December 7,1994 6 Campus Extras Christmas has international appeal by Melissa Cloer As Christmas comes around this year we will cany on many traditions as we have for years. We will have a Christmas tree, attend midnight mass, exchange gifts and enjoy a hearty Christmas meal. Do you ever wonder where these traditions originated or how other countries celebrate Christmas? Christ mas means “Christ’s Mass” and has been celebrated in Rome since 336 A.D. Food, good fellowship, trees, gifts and greetings commemorate an aspea of celebration of longer days and how the sun climbs higher in the sky. The an cient cus tom of using evergreen trees, wreathes and gariand during Christmas represents eternal life to the Egyp tians, Chi nese and Hebrews. Christ mas trees were intro duced to North America in the 17th century by Germanset- tiers. Christmas trees also became popular during the 19th cen tury in Austria, Switzerland, Poland and Holland. United Sutes missionar ies introduced Christmas trees to Ja pan and China in the 19th and 20th centuries. Christmas is regarded as festival of families and kids and presents are ex changed in many countries. For Christ mas in Italy they set up ‘preseptios,’ which are tiny versions of the Nativity story. ‘Ceppos,’ early Italian Christ mas trees, shelf Nativity scenes and gifts. Most Italian children have their own ‘ceppo.’ In Spain Christmas is one of the most elaborate and busiest “fiestas” of theyear. After attending church Christ mas morning, the rest of the day is spent at home with family. In the evening, everyone gathers in the vil lage square for merry making. A tradi tion in Spain is that everyone’s name in the village is put into ! an Urn of Fate. Two names are drawn out at a time and fate decides who shall be friends for the year. France concen trates on family unity, church at tendance and wor ship on Christmas day. The Christmas celebra tion begins on Christ mas Eve when chil dren build a Nativity photo by Jan Seate/Laura Ross ^(^cne from the figures their moth ers give them. Church bells ding at midnight, and after mass each family has a tradi tional feast. Before going to bed, the children set their shoes in front of the fireplace hoping Pere Noel, the Christ mas spirit, will fill them with nuts and sweets. The Giving Tree in Johnson Hall is a constant reminder of what the true meaning of Christmas is. photo by Jan Seate/Laura Ross Johnson Hall displays its Christmas finery to let the students know that administration is also looking forward to having a break over the holidays. December 6 is Saint Nicholas Day in Belgium. Children set up trees and expect St. Nicholas to fill it with gifts and good things to eat. In Belgium it is believed that St. Nick rides a horse so children put out water, hay, car rots and potatoes for the horse to eat. The Father of Christmas marches through the villages of Switzerland with his wife Lucy. He gives toys to the boys while his wife gives toys to all the girls. In French cantons of Switzerland the Christ child makes his, rounds in a sleigh drawn by rein deer. Sotmd familiar? In Denmark everyone attends church Christmas morning. Each house has decorative windows and garland. The houses are open to those who may come during the 12 days of Yuletide. It is said that when you attend someone’s house you must drink and eat the food they have set out for you or else you will have bad luck. Each child writes a letter telling what they want for Christmas, and it is placed in the window sill so the Wise Men can easily reach it in Po land. On Christmas Eve when the first star comes out families eat and after wards gather around the tree and sing carols. At midnight they attend the Shepherd’s mass. In Poland children do not receive gifts on Christmas be cause presents were given to them on the Feast of St. Nicholas December 2. In Romania they fast for two weeks before Christmas and eat their meal when the first star shines on Christmas Eve. On Christmas night boys sing carols and tell Christmas stories on the 25 of December On cnristmas Eve in Hungary chil dren recite verses of the Bible story of the Nativity before leaving school. When they get home their presents are un wrapped under the tree so they can see if St. Nick fulfilled his promise to bring what they wanted. On Christmas morn ing the Hungarians attend church and then return home to spend the day with only family and to enjoy a Christmas dinner. December 26th is called the second Christmas. This is the day to havepartiesand spend time with friends. Christmas is celebrated across the world in many unique styles. There seems to be a single belief throughout and that is that there is a Santa Claus. Although many of us are old enough to know our parents are Santa, it is still nice to think that the idea of one has spread to many countries. We are not the only ones who were fooled when we were young. When your family celebrates Christ mas remember that these traditions have been around and that many other people who may not look the same as you are celebrating the same. Goodwill to all women!

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