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Holidays Across the World

posted Dec 11, 2013, 12:47 PM by School Publications

As the holidays approach, families across the United States are preparing for festivities and traditions that trace back hundreds of years. Decorated trees, menorahs, stockings, nativity scenes, sweet treats, brightly-wrapped gifts, and many more novelties can be found scattered throughout homes. But what about other places? Across the world, how are people celebrating the holidays?

The people of Alaska have customs unique to the area. The children wander about carrying long poles with a colorful star attached. They sing carols as they go, roaming from house to house. For a seasonal treat, the people enjoy fish pie, called piruk, and smoked salmon.

In Russia, hay is spread across the floors and tables at celebrations. This is said to encourage horse feed to grow in the coming year. Along with this, the people make clucking noises to inspire their hens to lay eggs.

The Portuguese hold a feast, known as Consada. During the holiday celebration, they set extra places around the table for the souls of their dead family members. They give gifts of food to the souls, believing that this will make their fortunes good the following year.

Children in Britain write letters with wish lists to Father Christmas, similar to Santa Claus. Then, they throw them in the fireplace to be caught in the smoke. The letters are said to float up the chimney and fly to the North Pole. However, if the child's letter catches on fire first, he or she has to rewrite it.

This year, as you are enjoying your own holiday traditions, think about the history and meanings behind them. Appreciate your customs, respect those of others, and enjoy the holiday season (and a slice of fish pie)!

by Katie Carson