Christmas is celebrated around the world and in many different cultures. Here is a short list of different ways that Christmas is celebrated around the world:
- On 6 January, the three wise men come to visit and also leave gifts for the children. (Spain)
- Children sometimes leave their shoes out instead of stockings. (Mexico)
- On Christmas Eve, a bowl of porridge, “nisse,” is left in the barn for the gnome who protects the farm. (Norway)
- Churches are decorated with balloons, ribbons, flowers, and green plants as well as Christmas trees. (Kenya)
- At Christmas dinner, a plum pudding is served with little treasures hidden inside that bring their finders good luck. (Britain)
- Christmas dinner is eaten outdoors and is followed by a visit to the beach or a game of cricket. (Australia)
- Children decorate their Christmas lists with pictures and then leave them on the windowsill overnight, weighed down with a little sugar so they won’t be missed by Father Christmas. (Germany)
At the core of the Christmas season is the idea of giving gifts. This is based on the fact that God gave the ultimate gift to the world in his son Jesus. Over the last century or so that idea has been commercialized in many parts of the world, and some of the story is lost in all the Christmas paper and toys under the Christmas tree.
What you will find however in cultural Christmas celebrations around the world is still the core reason for celebration – that God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son. During this Christmas season we are encouraged to celebrate God’s gift by giving gifts to each other. The toys and other gifts we buy from the stores are a way of showing our love, but along with them we should try to give gifts that are not just from us but also of us, gifts that are not just “presents” but also gifts that “present” our love to those around us. These can come in the form of time, effort, or other personal sacrifice. For example:
- a certificate for a one hour back rub
- a commitment to make supper once a week for your wife
- a homemade gift that shows thought and love
- a skill you have being offered to them (baking, tutoring, etc.)
Interestingly enough, these are the gifts that often get remembered for years after the many others have been forgotten or thrown out.