Archive for the ‘Festivals’ Category

Dragon Boats from Antiquity

The Dragon Boat Festival is the biggest event of the summer. On the fifth day of the fifth moon (generally falling between May 28 and June 28), the summer season becomes official. Ancestors and gods must be honored, lest they lose their tempers during the dog days to come. The big event is the dragon boat race. Teams race against one another in long sculls decorated with a dragon’s head on the bow.

The story of this festival concerns a famous scholar-statesman named Chu Yuan (屈原), who served the King of Chu (楚) in the time of the warring states (戰國時代, 403-221 B.C.) He incurred the displeasure of the king and was exiled. Chu Yuan lived the life of a hermit and became an excellent poet. But on the fifth day of the fifth month, he became so frustrated that he threw himself into the Milo River (汨羅江) in Hunan province (湖南省). Knowing him as an upright and honest man, the people rushed to the river to save him. All vied to get there first, and the dragon boat races commemorate this attempt.

Unfortunately, it was too late and Chu Yuan drowned. But the peasants threw cooked rice into the water to comfort his spirit. Later, they wrapped the rice in bamboo leaves. This started another custom. On the fifth day of the fifth moon, rice dumplings wrapped in bamboo leaves are a favored food.

Dragon Boat Festival time is not the housewife’s delight. The house must be thoroughly cleaned. Realgar is used to disinfect the premises and a pinch of it goes into the festival food as an extra precaution. Air is sweetened with aromatic herbs to please the spirits and keep them in a friendly mood.

Poison Month

The fifth month of the Chinese lunar calendar marks the beginning of the hot weather in Taiwan. It’s also the time when the heat brings the threat of disease. So, on the first day of summer, the people used to go out into the country to gather a variety of herbs believed to have cooling protective properties. These were brewed into a fragrant soup. But the soup wasn’t made for drinking. Instead, it was used for bathing in the hopes of aiding the body’s defenses against the merciless heat.

In a similar custom, people would draw water from their wells precisely at noon on the day of the Dragon Boat holiday. This water was stored in an earthenware jug in a dark corner where it was supposed to acquire special curative powers. The noon waters (午時水) from Taichung’s Tieh Chan Mountain (鐵砧山) were believed to be especially potent in warding off summer plagues.

 

Five Poisons

According to Chinese tradition, there are five poisonous animals: the snake, the lizard, the scorpion, the centipede, and the toad. These five creatures are believed to be especially menacing beginning on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month, the date of the Dragon Boat Festival. It is also believed that when they appear together in a group they don’t dare contend with each other and their poisonous effects are thereby canceled out. So, on the Dragon Boat Holiday, special clothe pouches emblazoned with the five poisonous creatures are given to the children as lucky protective charms; and red paper cutouts featuring these beasts are posted on the windows to ward away evil.

In the past, Chinese medicine shops used to offer a special prescription for summertime coughs and rheumatism made from centipedes, scorpions, snakes, and other poisonous insects mixed with wine. Remnants of this tradition can be found in the snake meat shops found in Taipei Wanhua district and other parts of the island.

Xiung Huang Wine

Xiung huang (雄黃) is a rust-colored sulfur powder which is mixed with wine and drunk during the Dragon Boat Festival. The tradition of drinking this medicinal concoction may be derived from its mention in the famous Chinese folk tale, The Legend of White Snake (白蛇傳). It is taken along with green bean cakes in the hopes of flushing germs and poisons out of the body. But if someone offers you a bowl of this muddy cocktail, be careful not to drink too much. The xiung huang compound contains traces of arsenic and it can only be taken in very small portions. In the past, people used to sprinkle leftover xiung huang wine in the corners under the bed to kill off the bugs.

In addition to drinking the red colored xiung huang wine, it used to be customary to make offerings of red colored foods during the Dragon Boat Festival. Red is the color of luck and foods like shrimp, red peppers, carrots and radishes were commonly placed on the sacrifice table to obtain blessings from the ancestors and spirits.

Rush Sword

Rush sword (菖蒲) is a special ornament made for the Dragon Boat Festival. The Chinese call the fifth month of the year “poison month” and the fifth through 14th days of the month are believed to be the most dangerous. On the first of these days, the day of the dragon boat holiday, a special bouquet made of rushes and sprigs is hung up over the door. Roughly shaped like a sword, the bouquet is believed to have the power to ward off flying gruesome ghosts out to spread sickness and ill will.

Over the years, the custom of hanging charms over the door during the Dragon Boat Holiday has expanded. In addition to the usual bouquet of rush, moxa, and calamus, banyan branches may also be used because the banyan is the Buddhist tree of enlightenment. And if you look carefully, you might find garlic or pomegranate blossoms hanging over your head.

 

Chinese New Year–Part 2

Posted: 2013 年 12 月 31 日 in Chinese New Year
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  1. The week before New Year’s Day is a very busy time. Since the gods are no longer ensconced in the house, furniture can be moved around and the house given a meticulous cleaning without fear of disturbing them. Final shopping is done and decorations are added. A favorite decoration for this season is the narcissus flower. It is especially prevalent on family altars, which are also customarily decorated with bowls of oranges (the word for which sounds like “good luck (吉)” in Chinese) and rich embellished with paper flowers.

  1. This is the time also for purchasing woodblock prints and pasting them at suitable places on the walls. Spring couplets, written in black or gold on strips of red (an auspicious color) paper, are procured and pasted above and on both sides of the main entrance to the house. The couplets express auspicious wishes for the coming year, especially good fortune, prosperity, and long life. Square pieces of red paper bearing auspicious single Chinese characters are also pasted around the house. Paper images of fiercely protective deities are pasted on the main entrance as well. These door gods are meant to ward off all sorts of evil influences.

  1. By New Year’s Eve most of the preparations have been completed and the family can relax and enjoy the fellowship and festivities of the occasion—unless, that is, there are bills to be paid. The New Year is one of the three occasions (the other two being the Dragon Boat and Moon Festivals), and the most important one, on which the Chinese are required to settle all their accounts. Woe to anyone who still owes money at this time and can be located by his creditors.

  1. Otherwise, all of the members of the family, which by this time have arrived home form wherever they might have been living or traveling, gather happily on the approach of dusk to pay respects and offer sacrifices to departed ancestors. Traditionally, the doors are sealed with strips of red paper and not opened again until an auspicious hour the following morning. The family is left alone to feast, and to provide a feast as well for its forebears with chicken, meat, fish, vegetables, fruits, rice, and wine placed on the altar. Paper sacrificial money, too, is burned for the use of the ancestors in the underworld.

  1. As the doors are opened again, firecrackers are ignited to celebrate the occasion and welcome the deities who are supposed to come down from Heaven at this time for a short visit. With all of these unseen spirits about, certain precautions must be taken at this time not to injure or offend them. Needles and knives must not be used for fear of pricking or cutting a god. Nothing inauspicious must be said for fear of upsetting one. A polite cough must be made before entering a bathroom so that any spirits inside may have opportunity to depart.

  1. To keep in whatever good luck has entered the house on this New Year’s Day, no sweeping is done and nothing is thrown out. No fires or cooking are allowed. Since the activities of the first can set the pattern for the entire year to follow, no quarreling or sharp words are allowed. Behavior must be at its very best. The morning of New Year’s Day is a time for visiting relatives and friends, and for burning incense to the gods at temples. Since so many people are out doing this; however, few are left at home to greet callers.

  1. The second day of the New Year is when wives take husbands and children to visit the homes of their own parents. This is a favorite day for children, since adults seeing them for the first time of the year must present them with gifts of “red envelopes (紅包).” The third day is a good time to stay home and avoid the God of Anger, who is believed to be abroad at this time, and the night of the fourth day is when food is left on the floor for the rats who are believed to get married at this time. Things generally return to normal on the fifth day, although the New Year’s season is not officially over until the Lantern Festival on the 15th day of the first lunar month.

  1. In Taiwan today, many of these old customs have died out or survive only in weakened form. But the Lunar New Year is still by far the most important holiday of the year, the one time when people make every effort to be together with their families. The government grants a three-day holiday, which is frequently extended by a weekend, and many people take extra days off to lengthen their vacations. The Wei Ya banquet is still de rigueur, the families still get together for dinner on New Year’s Eve, children still expect—and receive—red envelopes filled with money, visits to relatives and friends still occupy many people on New Year’s Day, and married daughters still visit their parents on the second day of the New Year. Ancestors are still worshipped at this time of year, and most doors are still decorated with spring couplets. Firecrackers begin to sound as the night of New Year’s Eve deepens, reaching a steady crescendo at the approach of midnight.

  1. In the old days, practically every kind of commercial enterprise closed down for at least a week at New Year’s time. In Taiwan today, most offices, stores, and restaurants still close for at least three days; Taipei and other major cities are blessed with an unaccustomed quiet, many of their residents having returned to the countryside for the holidays. But there are also establishments that remain open right through the holidays: hotels, convenience stores, and fast-food restaurants, especially. In addition, vendors are concentrated on busy corners, offering fruits and other “New Year’s goods.” The establishments that close down for the festival open again after three days, five days, or more, invariably choosing an auspicious date and time for the event and announcing it with the thunderous roar of exploding firecrackers. After all of the doors are open again, things return to normal until the Chinese New Year, the festival of festivals, rolls around again.

 

Chinese New Year–Part 1

Posted: 2013 年 12 月 31 日 in Chinese New Year
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  1. To the Chinese, the New Year is the festival of festivals, Christmas, New Year, Spring Cleaning, and Independence Day all rolled into one, with a bit of Halloween added for good measure. It is the time of the year when the past is dealt with and all things begin anew, when families gather to feast, pay respects to their forebears, and revel in togetherness as they await the dawning of the new spring with its promise—or at least hope—of better times to come.

  1. The custom of families gathering on New Year’s Eve and “keeping the night (守夜)” is tied in with an ancient legend about the “nien beast (年獸),” who once a year came roaring from the sea to lay waste to the land and devour the people and their animals. To protect themselves, families gathered together in their homes on the night of New Year’s Eve, shut their doors tightly, and ate, drank, and prayed—and generally had a good time, for after all this might be their last night on earth.

  1. The lucky ones who were still alive on the morning of New Year’s Day emerged cautiously from their homes to investigate the damage and see which of their neighbors were still among the living. Whenever they came across someone, they would say “Congratulations (恭喜)” to compliment them on having survived the night and the beast. And to this day, “Congratulations” is still the customary greeting extended to Chinese people during the New Year’s season.

  1. Because of this connection with the New Year, the name of the beast—nien—has come to be the Chinese word for “year.” And since the Chinese year is calculated according to the lunar calendar, the date of the Lunar New Year varies on the Gregorian calendar used in the West, usually falling around the last of January or in the first half of February.

  1. In the old days, the New Year season would last for an entire month or more. Almost a month before the day itself, families would begin making preparations—buying new clothes and furniture, giving the house a thorough cleaning, getting rid of all the old things that would no longer be needed, making ready all of the food and other things—“New Year’s goods (年貨)”—that would be required for the celebrations.

  1. The official beginning of the New Year season was on the eighth day of the 12th lunar month, called “La Pa (臘八),” literally meaning “the eighth day of the last month.” On this day, a sweet gruel made of such ingredients as glutinous rice, walnuts, lotus seeds, red beans, and other delicacies was prepared and consumed. This dish, known unsurprisingly as La Pa gruel (八寶粥), is still eaten today.

  1. The 16th day of the last lunar month is known as “Wei Ya (尾牙)”, or the Festival of the Last Tooth. (Traditionally, the second and sixteenth days of each lunar month are known as “tooth days,” and, in the past, were observed as excuses to dine a little better than usual.) This day is still kept religiously by companies and other organizations that take the occasion to give their employees a year-end banquet, although the date on which the feasting is held now varies widely.

  1. This banquet was once used to give employees notice, in a relatively painless way, that their services were no longer required. The whole chicken that was invariably part of the menu was placed on the table in such a way that its head pointed at the soon-to-be-unemployed person. If no one was to be “let go,” the head of the chicken was pointed at the boss.

  1. The 24th day of the 12th month is the time, in traditional Chinese belief, when all the gods stationed on earth to keep an eye on the doings of mortals returned to Heaven to make their reports. For the household, the most important of these deities was “the God of the Hearth (灶神),” who had the responsibility of reporting to his superiors on all that had transpired in the family during the past year. His report was crucial, for an unfavorable account could bring bad fortune upon the individual involved—even to the extent of shortening his or her life.

  1. The ever-resourceful and ever-pragmatic Chinese had an ingenious way of dealing with this situation. To sweeten the mouth of the Hearth God as he made his report, or perhaps to glue it shut if he had nothing sweet to say, they made glutinous rice sweets and smeared them over the mouth of the deity’s paper image that was pasted on the kitchen wall. Then, after suitable sacrifices were offered and devotional incense lighted, the image was taken down and burned to speed the god’s way to Heaven. This custom has not died out entirely, even today.

Christmas–1. Introduction

Posted: 2013 年 12 月 12 日 in Christmas
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聖誕節懶人包介紹:

I. 全文共11篇,主題如下:1. Introduction  2. Xmas arts, rituals, & customs  3. Xmas songs  4. Virgin Mary  5. The Journey  6. The Birth  7. The Shepherds  8. The Magi  9. The Gifts  10. Flight to Egypt  11. The Return

II. 教學時間有限者,建議可讓學生閱讀第一篇與第二篇學習聖誕節由來/習俗/慶祝活動/相關短片。

III. 教學活動可利用第三篇進行聖誕歌曲教學與賞析。

IV. 教學時間充裕或學生程度優異者,第四篇到第十一篇文章內容為連貫性的耶穌誕生故事,每篇段落皆有編號,方便老師們進行分組翻譯/故事接龍等教學活動。此外,每篇篇末皆附有聖誕相關電影或短片,可進行課後聽力練習與文化瞭解。

V. 此懶人包適用學生程度約英檢中級,若老師們願意多花時間搭學生的鷹架,英檢初級也可適用。

VI. 此懶人包年年適用,若本部落格讀者有聖誕相關題材可豐富此包內容,請不吝賜教,謝謝!

Introduction

Christians the world over celebrate December 25 as Christmas, the anniversary of the birth of Christ. It is a joyous holiday, marked by family gatherings, colorful decorations, traditional songs, and the exchange of gifts. Many people also take part in special religious services.

The name “Christmas” comes from the Old English Christes Maesse, or “Christ’s Mass.” The story of Christmas is told in the Bible. The Gospels of Saint Matthew and Saint Luke tell how Jesus was born in Bethlehem, how angels announced his birth to shepherds outside the town, and how a bright star led the three Wise Men to him. But the Gospels do not tell the date of Christ’s birth. It is thought that December 25 was chosen because it was around the time of various pagan festivals, such as the Roman Saturnalia. These festivals marked the winter solstice, the time of year when days begin to grow longer in the Northern Hemisphere. Many Christmas customs are thought to have begun with practices associated with these pagan festivals.

The early Christian churches were divided over when to celebrate Christmas. The Western church, based in Rome, chose December 25, while the Eastern church chose January 6. Eventually the holidays merged, and Christmas was celebrated in a twelve-day festival that included both days. Today only the Armenian church observes Christmas on January 6. In other churches, this day is known as Epiphany (主顯節) and is said to mark either the visit of the Wise men or (in Eastern churches) Christ’s baptism. But to many people, the Christmas season extends for an even longer time—from the end of November through New Year’s Day.

Christmas customs

Each country that celebrates Christmas has developed its own particular customs associated with the observance of the holiday. But some customs are found in most countries where Christmas is observed.

Gift giving. Gift giving was part of many pagan midwinter festivals and became part of Christmas as well. In some countries, gifts are exchanged on New Year’s Day or on Epiphany rather than Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Children’s gifts are often said to be brought by a magical and mysterious figure. In the United States, this figure is Santa Claus—a jolly, fat elf in a fur-trimmed red suit. The original Santa Claus is thought to have been St. Nicholas, a 4th-century bishop in Asia Minor (小亞細亞) who was famous for his generosity. He became the patron saint of children. The children of Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands still know him as Saint Nicholas. He is called Pere Noel in France, and Father Christmas in Britain.

Decorations. Christmas decorations are another ancient custom. In pagan times, northern Europeans brought evergreen boughs indoors in winter to serve as a reminder that life would return with spring. Some evergreen plants, such as mistletoe, were thought to have magical properties. It was said that if two enemies met under a branch of mistletoe, they would drop weapons and embrace. This old belief may have been the origin of the modern custom of kissing under the mistletoe.

Christians adopted these decorations and gave them new meaning. Holly, for example, became associated with the crown of thorns Jesus to his crucifixion. The prickly leaves stood for the thorns, while the red berries stood for drops of blood. Wreaths, which symbolized the continuance of life through winter, came to stand for the eternal life promised by Christ. Fires, candles, and other lights, important to pagan festivals as reminders of the sun, came to stand for Jesus as the light of the world.

The Christmas tree also originated in northern Europe. In the Middle Ages, a tree called the Paradise Tree—an evergreen hung with apples—was a prop in a play about Adam and Eve. People began to set up similar trees in their homes on December 24, the feast day of Adam and Eve. As the trees became more associated with Christmas, people added candles and, eventually, cookies and other decorations.

The Christmas tree custom was introduced in the United States by German settlers in the 1700’s. But it did not become widely popular until the mid-1800’s, when a German prince, Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, married Queen Victoria of England and had a decorated Christmas tree set up in Windsor Castle. Today a Christmas tree decorated with glittering ornaments, candy canes, and electric lights is the focus of many family Christmas celebrations. Huge outdoor trees are also set up in many communities. Two of the largest in the United States are put up each year in Rockefeller Plaza, in New York City, and on the White House lawn in Washington, D.C.

New decorations have been added to traditional ones. The poinsettia, a bright tropical plant, was discovered by Joel R. Poinsett, a U.S. minister to Mexico in the 1800’s. it became a popular Christmas decoration because its leaves showed the traditional Christmas colors—green, standing for the continuation of life, and red, standing for the blood shed by Christ.

Christmas cards.The first Christmas greeting card was created in 1843 by John C. Hosley, a British artist. His card was designed like a post card, lithographed in black and white and colored by hand. It showed a family having Christmas dinner. Another British artist, William Egley, designed a card at about the same time. Both these early cards bore the now-familiar message “A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.”

By the 1860’s, Christmas cards were popular throughout Britain. Louis Prang, a German emigrant printer, began to design and sell colored Christmas cards in the United States in 1874. In less than ten years, his shop was turning out 5,000,000 cards a year. Today greeting cards have become a major industry, and billions of cards are sent all over the world each year.

Family gatherings. In medieval Europe, Christmas was a wild celebration of feasting, dancing, and merrymaking that lasted for weeks. Today it is a time for families and friends to get together, often for a special meal. Foods of the season include turkey, gooese, duck, fish, roast beef, and an abundance of other good things to eat and drink. In some European countries, the custom of serving a roast suckling pig with an apple in its mouth is still observed.

Of all Christmas desserts, perhaps the most popular in Britain and the United States are mince pie and plum pudding. Superstition says that eating mince pie on Christmas brings good luck. In many lands, specially baked cakes and cookies are traditional. Preparation of these treats is begun weeks ahead of Christmas dinner.

What the Americans do at Christmas

Christmas: origin, history and traditions (EASY)

 Christmas arts

Since early times, Christmas has served as an inspiration for music, art, and poems and stories. Many of these works have become closely associated with the holiday.

Music.

Christmas music covers a wide range, from light popular tunes to regal works such as Handel’s Messiah. Tchaikovsky’s ballet The Nutcracker and Gian Carlo Menotti’s opera Amahl and the Night Visitors are often performed during the Christmas season.

Carols are the most traditional Christmas music. Early carols were based on dance tunes and refrains from ballads and folk songs. During the Protestant Reformation in England, carols were banned. This was because the Puritans, who took control of the country in the mid-1600s, felt that the music and merrymaking associated with Christmas were pagan customs. Carols returned after 1660, when the monarchy was restored.

Most of the carols we sing today were written in the 1800’s. They include “Silent Night, Holy Night” “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” “Away in a Manger,” and “Joy to the World.” These traditional songs have been joined by modern ones, such as “White Christmas,” “Here Comes Santa Claus,” and even “Jingle Bell Rock.”

Bells are also a traditional part of Christmas music. Every Christmas Eve, church and cathedral bells ring loud and clear to call families to church services. Bells are used as decorations on Christmas trees, wreaths, and gift-wrappings.

Arts.

The scene of the nativity has been painted by many artists. Among them were some of the great masters of the Renaissance, including Giotto, Fra Angelico, and Sandro Botticelli. The nativity is also depicted in three-dimensional creche (French word for “crib”) scenes. St. Francis of Assisi is given credit for setting up the first creche, using live figures, in Greccio, Italy, in 1223. In many Catholic countries, the creche is the center of a Christmas Eve pageant that tells the story of the three Wise Men bringing gifts to the infant Christ.

Literature.

Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is one of the most popular Christmas stories ever written. Several film versions of this tale have been made. “The Gift of the Magi,” by O. Henry (William Porter), is another well-known story. It tells of the efforts of a young husband and wife to find gifts for each other.

The poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas” has been part of Christmas in the United States since 1823, when it was first published. Clement C. Moore wrote it for his family, and it did much to create the present image of Santa Claus. These traditional Christmas works have been joined by some modern favorites, such as Dr. Seuss’s The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.

Christmas rituals

Religious ceremonies marking the birth of Christ begin some four weeks before Christmas. The fourth Sunday before Christmas Day is the first day of Advent, the period of preparation that comes before the holiday. Many people keep track of the days in this period with Advent calendars or Advent candles. The calendars have Christmas scenes and tiny windows, one of which is opened each day to uncover a picture or verse. The candles carry the dates leading up to Christmas and are burned a set amount each day, so that on Christmas day they are used up.

Many people also have Advent wreaths in their homes. These wreaths have four candles, one for each of the Sundays of Advent. Each Sunday, the family lights candles—one candle the first Sunday, two candles the next, and so on—and prays.

In churches, children often take part in nativity pageants, in which they act out the scenes of the Christmas story. On Christmas Eve, churches are decorated with evergreens and candles, and special candlelight and carol services are held. Most churches also hold services on Christmas Day. The message at these services is the central message of Christmas: Peace and goodwill among all people.

Customs around the world

Christmas is celebrated in many ways. Here are some of the traditional customs in countries around the world.

France.

Children in France welcome the visit of Pere Noel at Christmastime. Instead of hanging stockings, they leave their shoes by the fireplace to be filled with gifts. On Christmas Eve, after midnight Mass, many families have a special supper called Le reveillon. Turkey is the favorite food on Christmas Day, followed by a special Christmas cake called buche de Noel.

Scandinavia.

In the Scandinavia countries, Christmas gifts are brought by a jolly old man called Jultomten in Sweden, and Julenissen in Norway and Denmark. His elflike helpers, who sometimes help people throughout the year, are called the tomtar. In Sweden, the Christmas season begins on December 13, St. Lucia Day. On this day the oldest daughter of the house—dressed in white and wearing a wreath with candles on her head—serves coffee and buns in bed to the rest of the family.

Germany.

For German children, Christmas festivities begin on December 6, when they leave their lists of Christmas wishes for St. Nicholas and receive candy in return. Christmas gifts are brought by the Weihnachtsmann. A Christmas tree, often decorated with small, spicy cookies, is the focus of many family celebrations. Fruit-filled breads called stollen are a seasonal treat.

Holy Land.

In Bethlehem, which is now in Israel, Christmas Eve is marked with a colorful procession. People file through the narrow streets carrying an image of Jesus in a cradle to the Church of the Nativity, where it is placed in a special glass and marble manger. Pilgrims from all parts of the world take part.

Italy.

A nativity scene called a presepio, rather than a Christmas tree, is the focus of celebrations in most Italian homes. The figure of the Christ child is added to the scene on Christmas Eve. Many families have a Christmas Eve supper of capitone, or fried eels. Other Christmas specialties include panettone (a bread with dried fruit) and torrone (a candy made with nuts and honey). Presents are brought on Epiphany by La Befana, a kindly witch. But Italians parents tell their children that La Befana will leave only ashes if they are naughty.

Britain.

British children hope to receive gifts from Father Christmas, and they enjoy a Christmas dinner of roast turkey and mince pie or plum pudding. Wassail, a punch made from ale, apples, spices, and other ingredients, is served. People go from house to house singing carols, often to raise money for charity.

Japan.

Because there are relatively few Christians in Japan, Christmas is not widely celebrated. But many Western Christmas customs have been adopted by Japan. People exchange gifts, and streets and stores are decorated with evergreens and bright lights.

Mexico.

In Mexico and many other Latin American countries, children have a Christmas party that includes a pinata. This is an earthenware jug or papier-mache figure filled with candies and small toys. It hangs by a rope from the ceiling or a tree branch, and the children take turns putting on a blindfold and hitting it with a stick until it breaks and the sweets and toys tumble out. In the days leading up to Christmas, people take part in posada processions that re-enact the search of Mary and Joseph for lodgings in Bethlehem.

The Netherlands.

Saint Nicholas brings presents to Dutch children on the eve of December 6. He is said to arrive by boat from Spain, and he rides through the streets on a white horse. He is assisted by his helper, Swarte Piet (Black Pete).

Bizarre Christmas traditions around the world

Worldwide Christmas celebrations

 

Christmas–3. Christmas songs

Posted: 2013 年 12 月 12 日 in Christmas
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When it comes to Ben’s favorite Christmas songs, there are three of them: Last Christmas, Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer, and When Christmas comes to town.

1. Last Christmas, sung by Wham originally, is about a heartbreaking romance. The song is so popular that you can hear the song in public places every Christmas.

Last Christmas (Wham)

2. Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer tells a story of how a red-nosed reindeer being encouraged to be the leading reindeer for Santa Claus. Personally, the reason I love Rudolph so much results partly from Chopper (a character in comic books named One Piece). Both Rudolph and Chopper are discriminated when young, but they get over the miserable past because of the encouragement by others. The story inspires me to encourage my students more!

Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer (action song)

3. When Christmas Comes to Town is an interlude of the animation Polar Express starred by Tom Hanks. The animation tells a story of how a lonely boy takes the Polar Express to North Pole and has a wonderful trip there. Personally, the MV by Hollie Stell is highly-recommended because I strongly believe that little boys will definitely have a crush on Hollie not only because of her beautiful voice but also her cute looks.

When Christmas Comes to Town (Polar Express)

When Christmas Comes to Town (Hollie Steel)

When Christmas Comes to Town (Piano-accompanied)