In Part III of the “Celebrations around the world” series, TNN takes a look at how different countries celebrated the birth of Jesus.
Though Christians make up around two percent of the population, many people celebrate Christmas in India. It has become an integral part of the Indian tradition of fairs and festivals. And because fir trees are not common in India, mango or banana trees are often decorated instead. Large star-shaped paper lanterns are also very popular decorations. In metropolitan cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai, Christmas Festival has assumed secular overtones and is joyfully celebrated by people of all religions and communities.
People light candles outside the Sacred Heart Cathedral in New Delhi (photo: rediff)
Celebrations begin on Christmas Eve and continue till New Year’s Day. The midnight mass is attended by people of all faiths followed by night-long festivities where traditional, homemade Christmas sweets are exchanged with family, friends, and neighbors on Christmas day.
A man dressed in a Santa Claus outfit waves at the crowd as he rides with balloons on a horse cart during Christmas celebrations in Mumbai (photo: rediff)
The Philippines, the largest Roman Catholic country in Asia, is known to have one of the longest and lavish Christmas celebrations in the world (from September until January). Even before December arrives, cities are shinning in colourful lights, songs are heard in malls and festivals are held across the Asian island nation. People decorate their homes with buntings, candles and wreaths. The most popular decoration there is the pah-role (a bamboo pole with a bright star on top). The pole represents the guiding star of Bethlehem. People also put numerous Christmas cards in the living room for family and friends.
The pole represents the guiding star of Bethlehem (photo: cnn)
Christmas in The Philippines (photo: trendsculture)
Celebrating a Filipino Christmas (photo: mic)
Even though only few Japanese people believe in Christ, they enjoy giving each other gifts, and this is the part they celebrate. During Christmas, many Japanese stores, malls and homes are decorated.
Christmas tree in Japan (photo: japanyay)
Christmas in Japan (photo: educationinjapan)
Christmas tree in Japan. Christmas is celebrated by an increasing number of non-Christians around the world
In Japan, a Buddhist monk called Hotei-osho acts like Santa Claus. He brings presents to each house and leaves them for the children. Some think he has eyes in the back of his head, so children try to behave like he is nearby.
Christmas in Japan (photo: travisajenkins)
It is a tradition to give presents two Sundays before 25 December. On that day, the children tie up their mum. She then has to pay a ransom in the form of gifts to be freed. The following Sunday the same happens with the dad.
People gather to receive a piece of traditional Christmas bread, marking the Orthodox Christmas Day festivities (photo: baltimoresun)
Christmas season brings out Irish festivities, reunions, celebrations at midnight mass, and week-long partying. One of Ireland’s many traditions is placing a lighted candle in the window on Christmas Eve to welcome Mary and Joseph in their biblical search for an inn.
Christmas Market in Ireland (photo: fanpop)
And instead of a glass of milk and cookies, Irish children leave mince pies and a bottle of Guinness as a snack for Santa.
In Lebanon, where over 30 percent of the population follows Christianity, Christmas is an anticipated affair every year. About two weeks before Christmas, Lebanese plant seeds of beans, lentils, and chickpeas in cotton wool. They kept watering the seeds every day until Christmas, and then place the shoots around the manger in nativity scenes or under the Christmas tree to signify the birth of Christ.
Celebrating Christmas in Lebanon (photo: mic)
Christmas decorations and fireworks in Zahle, Lebanon (photo: beirutnightlife)
People decorate their houses and malls with Nativity Cribs and also attend Midnight Mass across various churches in Lebanon. Beirut, being the capital city, is bedecked glamorously with lights, Christmas trees, hollies and poinsettias. Most youngsters are seen partying and Christmas is celebrated with friends, family and lots of merriment. Since the Lebanese are historically linked to France, their Santa Claus is known as Baba Noel.
Christmas in Lebanon (photo: skyscrapercity)