At every moment right now, everywhere on the globe, billions of people are making their holiday preparations and plans, keeping the traditions of their culture alive. During this season of merrymaking, let’s take look at holiday customs celebrated on each of Earth’s continents – with a special assistance from our Puzzle Globe and Buddy Builders!
Joyeux Noël, France!
More than 66 million people live in France, a country located on the continent of Europe. On Christmas Eve, children put their shoes out near the fireplace in the hopes that Père Noël (Santa Claus) will fill the shoes with gifts. It is no surprise with all the delicious French food that most of the holiday is centered around the Christmas Eve meal, or “Le Réveillon”. Sometimes the Christmas Eve dinner will go late into the night – maybe past midnight! Those who prep for such grand meal spend lots of time at the holiday markets – open-air shopping experiences for food pop up in major cities across France during holiday time.
Shubh Deepavali, India!
Located within the continent of Asia, India is home 1.32 billion people. Diwali is the a colorful, light-filled feast for the eyes, celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs, and Buddhists, both in India and around the world. Typically falling between mid-October and mid-November, Diwali is the triumph of good over evil, or light over darkness. It is the time of year to wear new clothes, visit friends and family, and share food, gifts, and sweets, all held over the span of five days. Homes are colorfully decorated and candles are lit to celebrate the light. And what better way to bring in the light than fireworks! Amazing pyrotechnic shows captivate India cities during the nights of Diwali.
Happy Hanukkah, United States!
The United States, situated in the middle of the continent of North America, blends lots of cultures and traditions. Millions of Jewish people in the U.S. celebrate Hanukkah, or “Festival of Lights”. Reciting prayers, lighting a menorah with candlelight, and eating lots of traditional food stretch for eight nights during Hanukkah. Kids play games with a dreidel, a spinning top marked with letters in Hebrew. They also exchange gifts and sing songs. Traditional food for Jewish families are latkes, a type of yummy potato pancakes topped with applesauce or sour cream.
Nkwagaliza Sekukkulu, Uganda!
In Uganda, an inland country within the continent of Africa, Christmas is referred to as Sekukkulu. Held over December 24 and 25, this holiday is about food and family. Many food traditions are centered around chicken, which is often wrapped in banana leaves to steam it, giving it a special flavor this time of year. There is far less emphasis on giving gifts during Sekukkulu, rather an emphasis on sharing food and time with family and friends. However, new clothes, especially for children, are important part when stepping out to church on this holiday.
Feliz Navidad, Venezuela!
Christmas time in the country of Venezuela, located on the continent of South America, is a very joyous and religious time, lasting nearly a month! Like many families across the world, Venezuelans’ big celebration is on the night of Christmas Eve, where all go to church to celebrate the birth of Jesus. The center of many household decorations this time surprisingly not a Christmas tree, rather a pesebre, or nativity scene depicting the manger in Bethlehem. And in Venezuela on Christmas morning, most roads are closed off for the holiday. Many take to foot to head to church, being awoken by bells or firecrackers to signify the start of the celebration.
Merry Christmas, Australia!
Australia, both a continent and country, is located in Earth’s southern hemisphere. Grab the sunscreen because it is actually summertime in Australia during the holidays! Since Australians love to be outside, Christmas Day is typically spent at the beach, swimming or sailing. When Australians head out to sing their traditional “Carols by Candlelight”, they often change the traditional lyrics about snow and cold to fit their climate. The Aussies also celebrate Boxing Day on December 26, a day to recoup from the holiday, and to shop major sales from local retailers.
Happy New Year, Antarctica!
Antarctica, otherwise known as the South Pole (the literal polar opposite of where Santa hangs his hat), is the southern most point in the entire world. It also is the locale of the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, home to nearly 200 scientific researchers. To ring in each New Year, the scientists go out in the tundra and physically adjust the marker for the Geographic South Pole, to pinpoint the Earth’s axis of rotation. Because the South Pole itself sits onto of a sheet of ice, it moves about 30 feet every year. All the world’s flags involved in the South Pole Station surround it. What a way to ring in the New Year!
Sources: mentalfloss.com, aljazeera.com, history.com, thoughtco.com, thelocal.fr, kids.nationalgeographic.com, worldholidaytraditions.com, tripsavvy.com