Christmas traditions from around the world

Posted on Dec 20 2019

The CNMI is a basin for people of different backgrounds who make the holidays on the islands extra special. Residents reconnect with their culture and traditions in a place where everyone makes joyful medley of revelries—all united in celebrating the spirit of Christmas.

Franicia Borja

Franicia Borja, who is born and raised on Saipan, has fond memories of how her family spends Christmas time. “We usually gather at my grandmother’s house on the eve of Christmas. All families would bring gifts and food for potluck and, when that happens, I know it will be a night of conversations, catching up, fun, laughter and overall just a memorable day. Later on, we will open up presents and the night continues.”

Mili Chaves De Saiki

Mili Chaves De Saiki celebrates her Peruvian roots during the holidays, starting with planting grass on Dec. 1.. “We plant grass in a can and water it everyday. By the 20th, it will be strong and tall and we use it to decorate the nativity on our Christmas tree. We also write letters to Niño Jesus (Baby Jesus) to ask for presents, bake cookies every night and have fun decorating them. …On Christmas eve, my family and cousins share dinner, exchange gifts and go together to the misa de gallo (midnight Mass). On Christmas Day, we all visit our grandmother for more presents and a big lunch that includes turkey, asado, salads and lots of wine.”

Marissa Castro

Marissa Castro celebrates Christmas with her family here with a hint of how she did it while growing up in the Philippines. “On Christmas Day we go to Mass first thing in the morning. As Christmas is all about family, we have lunch at my children’s favorite restaurant, go malling for some more family bonding and then we go home to open gifts.”

Kimiko McKagan

“Merikurisumasu” is how Japanese people say their greetings this holiday and, according to Kimiko McKagan, who was born in Kyoto, not many Japanese are Christians but they still have fun on Christmas eve. “My family used to eat chicken [and] Christmas cake at dinner. When we were young, my sister, brother and I refused to go to sleep because we wanted to meet Santa Clause and, of course, we always failed (laughts). But Christmas Day morning was always the best because we always find gifts next to out futons.”

Jessica Carlson

Jessica Carlson has warm memories of Christmas time in her hometown in Idaho. “We would take the children to the mall to visit Santa. While there, we would also ride on the train and carousel and stop at Five Guys on the way home for a treat. At home, we would chop down a tree from our yard to decorate. We also make homemade cookies shaped like snowflakes and reindeers. A few of those cookies are always left for Santa with some milk!”

Alexa Go

Alexa Go of Chalan Lau lau said the whole family is together on Christmas Day. “We eat out if we can and then we spend time in the house with other family members. Sometimes we plan exchange gifts too, but sometimes we are not complete so we do other things. Christmas is about family bonding in the living room, relaxing and talking. I want to continue this tradition when I have my own family, just even bigger where I would be like throwing parties for Christmas, mostly for families.”

Kuen-Hee Han

Kuen-Hee Han says that the strongest Christmas tradition that she remembers about Koreans is they buy Christmas cakes and light it. “There was a fancy bakery in my building and they told me that it is during Christmas that they see a high record for cake sales. My daughter and I celebrate Christmas here by making traditional butter cookies laced with almond extract and orange essence. We also watch White Christmas every year.”

Prem Singh

In Fiji, Christmas is not an integral part of the Hindu religion, according to Prem Singh. “Nevertheless, for my family back home, it has always been a time of merrymaking and fun. It is the festive time of the year where people of any race and color celebrate. During Christmas, we prepare our favorite meals—goat curry and lovo have always been the highlights on our table. We also exchange gifts, eat Christmas fruit cakes, [drink] soft drinks, and [eat] canned fruits. Sounds unusual but true.”

Bea Cabrera
Bea Cabrera, who holds a law degree, also has a bachelor's degree in mass communications. She has been exposed to multiple aspects of mass media, doing sales, marketing, copywriting, and photography.
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