Christmas Celebrations Around the World: Joy, Traditions, and Challenges

In different countries, Christmas celebrations vary. Today is December 25th, Merry Christmas! It is the main and grand religious festival for Christians. Throughout the world, this big day is celebrated with various festivities and arrangements. Christmas trees are decorated, colorful fireworks and twinkling lights create a festive atmosphere on this day.

However, this time there is a shadow over the Christmas celebration in Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus in Palestine. Due to the ongoing Israeli attacks and widespread violence in Gaza for the past eight months, the usual joyous celebration in Bethlehem on Christmas has been affected. Every year, the road to Bethlehem is adorned with colorful lights.

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This time, silence prevails everywhere in Bethlehem, Palestine. There are no brightly lit lamps. There is no crowd in hotels, restaurants, or markets. According to US news reports, local religious leaders announced in November that there would be no joyous celebration in Bethlehem this Christmas. The celebration has been prohibited for security reasons.

Even if this Christmas brings no joyous news for Palestinians, there is no shortage of celebrations and arrangements in various parts of the world. In Sweden, a giant goat made of straw is erected. The 42-foot-tall, 23-foot-wide goat, weighing more than three tons, celebrates the New Year in a grand tradition that began in 1966.

Colorful lights and decorations around are essential for creating the festive atmosphere on Christmas. However, in the city of San Fernando in the Philippines, a lantern festival is held. Lanterns shaped like stars, symbolizing the bright star seen in the sky during the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, illuminate the night sky of the city. Thousands of lanterns, colorful lights, and fireworks together create a spectacle.

In Ireland, people light a large red candle in front of the window during Christmas. This tradition serves as a symbol of warmth and shelter during the holiday season. In Austria and other Alpine regions, people believe that a creature named Krampus, similar to a devil, joins their celebration. Before indulging in the festivities, children are told to list good and bad deeds. It is believed that for good deeds, children will be rewarded with sweets, apples, and almonds, while a Krampus-shaped sword will be present for mischievous acts.

Apart from celebrations, Christmas is also a time for feasting. In Finland, people eat "Porridge," a traditional dish made with rice, milk, butter, and cinnamon, in the morning. On the other hand, Barbadians enjoy a traditional dish called "Pudding and Souse," made with pickled pork and seasoned with annatto.

In Iceland, the Christmas celebration begins 13 days before. Every night, children put their shoes by the window, and in the morning, those who behaved well find chocolate inside their shoes, while naughty children get a rotten potato. In Denmark, every family places a Christmas tree in the center of their home, and later, they gather around it to sing and dance.

In Brazil and Portugal, families gather for a big dinner on the night before Christmas at 10 PM. Afterward, at midnight, family members exchange greetings and gifts. Fireworks are set off in the central squares of every city.

Despite the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, the people of Ukraine are touched by the Christmas spirit. In the capital city, Kyiv, lights illuminate the city. Although the majority of Orthodox Christians in Ukraine celebrate Christmas on January 7th, a traditional festive procession is held on Christmas in a colorful parade through the streets.

In each country, regardless of the type of tradition and celebration, Christmas is a day to rejoice for those who love children. Prayers for humanity and sharing joy with everyone, along with singing, dancing, and feasting, make this day special.

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