Christmas Across the World

Dec 22 2012, 4:56 pm

During Christmas do you hear what I hear?

How do you say Merry Christmas? Around here it’s likely to be, “Y’all have a Merry Christmas.” Or maybe, according to your heritage, you say one of these.

Mele Kalikimaka- Hawaiian

Feliz Navidad- Spanish

Joyeux Noël – French

Fršhliche Weihnachten!  – German

Buon Natale! – Italian

I will also say, I’m far more likely to hear boat motors then sleigh bells.

Do you see what I see?

When we think of the different ways to celebrate Christmas we generally think nationality differences and continental differences. Right here in this country Christmas is celebrated in dozens, if not hundreds of different ways. I grew up in Florida. We made our own wreaths from cedar boughs or magnolia leaves, decorated with holly and humongous pinecones. Garlands were made of the same material all of which we gathered ourselves. Table decorations could be palm fronds, magnolia leaves, holly and citrus fruit punctured with cloves. It was the job of the cousins to decorate the citrus with whole cloves. I associate the smell of cedar, drying citrus and cloves with Christmas.

Christmas never included snow but I see white, but it’s beach sand, not snow.

Our big family tradition was to celebrate Christmas Eve at my aunt’s century old home. Many times all the doors and windows were open because it was so warm. There were a few times we had a fire in the fireplace. When that happened the room was so toasty we didn’t spend much time in there. I’ve spent Christmas in many places from Hawaii to the Midwest and back to Florida. I loved being immersed in the local traditions wherever I was and decorated accordingly.

Back in Florida now my decorations reflect where I live, the beach.

My Santas are in floral print shirts and/or shorts. I love decorating the palm trees with lights. DSC00144DSC00132









My tree has a giant starfish at the top, mermaids, flamingo and starfish lights. On my tree are twinkle lights covered with shells and plastic flamingos and starfish.

Outside I see poinsettias in everyone’s garden and palm trees are wrapped with Christmas lights. Wreaths are decorated with shells. DSC00606

After Christmas, I see Santa in his bright print shorts riding a yellow bicycle on the beach or surfing. No joke!

Christmas here feels warm. The evenings can be chilly and damp this time of year. Warm days and cool nights bring late night and early morning fog. Still many of the holiday parties are indoor outdoor by the pool parties.

Do you have your celebration Christmas Eve or Christmas Day? How does Santa arrive at your house? In Hawaii he goes between the islands dressed in print shorts and sandals in an outrigger canoe pulled by four pigs. His helpers are the menehune. Little people of the islands who live in the deep forest. In Norway he dresses in a heavy woolen red outfit and arrives in a sled pulled by reindeer. His elves help deliver the gifts. In Florida, sometimes Santa comes in a boat. His helpers are big burly guys who answer to Bubba and help deliver gifts with their trucks. Santa appears to some children in this country in Marine Corps dress blue uniforms.

Do you have any family tradition? Christmas lifesaver boxes went in every stocking. Wasn’t Christmas without them. My Christmas taste experience has a Spanish influence. Christmas Eve dinner is Paella, saffron rice cooked with chicken, pork, and a variety of seafood. Ali Oli, a garlic, mayonnaise like, spread eaten with crispy bread slices. (BTW we were never bothered by vampires) frittata (a potato omelet), roast pork, flan, and citrus rind candy.

                                                                nellie cigar 001At the family Christmas Eve party a dear auntie would smoke a stogie and drink down three fingers of bourbon. It was a tradition and she did it until she was 85.






                Maybe you go to Rockefeller center to ice skate or to the Plaza in Kansa City (with three hundred thousand other people) to see the lights come on. Or to the water to see a holiday regatta with boats decked out in Christmas lights.

Whatever you do I wish you a very Merry Christmas


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