Brazilian Feliz Natal!
In Brazil, “Secret Santa” is a popular game in the days leading up to Christmas. It involves exchanging gifts without knowing the recipient beforehand. It’s also Santa Claus who puts the presents under the Christmas tree, which is put up and decorated on 1 December. All the Christmas lights are on in the cities: In São Paulo the most impressive displays are in the Avenida Paulista, one of the city’s largest boulevards, and Ibirapuera Park, home to the city’s biggest Christmas tree every year. A special meal with the whole family on Christmas Eve includes traditional Rabanadas (Brazilian-style French toast), cheese, turkey and crab cakes – a speciality introduced by the country’s Portuguese colonists.
India – mērī krisamasa
Featuring British plum pudding and Dutch rose cookies, Christmas baking in India is shaped by cultures that were part of India during the colonial era. On the subcontinent, Christmas is also a time for family, friends and lavish meals. Every region has its own customs. In the city of Allahabad, which has a large Christian population, Bushy’s bakery, for example, is a popular destination in the pre-Christmas period. Its customers bring their own ingredients and often spend hours watching their cake being made. At the German-Indian Chamber of Commerce in New Delhi, home of our subsidiary NürnbergMesse India, a German Christmas market is held every year and offers a wide range of items, from German mulled wine to Indian pashmina scarves.
Italy – Buon Natale!
In Italy, Christmas is a big family celebration involving grandparents and aunts, friends and relatives. On Christmas Day a huge meal is prepared, and every region has its own culinary traditions. In Northern Italy the menu includes soup (cappelletti in brodo), stuffed turkey (tacchino ripieno) and cakes (panettone and pandoro). For the distribution of presents on Christmas Eve (vigilia di natale), the Christmas tree is decorated complete with nativity scene (presepe). This is a Neapolitan tradition from the 1600s, and in this region the figures are still painted by hand. At midnight everyone goes to Midnight Mass (Messa di natale). Presents are not opened till the next day.
Austria – Frohe Weihnachten!
Silent Night, the world’s best-known Christmas carol is part of Austria’s cultural heritage. – as are advent wreaths, cherry-tree sprigs, St. Nikolaus and his companion Krampus and baking cookies during Advent. Christmas markets are a prominent feature in towns and villages and offer visitors mulled wine and punch to ward off the cold. During the Advent period, children write letters to Baby Jesus. Tradition has it that it is Baby Jesus who puts the presents under the Christmas tree on the evening of 24 December. For the mainly Roman Catholic Austrians, a visit to Midnight Mass is a must, while on Christmas Day and St. Stephen’s Day (26 December) extended visits to relatives are on the Agenda.
The U.S. – Merry Christmas!
It’s difficult not to get into the Christmas spirit in the U.S.. The whole month of December is dominated by Christmas lights, which decorate many houses and streets. Christmas carols are played all day, every day – on TV, on the radio and in every shop. Christmas traditions in the U.S. are as diverse as the people themselves. In Atlanta, for example, where our U.S. NürnbergMesse subsidiary is located, generations of children have been travelling on the “Pink Pig” train through shops where they can see their dreams turn into actual wishes. As in Europe, Christmas is a family celebration where everyone gathers to eat, play and chat and simply spend a lovely time together.
China – Shèngdàn jié kuàilè
Officially, the Christian festival of Christmas is not celebrated at all in China as most Chinese are Buddhists. But there is still a pre-Christmas atmosphere in the country, and in many places Christmas trees, lights, toys and Santa Claus are part of the cityscape in streets and shop windows. In western countries Christmas Eve is traditionally when gifts are shared; in China it could be described as the “day of the major shopping expedition.” Young Chinese in particular make good use of this opportunity and also like to visit the Christmas markets that are increasingly prevalent in large cities like Beijing and Shanghai and include the usual treats of mulled wine, sausage and Christmas gingerbread cookies.