Christmas Around the World – Maria Stoica

university of reading foxhill house in the snow

Ah yes! It’s that time of the year again. Towns are starting to put up their colourful lights, all the shop windows on Oxford Street are getting more and more extravagant, John Lewis is working on their long-waited ad and you are stuck inside with your aunts and uncles, grandmas and grandpas debating whether Morrisons or Marks and Spencer’s have the best pigs in blankets. Yeah, you guessed it, IT’S CHRISTMAS TIME. So excited to hear Mariah Carey and Wham! everyday, non-stop, for every hour and second of the day.  However, have you ever thought that these are just things Brits do and no one else does? I, for one, have always been fascinated about what different countries do every year for Christmas and will share what I’ve found with you here:


 My family’s Romanian which means we do Christmas totally differently. For example, we have two Santas. St Nicholas which comes on the 5th of December and brings “nice” children sweets and toys and “naughty” children a twig. Santa Clause however comes on the 25th and we leave cookies and milk for him to eat since him and Rudolf are hungry. I’m from southern Romania meaning traditions aren’t as strong as they are in the northern part of the country, however something I love is carol singers who enchant the house every year. 


Similarly, in Poland there is also St Nicholas and preparing the food is an art in itself since it starts a few days before Christmas. The main traditional food is uszka according to my boyfriend it means little ears, however for Christmas 12 meals are meant to be prepared which symbolise the 12 disciples of Jesus. In Poland people also fast for a period meaning they do not eat meat until Christmas Day. This is similar to Romania where people would fast by eating vegan for 40 days prior to Christmas.


In Brazil, the celebrations take place on the 24th instead of on the 25th . This is when people go to mass for a few hours, there are stories about Jesus as well as children dressing up as Biblical Characters and re-enacting the birth of Jesus. Preparations for the Christmas meal also must be done in advance, and this is usually consumed on the night of the 24th after people come back from mass. Pomegranate is the star of the show since this is eaten on the day of Christmas so people can have good luck for the rest of the year.  

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