmas – Unique Celebrations & Traditions in Alaska, Africa & Australia!

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Christmas – Unique Celebrations & Traditions in Alaska, Africa & Australia!

Christmas is an event celebrated in many countries of the world. There are three countries here, Alaska, Africa and Australia, all located in very different regions of the world and each with their own unique traditions and celebrations. These are some of its fascinating traditions and celebrations.

Alaska – “Carrying the Star” is a traditional Christmas procession. Small and large wear tinsel-decorated wheels with eight spokes, usually as large as umbrellas. They stand out with a central image of an angel or the nativity scene. They are driven for three nights from January 7 on roads covered with icy snow. The stars represent the angels who announced the birth of Christ. Families lovingly hold the stars. Some are over a hundred years old!

Africa – There are approximately 350 million Christians in Africa who celebrate Christmas. The emphasis is more on religious celebrations of the birth of Christ than on gifts. Although the most common gift (if not the most) is new clothes to be worn to the church service. People in many countries in Africa such as the Central African Republic (CAR), Uganda, Kenya and the Democratic Republic of the Congo believe that it is essential to attend church on Christmas Day, even if they never attend the rest of the year . An annual Christmas pageant and carol groups singing carols within the villages are now part of the festivities.

Churches in Africa begin many months before the intense preparations for Christmas. No one escapes the feeling of Christmas as it has been said that it feels like the whole country is preparing for the birth of the baby Jesus with such joyful and active community preparation! The streets are full of music, as well as on the radio, TV and almost everywhere you look! People joyfully visit their friends and family in the spirit of communal celebration, regardless of religious persuasion. It is common to see brightly colored and decorated trucks, cars, and buses, as well as homes, schools, churches, and neighborhoods that often boast creative festive displays made of colorful crepe paper. Colorful and alive with joyful celebration is Africa! The ancient and spectacular masquerades locally called “Agugu” now play an important role in Christmas celebrations. Usually, after the Christmas Eve service, there is a merry procession of dancing and music through the streets led by local bands with masqueraders (usually young boys dressed in fancy and colorful costumes) and Christmas revelers. People parade with large, intricately made lanterns called “fanals” usually in the shape of houses or boats.

In Ghana, Christmas dinner is not complete without fufu (a thick meal-like dough) and okra soup, and in Liberia, rice, beef and biscuits are the order of the day. Zimbabweans make sure there is plenty of bread, jam and tea to go with their prized goat meat, which is their traditional Christmas roast. On the west coast of Africa, most homes have an oil palm for a Christmas tree.

Austria – Saint Nicholas is widely honored and appears on his feast day on December 6. In Austria this is a different holiday than Christmas. He appears in his traditional robes of flowing robes and a tall bishop’s miter carrying a shepherd’s staff and a thick book. Children’s good and bad deeds are believed to be recorded in their book! It used to be tradition to hold an elaborate Christmas Eve ceremony where Saint Nicholas and the fearsome Ruprecht (a demonic creature, wearing fur, with glowing eyes and a long red tongue) both appear on Christmas Eve. The children gather and sing a hymn to welcome the Saint. Then, one by one, the children join the Saint at a family table where he goes through their lesson books and asks them to repeat a prayer he says. This ends with the kids kissing their bishops ring as he tells them to go put their shoes outside and watch them when the clock strikes ten! Ruprecht is at the door watching the children’s every move! Before Saint Nicholas leaves he blesses the children while sprinkling them with holy water and leaves quietly and quickly. Then the children with great excitement rush to put their shoes outside the house. At the stroke of ten children run into the street to find their shoes full of apple and nut treats!

Austria is a predominantly Catholic country known as the land of the sound of music and the home of Mozart, Strauss and Schubert. Christmas celebrations include the “Advent Concert Series” in Innsbruck. It features groups of familiar singers and instrumentalists similar to the famous “Trapp Family” from “The Sound of Music.” Another famous Christmas celebration is in Salzburg, where the most popular ticket of the season is for the “Salburger Adventsingen”. It is a program of Advent music and popular tradition that began more than half a century ago. They receive over 100,000 applications each year for the precious 30,000 tickets available for entry. Carp fish is served for the traditional Christmas dinner.

Austria is famous for its miniature crib figures. Almost every family has a nursery with miniature figures of the Holy Family and often some animals are included. Many nurseries are hundreds of years old, precious heirlooms passed down from one generation to the next!

Austrian Epiphany Celebrations: On Epiphany Day (which remembers the Magi from the East who were looking for the newborn Jesus) children dress up in Eastern clothes and sing traditional songs. They move from house to house and receive small gifts, including gifts of money. They carry a lantern called “the lighted star of Bethlehem” to guide them on their way. It is popular to see people plastering the initials of the wise men “CMB” (Casper, Melchior, Balthasar) on their door jambs!

Austria’s fun Krampus Day tradition: In Salzburg, December 5th is known as Krampus Day. Krampus is believed to be an evil spirit. He usually dresses in terrifying skin, wears deer horns, a mask with a long red tongue and bulging red eyes, and carries a birch rod. He storms down the street with a loud rumble using huge bells and jingling chains as he screams menacingly at onlookers. Thousands, including many children, crowd the streets to watch the medieval event. With much laughter and glee, whenever children and adults see Krampus, they throw snowballs at this menacing figure. The town holds a “Krampus Run” every year with fun and lots of teasing, punching and laughing. It is said that the purpose of Krampus is to remind children to be good!

In recent times, in some communities, Krampus actors are required to wear a number so that they can be identified under their masks in case they lose control. It is known that some get carried away after drinking too much brandy or beer. A prominent Austrian child psychiatrist has defended the Krampus ban. He suggests it’s “a jolly old scare” for children. However, there have been few known cases of “Krampus trauma”!

Australia: Christmas falls in the middle of summer and the heat can exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s common for people to have outdoor barbecues for the main Christmas party and parks and beaches are often alive with family celebrations. It’s not unusual to see thongs, shorts, a beer in hand and a Santa hat on the head chef (usually the father of a family) at the Christmas Day BBQ, which is almost always followed by the most beloved desert from Australia, “Pavlova”. It is as light and delicate as Anna Pavlova, the famous Russian dancer for whom it is named.

Australian Carols by Candlelight – an Australian carol service started in 1937 by radio broadcaster Norman Banks. Famous performers come together to sing at ‘Carols by Candlelight’ held in Melbourne every year. A very popular annual event televised across the country. The carols are performed on a stage in front of a large audience where thousands of people attend in the open air with lit candles.

Beach Visits on Christmas Day in Australia – Up to 40,000 people visit Sydney’s Bondi Beach on Christmas Day! It’s the middle of summer in Australia and with heat levels rising, BBQ lunches on the beach and swimming are popular while waiting for Father Christmas to arrive by boat on Christmas Day!

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