International Christmas Traditions

Megan Benoit, Campus Carrier Features Editor

Leo Narrison, Campus Carrier Asst. Features Editor

From Puerto Rico to Costa Rica to the shores of Bermuda, holiday traditions are beloved people across the world.

Many traditions form over the years and are passed down from generation to generation. The meaning of a tradition reflects the heart and value those who participate. Some traditions are unique certain countries and their culture.

Freshman Lizzy Madeiros was born and raised in Bermuda, where there are several unique holidays throughout the year. For every holiday in Bermuda people wear masks, tall and colorful hats and costumes, called Gombey, dance, blow whistles and play drums in the streets.

“They come out at every holiday, and a lot of little children are terrified of them because they wear these masks, but they are really fun,” Madeiros said.

Some of the Bermudian Christmas traditions are similar to those in the United Kingdom. One of these traditions includes Christmas Crackers.

“Traditionally, everyone at the dinner table crosses their hands and pulls them apart, and the Christmas Crackers pop,” Madeiros said. “They have something in them that makes burning smell like a firework went off. Inside of them there is a little paper hat, a little card with a joke on it and a toy.”

Many cultures have traditions centered around food. America, a traditional holiday dinner would involve a turkey or ham and some sides. In Bermuda and the UK, Yorkshire pudding is an important aspect of the meal, while in Costa Rica it is customary to make tamales during the holiday season.

Sophomore Orlando De la O Marchena, who is originally from Costa Rica, spends an entire day with his family making tamales from scratch.

“It’s a big process,” De O Marchena said. “My family will grow corn. Then, we grind the corn. We add in vegetables such as carrots, peppers and onions. Then, we wrap them in banana leaves.”

Freshman Melody Creamer has lived in Puerto Rico since she was 11 years old and enjoys the traditional holiday foods there.

“We always have pasteles,” Creamer said. “You take a plantain and mash it up with other stuff like garlic. Then, on the inside you put meat, and wrap it all together. Then you cook it in the plantain leaves. Then, for dessert we have tembleque, which is basically a coconut custard.”

During the Christmas season, the shopping malls in Puerto Rico turn into Christmas markets that sell traditional and local goods, food, candy and incenses.

“A couple times a day, they gather a group of people and with a lot of traditional instruments, and they sing Christmas carols around the mall,” Creamer said.

One of Creamer’s favorite Puerto Rican holiday traditions are the Parrandas. This is a Christmas festivity where decorated trucks play music and drive around with Santa or the three kings throwing candy.

“In Puerto Rico, Christmas isn’t just a couple days,” Creamer said. “It starts in October and goes all the way till Three King’s Day. So, it’s a season of lights and music. It’s never quiet, and it’s never dark.”

Holiday traditions vary from country to country, but the meaning of the holiday season and the Christmas spirit can be found across the world.

“Christmas is different for everybody, but it all has the same meaning underlining it,” Creamer said. “It is always good to celebrate Christmas with a different culture because you are celebrating the same thing, but you can see how they celebrate it differently. It unites people but it also celebrates those differences.”

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