Intercultural Christmas

07.12.2017 | Meldungen

Intercultural Christmas

On Air

The countdown has started! It is almost Christmas and everybody is looking forward to it, but because we celebrate Christmas the same way every year, Jule, from our Radio EPRO Team and David from Ghana travelled around the world, to find out, how people in different parts of the world experience the feast of love. They met Lani, from South Afrika, Sundae and Mia from the USA, Rodrigo from Brazil and Dorin from Israel. Each of them gave impressions of their memories and inspirations for a festive meal. These will come with some extra facts, which you probably did not know!

'Geseënde Kersfees'

Lani, South Africa, Pretoria

“My favourite Christmas ritual is gathering around the tree, singing Christmas carols and handing out gifts to my family”
“The atmosphere is very festive… so we would have lots of Christmas trees, decorations, I love to put lights on my house and all over my house…”
“But the weather is normally hot and sunny, so there is no snow or anything like that, which is always a pity for us, but sunny Christmas has a whole different feeling to it.”
 “At Christmastime food is very important, it’s a way to show each other that we care by making different dishes, but because its hot we will have a cooked Christmas dinner at Christmas eve and on Christmas day we will have a braai, which is like a BBQ, so we will have it outside, everybody is sitting around the fire, we will cook Boerewors and make pap and sauce, all things that are traditional for my country and that makes us feel at home.”
“Its very important to me to remember what Christmas is actually about, my family is a Christian family so we believe that this was the day when Jesus Christ was born, that god send us his son who would ultimately die for us so that we can have eternal life.”

Facts: Christmas in South Africa

…is very different from Christmas we know. Weather is an important factor, because on the southern hemisphere it is midsummer around Christmas time and public schools will have their big holyday. So lots of families use that time to go camping on the coast or in a game reserve to see wild animals. They also take part in church service, the most widespread religion in south Africa is Christianity, which is related to its history, but unlike us, they won’t go on Christmas evening, but on Christmas morning the 25th.

In Afrikaans (one of the languages spoken in South Africa) Happy/Merry Christmas is 'Geseënde Kersfees'; in Zulu it's 'UKhisimusi omuhle', in Sesotho it's 'Le be le keresemese e monate' and in Xhosa it's 'Krismesi emnandi'.
Because of South Africans History, carols were brought from Europe, where they were not sung for a religious purpose in the first place. They were actually composed for the Winter Solstice celebration as a dance next to a song. (Carol: dance/song of praise and joy)


South Africa has lots of delicious, traditional food. Here are two dishes, that are famous around Christmas and the summer season:
Boerewors are ‘round barbecue sausages made of beef, pork, and lamb. In Afrikaans language, “boer” means farmer and “wors” means sausage.’
Their taste: ‘The flavored hot sausage subtly offers the taste of vinegar and coriander. Any pickled preparation or wine ideally complements such sausages.’
Malva Pudding (as a desert): ‘A baked dessert originally made by Cape Malay people.’
Its Taste: ‘The caramelized texture simply melts on your tongue with a domineering taste of apricot jam. However, to have a better sugary taste, ice-cream and custard can be consumed along with this.’
Got inspired? Look up the recipes and lots of other delectations:

“Marry Christmas”

Sundae, USA

“For me Christmas means family and playfulness and a time to connect.”
“When I grew up the weather normally was really, really cold, a typical white Christmas”
“On the American side we eat BBQ ribs and corn and lots of sweets at Christmas season”
“Presents play a big role when you have kids… it is so fun to watch my children pass out their presents and rip them open, when it’s time…, so it’s fun to give presents… and I remember fondly looking on to my nieces and nephews as they played the plastic recorder and some song they’ve been practicing around the Christmas season. That is a beautiful way to capture the feeling of Christmas, where everybody’s gathered together and the lights from the Christmas tree are glowing and there is this beautiful child sharing his or her talents, with the aunties and uncles looking on.”

Mia from Duxbury, Massachusetts, USA

“For me Christmas means… coming back together after a long year”
“My favourite Christmas ritual is we have something called wish paper, where you write a wish, or something you want to do in the next year, and then you wrap it up in a little tube and light it on fire and it flies into the air, so every year my family and I would go out on the back porch and send them off for luck for the new year.”
“One funny story that I do know about Christmas is, that about two years ago my old dog (the past few years he had no issue with the tree) was walking by and just like movies, he lifted his leg on the tree and for the rest of the season there was a little brown spot, where he lifted his leg…”


Facts: Christmas in the USA

On some American Christmas trees you are able to find ‘pop-corn threaded on string as a delicious decoration.
In some cities and regions (Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine), special 'Christmas Shops' sell Christmas equipment all year.
The story of the Christmas pickle:
1880: A common chain sold glass decoration in their stores. They were imported from Europe, Germany and designed as vegetables. These days a rumour was broadcasted about the pickle, that the Germans hide a pickle in their tree, as an old tradition and the child, who would find it first, will gain a present on top. Unfortunately, this was a total myth. But you still find the pickle as festive symbol around Christmas.


Americans like to eat turkey for Christmas, for example with lemon, bacon or different herbs and corn or mash potato as a side dish. Here some excellent recipes for your festive meal:


Dorin, Israel

“Hanukkah is about the victory of the Maccabees over the Greek, When the Maccabees came to the temple they found an oil lamp, they thought it will burn for one day, but it actually burned for eight days.”
“So on Hanukkah we light eight candles, on the first day one, the second day two…and on and on.”
“We also eat oily things, like donuts and hash browns.”
“We celebrate Hanukah in the winter, the atmosphere is warm, there are lights everywhere and people are singing the songs of Hanukkah”

Facts: The feast of lights in Israel:

History: The legend tells, that in the second century Jews revolted against their Greek-Syrian subduers (Maccabean Revolt) in Jerusalems second temple. Because of the oil lamp, that burned unexpectedly for eight days, they call it the feast of ‘dedication’ (=Hanukkah)
Usually it is celebrated in November or December
The Jews light the Chanukkiah, which is like a menorah (candlestick with seven arms), but with eight or nine arms, to light them day after day during Hanukkah


The hash browns are called latkes and are delicious and easy to make:

"Feliz Natal!"

Rodrigo, aus Pomerode, St Katharina, Brazilien

„Im Dezember ist bei uns Höhepunkt des Sommers, es kann dann auch mal 38 grad/ 40 grad warm sein. Meistens sind wir am Strand in unserem Strandhaus und feiern dort weihnachten. …Um Mitternacht gab es meistens die Geschenke“
„Aber nicht nur das Wetter ist toll, sondern auch das essen. Wir machen meistens Churrasco, also ganz viel Fleisch, mit Bohnen und Salat. Zum Nachtisch gibt es meistens so viel Kuchen dass man schon vom Hingucken zunimmt, *lacht* ‘Churrasco‘ kann mit auch mit enem BBG vergleichen. Man trinkt dann meistens auch einen Caipi oder auch zwei…“ *lacht*

Facts: Christmas in Brazil

As a tradition the Brazilian recreate ‘the bed of straw’ where Jesus was laid on
The Brazilian Santa Claus is called ‘Papai Noel’. It is told that he comes from Greenland and he became famous in the late 60’s imported from north America.
For Christmas decoration they often pick seasonal plants, like fresh flowers, to decorate their feast at the beach or in their homes


For Christmas eve, a widespread dish is Churrasco, which can be grilled outside, for example at the beach:

So, did you enjoy yourself reading this? Maybe you will give some of these international ideas a try for your own Christmas…
Happy holydays!