Feliz Navidad: Different versions of Christmas

Carolina Rodriguez, co-opinions editor

Christmas is my favorite holiday. 

Ever since I was little, I have counted down the days on my chocolate Advent calendar. I love the holiday because we get to spend time with family and friends, but also because of all the different ways it can look. 

Christmas is a holiday celebrated around the world, different parts of the world celebrate in their own ways and add their own special touch. 

I go to Guadalajara, Mexico every year around Christmas to see my family. We have the traditional pine tree with shiny presents under it that we open on Christmas morning. We also have other traditions. Since Mexican culture is very centered around religion, specifically Catholicism, our traditions are mostly religious.  

I have been to various posadas throughout my life. Posadas are religious celebrations that honor the journey that Mary and Joseph made to Bethlehem. 

We break open colorful, shiny pinatas with seven peaks.  The seven peaks represent the Seven Deadly Sins and by breaking them with a stick we essentially fight evil and the contents, candy and oranges are a reward. We blindfold ourselves and whack them until the sweets spill out. 

We also dance and eat delicious food such as pozole. This dish is a rich brothy soup made with pork. We top pozole with shredded cabbage, cilantro, radishes, and lime. 

But the most important part of the celebration is that we take a moment to reenact Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem. We assign roles, sing hymns and pray while holding candles. That is by far my favorite part. It is a beautiful moment when we stand outside in the warm evening lost in a sea of lights.

In other parts of the world, different cultures have their own way of celebrating Christmas. For example, in Poland, they start the celebration on Dec 24, which is known as Wigilia. Polish Wigilia begins with the appearance of the first star which represents the star of Bethlehem, so children usually go outside and look for it on Christmas Eve. 

They also have a big family dinner which cannot begin until all family members have broken opłatek (Christmas wafers) together and exchanged well-being wishes. There are 12 dishes served that correspond with the 12 apostles. Some dishes include carp, herring, pierogi and poppyseed cake. 

The night ends with midnight Christmas mass called Pasterka (Shepard’s mass) which refers to the shepherds who were told of Jesus’ birth by angels, according to study.gov.pl. 

Iceland also has rich traditions. On Aðfangadagur (Christmas Eve) families sit down for dinner consisting of lamb and ptarmigan (bird) and more. 

They also play a game in which they make a big pot of porridge and hide an almond in it. If you get the almond then you get a gift as a prize that was specifically bought for the game, according to grayline.is. 

It’s important to embrace those who have different holiday traditions. There isn’t one specific way that Christmas should look. Whatever traditions you celebrate this holiday season, the meaning is still there, it is a time to spend with family friends. 

 There is a vast amount of traditions to learn about, all beautiful in their own way. This Christmas season, open yourself up to new traditions, maybe you can incorporate them into your own.