Christmas Around the World, Take Two

A cross-cultural celebration, Christmas has been translated into a multitude of languages and customs. Although we here in Southeast Texas religiously observe Christmas with such treasured traditions as sweet potato pie, fried turkey, and short-sleeves, curiosity is nevertheless piqued by the international and exotic; so, in what has become an annual endeavor, The StickerTalk invites you to embark on an international expedition to explore Christmas traditions around the world!

  • English folk tales claim that the devil died when Jesus Christ entered our world. To commemorate this triumph of truth and virtue, Christians congregate at certain churches to hear the tolling of the “devil’s knell,” a tradition in which church bells are rung to celebrate Christ’s inspiring victory over evil. Perhaps the most famous ringing of the devil’s knell occurs at All Saints Church in Dewsbury. A single tenor bell rings once for every year that has passed since the birth of Christ, commencing at approximately 10 p.m. and ending exactly at the stroke of midnight.
  • Jolabokaflod is observed in Iceland on Christmas Eve night. According to tradition, each person receives a new book on December 24 and dedicates the remainder of the day to delving through its pages. This celebration traces its roots back to World War II when Icelandic citizens found their customary Christmas gift exchanges thwarted by material rations. However, paper continued to flow freely, making books the perfect Christmas gift.
  • Christmas in Uganda and other East African countries showcases stark differences from the American version of the holiday. The nation’s extreme poverty severely limits commercialism, allowing Ugandans more clarity in the religious aspects of the celebration. New clothes to sport at church along with gifts of home-grown food serve as heartfelt replacements for first-world luxuries while rocks, leaves, and other natural items are gathered as Christmas presents for Jesus. The customary Christmas meal typically features roasted goat as the headlining dish.

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