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!
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On the Thursday evening before Easter Day, the church bells in France fall silent. Adults tell the children that the bells have flown off to Rome to visit to the Pope and to collect the Easter eggs. The bells remain silent (absent) on Friday and Saturday, and then on Easter Sunday they return to the churches, droppings the eggs off along the way, and ring out over the country. They are known as “Les Cloches Volants” or the flying bells.
One game that is played on this day is to throw and catch a raw egg. If you drop and break your egg you are out, and the winner is the last person left with their egg still intact.
As Poisson d’avril is so close to Easter, chocolate fish as well as chocolate eggs are included in the sweet treats at his time.
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Different regions of Switzerland have different traditions, for example in one region in the south of Switzerland they perform a passion play on the Thursday before Easter Day. In another region, in the west of the country there is a “weeping women parade” where the women carry red cushions with nails and a crown of thorns.
It is the cuckoo who brings the Easter eggs in Switzerland, and so in the run up to the festival, the shops have displays of baskets of eggs and cuckoos.
Easter Day itself begins with an Easter egg hunt for children, with a prize for the person who finds the most eggs.
Easter Monday brings another game: the adults have to try to break the children’s decorated eggs with a 20 cent coin. If they succeed, they get to keep the egg and the money, but if they lose the child gets the 20 cents.
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As with many things in Germany, different regions have different traditions for Easter. In some regions it’s the Easter fox who delivers the chocolate eggs; in others it’s the Easter rooster or the Easter stork. However the Österhase (the Easter hare or Easter bunny) is slowly taking over all of the regions.
In the north of the country, fires are lit to celebrate the end of the cold winter months and to welcome spring. They are lit on the Saturday night and kept burning until the Sunday morning. This stems from a Pagan tradition which was believed to keep away sickness.
Another Germany Easter tradition is the Easter egg tree. It’s exactly what it sounds like – a tree with decorated eggs hanging from it. Sometimes, rather than decorating a whole tree, a twig in a vase is used.
A typical Easter meal would be a lamb dish, followed by a cream-filled cake in the shape of lamb.
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