Around the globe, societies band together and celebrate special occasions in truly unique ways. Although many people celebrate various holidays in their own special ways, the differences are particularly evident when comparing the holiday traditions associated with Christmas and New Year.
Since Christmas derives from Christianity, many countries embrace the religious aspects of this holiday while also adding unique touches.
Christmas celebrations in Madagascar are similar to those in the Unites States. Many families take the time to attend church services. There is often a gift exchange among family members, but it tends to be less emphasized than in the United States.
Traditional celebrations also bring family members together for a festive and hearty meal of chicken or pork. The meal is frequently served with rice and followed by a decadent cake. As poinsettias are the national emblem of the country, traveling to Madagascar means you will see them year round, but especially during the holidays.
Although much of the Chinese population does not self-identify as Christian, many Chinese citizens celebrate the holiday with similar Western traditions.
Chinese celebrations often include hanging decorations, sending cards, exchanging gifts, and hanging up stockings. This attitude reflects an interest in the Western traditions.
Many Christmas traditions derive from Great Britain, so the caroling, nativity plays and Christmas tree decorations will all seem familiar when traveling to Great Britain for the holidays. However, the nation adds to this ambiance with church services conducted by candlelight only and city-wide celebrations.
Rather than laying out cookies and milk, British children leave Father Christmas mince pies and brandy. Families feast on turkey, vegetables, stuffing, bacon, sausages, cranberry sauce, and bread sauce, similar to Thanksgiving celebrations in the United States.
The Philippines are known for having one of the longest Christmas seasons with carols beginning as early as the beginning of September. However, the season officially begins with the Gift Masses and other services of Catholic origin. If you plan to travel to the Philippines for Christmas, expect to also indulge in a massive feast, known as the Noche Buena, of roasted pig, ham, and fruit.
THE NEW YEAR
While not every country recognizes the same calendar, most have unique ways to celebrate the New Year. Outside of the United States, many New Year's traditions are meant to bring good luck and even better fortune.
If you travel to China on the New Year, plan on seeing red. Red symbolizes happiness and good fortune, so Chinese residents paint the front door of their homes with this festive color. They also have a large feast and even larger country-wide celebrations to welcome the New Year.
Brazilians serve food items that contain lentils, which are a sign of wealth and prosperity. Priestesses adorn themselves in blue and white for a water goddess celebration. Others wear white, which signifies good luck for the New Year.
Every year, a boat is launched from Rio de Janeiro full of jewelry, flowers, and candles in exchange for receiving wealth, health, and happiness in the New Year. If you decide to travel to Brazil for New Year celebrations, be sure to take part in the tradition of throwing flowers into the sea and making a wish on them.
Residents of the Philippines take part in many traditions designed to rein in good luck for the New Year. For example, they open all of their doors and windows on New Year's Eve so that all negative energy can leave the home and be replaced with positive energy.
The world around you has many unique experiences to offer. Luxury tours are the perfect way to submerse yourself into the different celebrations around the world.