Christmas was only introduced into Hawaii in the 18th century, by Missionaries. Before that the Hawaiians had a festival of their own, called Makahiki. This was a time of peace, when no one was allowed to go to war, and the people gave thanks to the gods for food and the fertility of the Land.
Nowadays Christmas is celebrated with lights and a Christmas tree, and a dinner of roast pig. Santa comes, but he is carried in a red canoe pulled by 9 dolphins – and he’s more likely to be wearing a Hawaiian shirt than a red furry jacket.
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Christmas in Mexico is a celebration that spans several weeks, beginning on December 3rd with the Festival of the Virgin of Guadalupe, and ending on February 2nd with the Día de la Candelaria, with Las Posadas and Los Santos Inocentes in between.
Christmas trees are not traditional in Mexico but they are becoming more common because of the influence from the USA. The most important decoration though is a Nacimiento, or nativity scene. They are set up on December 12th and Jesus is added to it on Christmas Eve, and the Three Kings are added on the 5th of January.
On Christmas Eve there is a late mass called la Misa de Gallo (Mass of the Rooster), so called because a rooster is said to have crowed at midnight on the night Jesus was born. After mass there is a meal, traditionally roast pig Pig, but nowadays often turkey, and just a few small presents brought by Santa (another influence from USA) . Christmas Day itself is quiet, and usually spent with the family.
On the night of 5th January, children leave their shoes by the door and the Three Wise Men visit and leave the bigger presents. The following day there is more eating, including the Roscón de Reyes, to decide who will pay for the tamales at Candlemas!
Related posts: How do they celebrate Christmas in Spain, How do they celebrate Christmas in Denmark, How do they celebrate Christmas in Italy.
Christmas Eve in Poland is a day of fasting. When the first star comes out in the evening, the family sit down together to eat. This star is to represent the Star of Bethlehem, and children are always keen to spot it so that the festivities can begin.
Often hay is placed under the tablecloth as a reminder that Jesus was born in a manger, and there is always a spare place set in case a stranger should come looking for food and shelter.
There are 12 dishes – some sources say this is one for each month, others that it’s one for each of the Apostles – and it is considered lucky to try to eat all 12. The centerpiece is carp, and none of the other 11 dishes contain meat, as a reminder that there were animals in the stable and that they too played their part in welcome in Jesus. In fact tradition says that on Christmas Eve the animals can talk – should they wish to!
The first dish to be eaten is an opłatek, which is a wafer with religious pictures engraved into it. They are shared, and as you share, you forgive and are forgiven for any offences caused throughout the year.
After the meal there are presents and these are brought by St Nicholas, the little star (or the Starman) or Ded Moroz, depending on whereabout in Poland you live.
Las Posadas are processions which take place in Mexico on nine consecutive evenings leading up to Christmas Eve. A boy and a girl are chosen to represent Mary and Joseph and they process through the town, carrying lanterns and candles, and re-enacting the story of Joseph and Mary being turned away from the inns.
They sing at each of the houses they stop at. Each night a different house is chosen to be the one that offers shelter, and a party is hosted there. There is a meal with carols (called villancicos), small gifts of fruit and sweets are exchanged and the children break a piñata shaped like a star.
The Virgin Mary is the patron saint of Mexico. The story says that she appeared three times in December 1531 to a poor man by the name of Juan Diego. Each time, she told him to tell the bishop to build a church on that spot.
After the first two appearances the bishop didn’t believe the story, but after the third time a rose bush grew on the spot where she had appeared, and her image could be seen on Juan Diego’s cloak. After that, the bishop believed him and the church, the Basilica de Guadeloupe, was built.
The festival of the Virgin of Guadeloupe begins the Christmas celebrations in Mexico. It lasts for nine Days, from 3rd to 12th December and pilgrimages are made to the church during this time. On the 11th December there are fireworks and light displays and people dance until the following morning which is her feast day.