Christmas in Our Corners of the World – December 2019 Edition
Some of our friends are celebrating Christmas in deep pine forests next to cozy fires, some are repainting their homes and putting in new linoleum, and some are watching decorated boats heading out to sea. Here’s a look at how Christmas is celebrated in the places we serve.
Christmas in Alaska
If Christmas is supposed to be accompanied by tranquil brisk temperatures, pine forests, knee-deep snow, and cozy fires, Alaska may be the Christmas capital of the world. Some of the most distinct traditions in The Last Frontier include caroling children carrying a pole with a star on top through the deep darkness of winter solstice—neighbors will serve fish pie, smoked salmon, or maple-frosted doughnuts. Outdoor ice skating in Alaska with the Northern lights blazing against the mountains like being in a surreal Christmas card. Remote villages in Alaska will pull the entire community together and all of the children will exchange gifts.
Christmas in Belize
A Belizean Christmas Holiday usually starts on December 22nd and runs through January 5th. One of the biggest Christmas traditions is the Christmas meal, a nicely baked ham, cheese dip, rice & beans, baked chicken and many delicious desserts such as yellow cake, black cake, fruit cake, etc. Sharing with neighbours is also a big part of our Christmas tradition.
Belizean families are big, and during Christmas friends and family from all over leave their busy schedules to be with loved ones they don’t normally see. It’s the time most families pull out their savings to get a new dash of paint on their homes, wash the windows, and change out the old linoleum. Children look forward to a new pair of jeans or two with matching shirts, and they get to dump their year-old sneakers for a new pair.
Christmas is a time to tell and retell the family stories. It’s the time where everyone shares their achievements and struggles. It’s the week the elders in the family give advice, a time to show appreciation for those you love.
It is also a time when Christians come together to celebrate the birth of Christ and enjoy the fellowship with each other in worship and a Christmas party. It’s the most favorite time of the year for all in Belize, kids and adults alike setting off fireworks and all the other goodies that happen during Christmas. It makes Belize a truly blessed country to live in.
Christmas in Puerto Rico
In typical Puerto Rican style, Christmas is anything but typical. The island loves to celebrate and does so wholeheartedly whenever the opportunity presents itself. The celebrations begin long before Christmas day and last nearly to February! Just like the history of Puerto Rico, most holidays are a mix of Spanish, African, Taino, and American culture rolled into one big Puerto Rican celebration.
Tres Reyes or “Three Kings” is the most iconic theme across the island during the Christmas season and takes the place of Santa Claus as the most common childhood story and theme of the season. A tradition passed down for generations, Puerto Rican children celebrate Three Kings Day (El Día de los Reyes), otherwise known as “Epiphany”, by filling a shoebox with grass and placing it under the beds of their parents, aunts, and uncles on the eve of Epiphany, January 5th. Although some claim the family members of the children remove the grass in the middle of the night and replace it with a small gift, all the children of Puerto Rico know it is truly the camels of the Magi that eat the grass and the Magi, themselves, who leave a gift behind thankful for the sustenance provided to their camels.
Christmas in Texas
Texas traditions are steeped in Southern climate and culture. The annual Lighted Boat Parade down at the Matagorda Harbor is the place to be, always hoping for a cool breeze to blow by as the boats passed! Seashells would make for Christmas ornaments on a good ol’ Texas Pine. Pralines were a traditional Christmas treat using pecans, and homemade tamales were always a necessity at the dinner table. Driving around in Texas in December shows a lot of friendly neighborhood rivalries to see who could put up the most Christmas lights, with a hope of winning the “Best Decorated Neighborhood of the Year!”
We hope you’ve enjoyed learning about some of the differences in our Christmas traditions. The most important one is the same: we celebrate the birth of our Savior and recognize that Christmas is a fantastic time to tell others! Merry Christmas!