Was On A Stage At 5 Years Old Masked Singer Christmas – Unique Celebrations & Traditions in Alaska, Africa & Australia!

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Christmas – Unique Celebrations & Traditions in Alaska, Africa & Australia!

Christmas is a celebrated event in many countries around the world. Here are three countries, Alaska, Africa and Australia, located in completely different areas of the world and each with their own unique traditions and celebrations. Here are some of their fascinating traditions and celebrations.

Alaska – “Carrying the Star” is a traditional Christmas procession. Young and old alike carry elaborate tinsel-decorated eight-spoke wheels, usually the size of umbrellas. They are highlighted by a central image of either an angel or a nativity scene. They are carried for three nights from January 7 on icy snow roads. The stars represent the angels who announced the birth of Christ. Families lovingly maintain the stars. Some are over a hundred years old!

Africa – Approximately 350 million Christians celebrate Christmas in Africa. The emphasis is on the religious celebration of Christ’s birth rather than the giving of gifts. Although the most common gift (if nothing else) is a new outfit to wear to the service. People in many countries in Africa, such as the Central African Republic (SAR), Uganda, Kenya, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, believe that going to church on Christmas Day is an absolute must, even if they never go the rest of the year. The festivities now include an annual Christmas parade and groups of carolers singing Christmas carols in the villages.

Churches in Africa begin intensive preparations for Christmas many months before. No one escapes the Christmas feeling as they say, it feels like the whole country is preparing for the birth of Jesus with so many joyful and active community preparations! The streets are alive with music, radio, television and just everywhere you look! People joyfully visit their friends and relatives in a spirit of communal celebration regardless of religious beliefs. It is common to see brightly colored and decorated trucks, cars and buses, as well as homes, schools, churches and neighborhoods, which often boast creative festive displays made from colorful crepe papers. Africa is colorful and alive with joyful celebrations! The ancient and spectacular masquerades locally called “Agugu” now play a major role in Christmas celebrations. Usually, after the Christmas Eve service, there is a joyous parade of dancing and music through the streets led by local bands with dancing masquerades (usually young boys dressed in fancy and colorful costumes) and Christmas revelers. People march with large intricately made lanterns called “fanals” usually shaped like houses or ships.

In Ghana, Christmas dinner is complete with fufu (a thick dough-like dish) and okra soup, and in Liberia, rice, beef and crackers are the order of the day. Zimbabweans make sure there is plenty of bread, jam and tea to go with their prized goat meat, which is their traditional Christmas roast. On the west coast of Africa, most houses have an oil palm for their Christmas tree.

Austria – Saint Nicholas is widely worshiped and appears on his feast day on December 6. In Austria, it is a separate holiday from Christmas. He appears in his traditional attire of flowing robes and high bishop’s miter carrying a shepherd’s staff and a thick book. It is believed that the good and bad deeds of children are recorded in his book! It used to be a tradition to hold an elaborate Christmas Eve ceremony where Saint Nicholas and the dreaded Ruprecht (a demonic creature that wears leather, has glowing eyes and a long red tongue) appear on Christmas Eve. The children gather and sing a hymn to welcome the saint. Then, one by one, the children join the Saint at the family table, where he checks their textbooks and asks them to repeat the prayer he says. This ends with the kids kissing his Bishops ring while he tells them to go put their shoes outside and look at them when the clock strikes ten! Ruprecht stands above the door and watches the children’s every move! Before Nicholas leaves, he blesses the children and sprinkles them with holy water and quietly and quickly leaves. The children, with great excitement, then rush to place the shoes in front of their homes. At the stroke of ten, the children run outside to find shoes full of apples and nuts!

Austria is a predominantly Catholic country known as the land of the sound of music and the home of Mozart, Strauss and Schubert. Part of the Christmas celebrations is the “Advent Concert Series” in Innsbruck. It features groups of family singers and instrumentalists similar to the famous “Trapp Family” from “The Sound of Music”. Another famous Christmas celebration is in Salzburg, where the hottest ticket of the season is the “Salburger Adventsingen”. It is a program of Advent music and folk traditions that began more than half a century ago. Each year they receive over 100,000 applications for the prized 30,000 tickets available for entry. For the traditional Christmas Eve dinner, fish carp is served.

Austria is famous for its miniature nativity figures. Almost all families have a manger with miniature figures of the holy family and often several animals in it. Many crèches are hundreds of years old, valuable heirlooms passed down from generation to generation!

Austrian Epiphany celebrations – boys and girls dress up in oriental costumes and sing traditional songs on Epiphany Day (which commemorates the three wise men from the East who were looking for the just-born Jesus). They move from house to house and receive small gifts including monetary gifts. They carry a lantern referred to as the “lit star of Bethlehem” to guide them on their journey. It is popular to see people chalk the initials of the sages “CMB” (Casper, Melchior, Balthasar) on their door rails!

The Austrian fun tradition of Krampus Day – December 5th is known as Krampus Day in Salzburg. Krampus is considered an evil spirit. He is usually clad in terrifying fur, wears deer horns, a mask with a long red tongue and bulging red eyes, and carries a staff of birch wood. He bursts down the street with a loud rumble, using huge cowbells and rattling chains, shouting menacingly at onlookers. Thousands, including many children, throng the streets to watch the medieval event. With much laughter and merriment, whenever children and adults see Krampus, they throw snowballs at this menacing figure. The town hosts a “Krampus Run” every year with fun and lots of teasing, poking and laughing. It is said that the purpose of Krampus is to remind children to be good!

Recently, in some communities, Krampus actors are required to wear a number to identify them under the mask in case they lose control. Some have been known to get carried away after drinking a few too many schnapps or beers. A prominent Austrian child psychiatrist advocated the banning of Krampus. He suggests that he is a “jolly old scarecrow” for children. However, there have been few known cases of “Krampus trauma”!

Australia – Christmas falls in the middle of summer and the heat can be over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. It is common for people to have outdoor barbecues for the main Christmas feast and parks and beaches are often alive with family feasts. It’s not unusual to see a thong, shorts, beer in hand and a Santa hat on the chef (usually the father in the family) at a Christmas BBQ, which is almost always followed by Australia’s most popular desert ‘Pavlova’. It is light and delicate like Anna Pavlova, the famous Russian ballerina after whom it is named.

Australian Carols by Candlelight – Australia’s Christmas Day carol service was started in 1937 by radio broadcaster Norman Banks. Famous artists gather to sing at “Carols by Candlelight” in Melbourne every year. A very popular annual event broadcast across the country. Carols are played on a stage for a huge audience, where thousands of people walk outside holding lit candles.

Beach visited on Christmas Day in Australia – up to 40,000 people visit Sydney’s Bondi Beach on Christmas Day! It’s the middle of summer in Australia, and with the rising temperatures, BBQ lunches on the beach and swimming are popular while waiting for Santa to arrive on the boat on Christmas Day!

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