Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Different Customs, Same Holiday?

In talking with students and collecting observations over the last week, I've learned a little about how Christmas is celebrated here. One student shared that she cut out a paper tree and stockings, which her family then wrote Christmas wishes on. She said they used to buy artificial trees but don't anymore. Although I've seen some small artificial trees for sale, I still haven't seen any live ones. And the absence of pine scent this time of year has become increasingly apparent. Meanwhile, Christmas cakes are all the rage. They're elaborately decorated and sold everywhere (see photos below). A student told me that before his family eats the cake, they sing the "Congratulations Song" -I'm not sure what song this is but will be sure to listen for it.

A sampling of Christmas cakes:

When shopping for Christmas cards, I couldn't find any that were remotely connected to the birth of Jesus. At the same time, however, I saw an abundance of cards that were covered in hearts and romantic messages. I've since learned that for many, Christmas is a couples holiday not unlike Valentine's Day.

All of this makes me wonder:  if people didn't learn about it at church, would anyone know why they're celebrating Christmas? This question applies to Americans as well... it's just that growing up the way I did, I never thought about it from this perspective.

My Christmas wish is that the words of Luke 2:11 will resonate with you:
Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.

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