A large turnout of people at the Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Outlook put a holiday spotlight on the seemingly-endless number of different cultures and ethnic backgrounds that are located right in our own backyard.
Held on Sunday, December 18, the third annual ‘Christmas Around The World’ event showcased and celebrated how a number of nations around the globe mark Christmas and the holiday season.
Performances, a long table of delicious food, and visiting among everyone in the room helped make for an unforgettable atmosphere and event just a week before the holiday weekend was set to take place.
Upon their arrival to the church, guests were invited to write their name on a sticker tag and wear it, a way of helping complete strangers perhaps become new friends.
The audience was entertained by a number of different performances, including a rendition of ‘Silent Night’ sung in Afrikaans, English and Chinese, a performance of the Heron Christmas Carol by Mark and Janet Gross, and a Filipino group of six women performing several Christmas carols sung in their native language.
Giving a perspective on the diversity shown in the room, people who were born in countries outside of Canada were asked to stand and show that their homeland was being represented. After running through a gamut of countries, everyone at that point was now aware that the room was filled with people who came from many walks of life, including Mexico, South Korea, the Netherlands, the Philippines, the Ukraine, China, Russia, South Africa, Eritrea, England, India, the United States, and Norway. With that, most in the room stood when Canada was also mentioned.
Some interesting facts about how other cultures celebrate Christmas:
- In the Philippines, Christmas is celebrated far sooner than in other cultures, starting as early as September and lasting variously until either Epiphany, the Feast of the Black Nazarene on January 9, or the Feast of the Santo Nino on the third Sunday of January. One of the most iconic holiday items sold during the season is the ‘parol’, or Christmas lantern, known as one of the most beloved symbols of the holiday season.
- In Germany, a big part of the Christmas celebration is advent, with several different types of advent calendars used in German homes. As well as the traditional one made of card that are used in many other countries, there are ones made out of a wreath of fir tree branches, with 24 decorated boxes or bags hanging from it.
- In Mexico, the celebration of Christmas is called ‘las posadas’ and begins on December 16, with the ninth evening being ‘Buena Noche’, or Christmas Eve. The children lead a procession to the church and place a figure of the Christ child in the ‘nacimiento’, or nativity scene, followed by midnight mass.
- In China, Christmas trees are called ‘Trees of Light’, and Santa Claus is called Dun Che Lao Ren, which means ‘Christmas Old Man’. Non-Christian Chinese people call this season the Spring Festival, and celebrate with many festivities that include hearty meals and paying respects to their ancestors.
With this being the third ‘Christmas Around The World’ event in Outlook, it’s safe to say that the presence of numerous different cultures and people of various backgrounds helped make it a success, and likely a continued traditional event that puts a spotlight on celebrating the diversity that calls this area home.