Christmas around the world!

Dec 22, 2021 Episode 78

Hear how Christmas is celebrated around the world, from beach barbecues to pooping Yuletide logs, nativity scenes to Santa’s on camels.

Episode Transcript

OPENING STING – LEELA: “New, new, newsy – Newsy Pooloozi!”


LEELA: Helllooo and welcome to this Christmas special episode of Newsy Pooloozi! I’m Leela Sivasankar Prickitt. And as frequent listeners to this world news podcast would know… I’m joined by the big story explainer and sound effects finder, otherwise known as my Mama.

MAMA: Deck the halls with bells of holly, fa la la la … Ohhhh, hehe. Hi, I’m Lyndee Prickitt, Leela’s mother and sidekick. And, yes, this is the most wonderful time of the year. That’s why we have a treat this week.

LEELA: Yep, this episode of Newsy Pooloozi we’re gonna learn how people from all over the world celebrate Christmas. And when I say all over…

MAMA: She means the entire world. From…

LEELA: Down Under in Australia to Taiwan and India in Asia.

MAMA: And Europe too – from the pooping yuletide logs of Spain.

LEELA: Yes, you heard her correctly – logs that poop out presents.

MAMA: To our correspondents in England and right up near the North Pole, well, ish, in Finland.

LEELA: And Kenya in Africa too – where they hang flowers and ribbons to decorate, who knew?

MAMA: And, of course, we’ll end it all off with good cheer in America, where we’ve arrived for a big, fat family Christmas in Texas.

LEELA: Fiiinally! Sooooo buckle up, y’all, we’re about to depart on our special Christmas around the world cheer!

MAMA: First up is… Asha Singh from Australia, who’s spent many Christmases – well, the way we spend Fourth of July in America – barbecuing on the beach, of course.

LEELA: Oh, and setting traps for Santa, so she can get some pictures of the jolly toy-giver. Take it away Asha!

ASHA: Nearly everywhere else. It is very cold at Christmas and in Australia, it’s so hot. It’s like it’s so nice to just get out on the beach, have fun. There are barbecues’. We go to the beach, we have seasonal fruits like mango and watermelon, and we have cold treats like ice creams. 

And we usually have seafood and salad when we have barbecues with sausages and some other meals sometimes. And my favorite part about Christmas is definitely trying to set traps for Santa. And I’m really hoping I can just try my best this year and get some footage of Santa or even maybe meet Santa. And then my other favorite part of Christmas is, of course, the presents..

LEELA: Oh, totally I think that’s everyone’s favorite part. Well, at least it’s high on most kids’ lists! Thanks, Asha! And if a barbecue on the beach doesn’t appeal, how about a feast of hotpot noodles?

MAMA: Oh, yum! I love noodles

LEELA: I have to confess, before I met Yuching Liu, our Taiwan correspondent, I didn’t realize that many people in EAST Asia celebrate Christmas too.

MAMA: Yes, not only has Christmas become a huge secular celebration all over the world  because who doesn’t like a bit of bright lights, good cheer and presents especially when it’s the dark-days of winter in the northern hemisphere. But countries like Taiwan and South Korea have small but strong Christian communities for whom Christmas is –

LEELA: – the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Alright then, tell us more, Yuching!

YUCHING: In Taiwan, lots of people celebrate Christmas. There are several Christmas markets too, which I can’t wait to see, but only some people, like my family, go to Church. I’m dressing up as an angel for a performance at a Church. 

Some people decorate their house with lights and put up a small Christmas tree, which I think is very pretty. Sometimes we prepare cookies and milk for Santa. Then the next morning the plate is empty. We also have a big Taiwanese feast. 

Later on Christmas Day, we have roast chicken, fried seafood, hotspot and some cakes. It is delicious. My favorite part is that I will get a Christmas gift, maybe from Santa. Merry Christmas, everyone, dad Jasmine, Danja koala

LEELA: Thanks, Yuching.  And, many countries in Africa have strong Christian communities too.

MAMA: Absolutely.

LEELA: But you’ll never guess how they decorate the homes and shops in Kenya in East Africa.

MAMA: Oh, Christmas trees and lights?

LEELA: Flowers and ribbons! And it’s warm in Kenya too, so, yes, they also have Christmas barbecues. And Santa doesn’t come on a sled there but a camel! As Theodorah Dhahabu Nyundo is about to tell us.

THEODORA: Christmas is a big deal in Kenya, with almost everyone traveling to their hometown to celebrate the festival season. Christmas in Kenya is an attempt to honor the birth of Jesus Christ, spend time with loved ones and eat lots of delicious food, but they also have a few unique traditions you might not know about, from Christmas Day barbecues to a camel riding center.

Christmas Day is always a huge occasion in Kenya, with a lot of neighbors and friends dropping by on Christmas Day to share this festival spirit. In the cities you will see houses and trees decorated with colorful ribbons. Red are the main colors, but we also have green and yellow. 

As for the Christmas tree, instead of traditional pine trees, you will see beautiful decorations. High pressed trees in Kenya, Christmas decorations aren’t common in the Royal areas of Kenya. Many people hire photographers to capture the special day and the family get together. And that’s how we Kenyans celebrate Christmas. 

LEELA: Wow! Thanks a lot, Theodora.

MAMA: I know – so interesting. Of course, there are millions of Christians in India too. But there are so many millions practicing other faiths as well, that you don’t really see Christmas everywhere.

LEELA: Except the malls and markets.

MAMA: Yeah, a festival is good for business. But here’s something interesting our listeners might not know – that some Indians in the major cities celebrate Christmas Day with a party a bit like Americans celebrate St Patrick’s Day.

LEELA: In other words, it’s an excuse to wear red, play Christmas songs and eat Western food.

MAMA: You got it. It’s more like a Western Culture party.

LEELA: Speaking of Western culture, it’s time to head to Europe where Christmas is EVERYWHERE – twinkling lights, music, winter markets and more. First stop – England with Jackson Hosking. No prizes for guessing what HIS favorite part is…!

JACKSON: All the days in December, leading up to the 24th, we open an Advent calendar. Normally in my household, it’s full of chocolates, but sometimes it’s Nativity scenes, Legos, that sort of thing. So on the 24th, we lay our presents under the tree. And then we don’t normally go to bed on time because you’re normally watching a Christmas movie. And on Christmas Day, we’ll rush downstairs as quickly as possible to open our presents. When that’s finished around maybe 8 o’ ‘Clock, we just chill out for a bit, maybe watch another Christmas movie, that sort of thing. 

And then when it gets to maybe 6-7 O clock, we have a Christmas dinner. Sometimes we stay at home during covet, we always do precovered. We’d go to a friend’s or family’s house to have Christmas dinner. We always have a big Turkey. Then we have pigs in blankets, roast potatoes, sprouts, that sort of thing. Then we go to bed and then it’s Boxing Day. On Boxing Day, all the shops are closed. it’s normally just sitting around and watching movies and things. My favorite thing about Christmas is probably the presents. When I was younger, I always used to wake up at midnight.  And set my alarm for midnight and instantly go over my presents. 

LEELA: Thanks a lot, Jackson. But I want to know – did you re-wrap those presents you opened at midnight???

MAMA: Sneaky, Jackson. I’ve never done anything like that before.

LEELA: Mama! You too?!

MAMA: Well, once maybe. When I was a very young child… Moving along… Now let’s head up north – in fact, as close to the North Pole as most kids can get – yes, we’re talking Finland.

LEELA: Aha – that would be our Finnish correspondent Ameyaa Kohli –

MAMA: Who says Santa doesn’t come down the chimney, but knocks on the door on Xmas Eve to deliver presents!

LEELA: What?! That’s bonker-brains! But I suppose when you’re that close to Lapland 

MAMA: Home of Santa’s Grotto, some say.

LEELA: Then I guess different rules apply! Tell us more, Ameyaa.

AMEYAA: I am very lucky because I spent Christmas in Finland. There is usually a lot of snow and you can even go ride your own dog’s Letting Santa Claus come on Christmas Eve as he doesn’t come down the chimney, he knocks on the door. We eat lots of delicious food like urinator and gingerbread cookies. We always start the day with my grandma’s special rice porridge, which has a nut hidden in it. If we are lucky, we see the Northern lights and go ice skating. A couple of years ago I flew to Lapland, which is the home of Santa Claus. He lives in Korattur III. Lapland is so beautiful and, you know, there is so much snow that even the trees look alien. 

LEELA: So much snow even the trees look alien?! How cool is that? But, well, it’s the Spanish that have the… I’m not sure cool is the right word…

MAMA: Odd, perhaps?

LEELA: Yes, I think a log that you have to “feed” so that it poops out presents is definitely odd.

NINA AND MARK: Hi, this is Nina Ranina. I’m Archie Granina, and we live in Barcelona, Spain, of Catalonia, where in Christmas we celebrate the galatillo and the galatillo is a log where you have to feed him some food in order for him to poop out presents. But to make them poop out presents, you have to beat him with a stick and you have to feed

them every night before Christmas. And you have to sing him a song which goes a Merry Christmas to anchor a Merry Christmas good night.

LEELA: Wow – thanks you guys – loved that song!

MAMA: Totally – well done, y’all!

LEELA: It’s so cool how people are, well, I guess united at Christmas but all celebrate it a little differently.

MAMA: Totally. No camels or beach barbecues for us. But what’s so special about holiday traditions – to me – is always doing the same special thing, like rituals, every year.

LEELA: Decorating the house the day after Thanksgiving.

MAMA: Yep – whether we’re in India or America. Decorating the tree. Putting up the ceramic nativity scene –

LEELA: That my grandmother made.

MAMA: And, finally, being able to sing or play Christmas music! (And not – until then, thank you very much.)

LEELA: I love Christmas music the best.

MAMA: Then on Christmas Eve, going to church, before going home and getting to open one present.

LEELA: And my grandfather reading the Night Before Christmas.

MAMA: And the story of Jesus’ birth. Then trying as hard as you can to go to sleeeeeep 

LEELA: Knowing Santa’s coming… !

MAMA: and waking up to…

BOTH: Presents!

MAMA: And your favorite bit?

LEELA: Presents! No, I’m just kidding. Well, I’m not – but it’s tied with being with my big American family. And opening presents! Christmas is the best. I mean, Halloween, Diwali and Easter are also great… Oh, I don’t know – I love them all!

MAMA: Well, it’s Christmas now so…

BOTH: Merry Christmas and Happy holidays! (Sing) Happy holidays, happy holidays, happy holidays. While the merry bells keep ringing, happy holidays to you.