COLUMBUS, Ohio –
DLA Land and Maritime provides global military logistics support throughout the year.
As the holiday season approaches, DLA Land and Maritime’s Special Emphasis Programs provide insight on how those around the globe celebrate the holiday seasons.
Holiday Celebrations & Traditions
People celebrate this Christian holiday by going to church, giving gifts and sharing the day with their families. In some parts of Europe, “star singers” go caroling, singing special Christmas songs, as they walk behind a huge star on a pole.
For eight days each November or December, Jewish tradition calls for candles to be lit in a special candleholder called a menorah. This is done to remember an ancient miracle in which one day's worth of oil burned for eight days in the temple. On Hanukkah, many of the Jewish faith eat special potato pancakes called latkes, sing songs and spin a top called a dreidel to win chocolate coins, nuts or raisins.
Kwanzaa, which means “First Fruits,” is based on ancient African harvest festivals and celebrates ideals such as family life and unity. During this spiritual holiday celebrated from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1, millions of African-Americans dress in special clothes, decorate their homes with fruits and vegetables, and light a candleholder called a kinara. Kwanzaa is not celebrated in Africa beacuse it’s an African-American holiday.
Mawlid, which means birth of the prophet, is observed during the third month on the Islamic calendar known as Rabi' al-awwal and celebrates the prophet Muhammad. This year, the celebration corresponds to Dec. 1. Mawlid is recognized as a national holiday in most of the Muslim-majority countries.
St. Lucia Day
To honor this third-century saint on Dec. 13, many girls in Sweden dress up as “Lucia brides” in long white gowns with red sashes and wear a wreath of burning candles on their heads. They wake up their families by singing songs and bringing them coffee and twisted saffron buns called “Lucia cats.”
Chinese New Year
Many Chinese children dress in new clothes to celebrate the Lunar New Year. People carry lanterns and join in a huge parade led by a silk dragon, the Chinese symbol of strength. According to legend, the dragon hibernates most of the year so people throw firecrackers to keep the dragon awake.
In many places around the world, people stay up late to see the old year out and the new year in. Almost everywhere in the world church bells ring, horns toot, whistles blow and sirens shriek.
London's Trafalgar Square and New York City's Times Square swarm with crowds of happy, noisy people. The hullabaloo expresses people's high spirits during the holiday time.
More New Year Traditions
Indonesia has two New Year celebrations — the official one on Jan. 1 and another on the Islamic New Year, which date varies from year to year.
The Russian Orthodox Church observes the New Year according to the Julian calendar on Jan. 14.
In Vietnam, the new year usually begins in February.
Iran celebrates New Year's Day on March 21.
Each of the religious groups in India has its own date for the beginning of the year. The Hindu New Year, Baisakhi, comes sometime in April or May.
The people in Morocco observe the beginning of the year on the tenth day of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic year.
The Koreans celebrate their new year the first three days in January.
Christmas Around the World
Christmas is celebrated throughout the African continent by Christian communities. On Christmas day, carols are sung from Ghana to South Africa. Meats are roasted, gifts are exchanged and family visits are made. The Coptic Christians in Ethiopia and Egypt celebrate Christmas day on Dec. 25 in their calendar which is Jan. 7 for most of the world. People decorate the community. The holiday is more focused on the religious aspect of celebrating the birth of Jesus and singing in church than it’s on gift giving. The most common gift is a new set of clothes to be worn to the church service.
Dec. 25 falls during summer vacation, so many of the country's Christmas festivities take place outdoors. The most popular event of the Christmas season is called Carols by Candlelight. People come together at night to light candles and sing Christmas carols outside. The stars shining above add to the sights and sounds of this outdoor concert.
The little town where Jesus is said to have been born is the site of the Church of the Nativity, which is ablaze with flags and decorations every Christmas. On Christmas Eve, natives and visitors alike crowd the church's doorways and stand on the roof to watch for the annual procession. Galloping horsemen and police mounted on Arabian horses lead the parade. They are followed by solitary horseman carrying a cross and sitting astride a coal-black steed. Then come the churchmen and government officials. The procession enters the doors and places an ancient effigy of the Holy Child in the church. Deep winding stairs lead to a grotto where visitors find a silver star marking the site of the birth of Jesus.
The small number of Christians in China call Christmas Sheng Dan Jieh, which means Holy Birth Festival. They decorate their homes with evergreens, posters and bright paper chains. Families put up a Christmas tree, called a "tree of light," and decorate it with beautiful lanterns, flowers and red paper chains that symbolize happiness. They cut out red pagodas to paste on the windows and they light their houses with paper lanterns.
It’s cold, wet and foggy in England at Christmastime. The day before Christmas is very busy for families in England. They wrap presents, bake cookies and hang stockings over the fireplace. Children write a letter to Father Christmas with their wishes and toss their letter into the fire so their wishes can go up the chimney. After the children fall asleep on Christmas Eve, Father Christmas comes to visit.
Ethiopia follows the ancient Julian calendar and celebrates Christmas on Jan. 7. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church's celebration of Christ's birth is called Ganna. It’s a day when families attend church. Everyone dresses in white. Most Ethiopians don a traditional shamma, a thin, white cotton wrap with brightly colored stripes across the ends. Twelve days after Ganna, on January 19, Ethiopians begin the three-day celebration called Timkat, commemorating the baptism of Christ.
In Romania, Christmas is known as Craciun and Santa Claus is called Mos Craciun. The Christmas tree is decorated on Christmas Eve with nuts, candies, apples and chocolates wrapped in colored paper. The children go caroling from house to house and are given traditional treats in return. After Midnight Mass, children clean and polish their best pair of boots and place them at the front door for Santa Claus to find. It's there that he'll leave presents for the youngest children who have already gone to bed.
Christmas celebrations begin on December 5, St. Nicholas Eve. On Christmas Eve, church bells ring and people sing French carols, called noels. On Christmas Day, families go to church and then enjoy an abundant feast of wonderful dishes, ending with the traditional buche de Noel, a rich buttercream-filled cake shaped and frosted to look like a Yule log.
German families prepare for Christmas throughout December. Four Sundays before Christmas, they make an Advent wreath of fir or pine branches that has four colored candles. They light a candle on the wreath each Sunday, sing Christmas songs and eat Christmas cookies. In the weeks leading up to Christmas, homes are filled with the delightful smells of baking loaves of sweet bread, cakes filled with candied fruits and spicy cookies called lebkuchen.
Hawaiians celebrate the holiday season a bit different than the mainland (United States). The temperature is around 75 degrees year-round. Many dress up in Muumuu’s and aloha shirts for Christmas church services. Santa wears an aloha shirt and palaka shorts. He arrives by surfboard or canoe, leaving the reindeer and sleigh on the mainland. Christmas trees are often traditional evergreen conifers, although some people use palm trees and other native trees. Most families are found at the beach for Christmas and New Years with family and friends. They gather around imus, surf and play ukuleles.
Dutch children in Holland, or the Netherlands, eagerly await the arrival of Sinterklaas on St. Nicholas Day, December 6. Sinterklaas is a kindly bishop. He wears red robes and a tall, pointed mitre on his head. Sinterklaas travels by ship from Spain to Amsterdam's harbor every winter. He brings his white horse and a huge sack full of gifts for the children. Families celebrate St. Nicholas Eve at home with lots of good food, hot chocolate and a letterbanket. A letterbanket is a cake made in the shape of the first letter of the family's last name.
The Christmas season in Italy begins on the first Sunday of Advent, which is four Sundays before Christmas. Christmas fairs feature fireworks and bonfires along with holiday music. Families go to the Christmas markets to shop for gifts and new figures for the manger scene. Some families decorate a Christmas tree. Families set up their presepio, or manger scene, on the first day of the novena. They gather before the presepio each morning or evening of novena to light candles and pray.
On Christmas Eve, Iraqi Christian families gather together and one of the children read about the birth of Jesus while other family members hold lighted candles. After the reading, a bonfire of thorn bushes is lit and everyone sings. If the thorns burn to ashes, good luck will be granted for the coming year. When the fire dies, each person jumps over the ashes three times and makes a wish. On Christmas Day, another bonfire is lit in the churchyard. The bishop, carrying a figure of the baby Jesus leads the service. Afterwards he blesses one person with a touch. That person touches the person next to him or her and the touch is passed around until all present have felt the "touch of peace."
Christmas is a special time of year where radio stations play carols and people decorate their homes. Most families spend Christmas Day at home with family and friends. The Christmas meal is usually prepared on Christmas Eve and includes fresh fruit, sorrel and rum punch and meat. Christmas breakfast includes ackee and saltfish, breadfruit, fried plantains, boiled bananas, freshly squeezed fruit juice and tea.
The weather is warm and mild in Mexico during the Christmas season. Families shop for gifts, ornaments and good things to eat in the market stalls, called puestos. They decorate their homes with lilies and evergreens. Family members cut intricate designs in brown paper bags to make lanterns, or farolitos. They place a candle inside and then set the farolitos along sidewalks, windowsills, rooftops, and outdoor walls to illuminate the community with the spirit of Christmas.
The Christmas season begins in Spain on December 8, with a weeklong observance of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Evergreens decorate the churches and outdoor markets throughout the Christmas season. Tambourines, gourd rattles, castanets and miniature guitars are offered for sale to enliven the singing and dancing in the streets. Children go from house to house reciting verses or singing carols for sweets, toys or small instruments.
How to say Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays in different languages
How to say Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays in different languages
|Afrikaans (South Africa):
||Spraasnikam! [Happy Holidays]
||Melkam Yelidet Beaal
||Danistayohihv &Aliheli'sdi Itse Udetiyvasadisv
||Hoesenestotse & Aa'eEmona'e
||Yukpa, Nitak Hollo Chito
||Mitho Makosi Kesikansi
||Colo san wintom tiebeen
||Hisgusgitxwsim Ha'niisgats Christ ganhl Ama Sii K'uuhl!
||Avyaitete ahï ko Tupa ray árape qyraï Yy Kapyryin rira
||Imboeteipri tasecoi Tupa i vave
||Drin tsal zhit shoh ohlii & Drin Choo zhit zhoh ohli
||Mele Kalikimaka (Merry Christmas)
||Hau’oli Makahiki Hou (Happy New Year)
||Mo'adim Lesimkha. Chena tova
||annaurri Aniruq & Paglaun Ukiutchiaq
||Jutdlime pivdluarit ukiortame pivdluaritlo
||Idah Saidan Wa Sanah Jadidah
||Ojenyunyat Sungwiyadeson homungradon nagwutut & Ojenyunyat osrasay
||Meri Kurisumasu メリークリスマス
||Dios tik'ujie' avik'in
||Sung Tan Chuk Ha Hamnida
||Denaahuto' Hoolaahn Dedzaahn Sodeelts'eeyh
||Drin Tsal Neenjit Goozu'
||Wanikiya tonpi wowiyuskin & Omaka teca oiyokipi
||Feliz Navidad / Felices
||Niibaa' anami'egiizhigad & Aabita Biboo
||Wanto'wan amp; Hoyan
|Philippines – Cibuano:
|Philippines – Tagalog:
||Wesolych Swiat Bozego Narodzenia or Boze Narodzenie
||chi woche swatx'ilal hak'ul yet jun yalji Komami'
||Sumaj kausay kachun Navidad ch'sisipi & Mosoi Watapi sumaj kausay kachun
||Pozdrevlyayu s prazdnikom Rozhdestva is Novim Godom
||Dzeen chox teedle 'aay nayilkaa
||Vesele Bozicne Praznike Srecno Novo Leto
||Matswalo a Morena a Mabotse
|Swahili (Tanzania, Kenya):
||Kuwa na Krismasi njema
||God Jul and (Och) Ett Gott Nytt År
||Sawadee Pee Mai or souksan wan Christmas
||Xristos Khuwdziti kax sh kaxtoolxetl
||Neekiriisimas annim oo iyer seefe feyiyeech
||Noeliniz Ve Yeni Yiliniz Kutlu Olsun
||t'ohudinch'i Hulin Dzenu & Eyum nan ek'an nenatth'at danji te yesohuthin ch'e hadaatle
||Srozhdestvom Kristovym or Z RIZDVOM HRYSTOVYM
||Naya Saai Mubaraj Go (Good Year)
||Chuc Mung Giang Sinh
||E ku odun, e ku iye'dun
||E ku odun, e hu iye' dun
|Yupik Eskimo, Alaska:
||Quyanalghii Kuusma & Quyangalleq Nutaghamun Aymiqulleq Zimbabwe
|Zulu (South Africa):
||Sinifisela Ukhisimusi Omuhle
A special thank you to the DLA Land and Maritime’s Special Emphasis Programs for providing insight on how those around the globe celebrate the holiday seasons.
For more information, visit the Special Emphasis Programs site.