History of Christmas
The second custom is what is known as Boxing Day. It is celebrated the first weekday after Christmas. What this means is that small wrapped boxes with food and sweets, or small gifts, or coins are given to anyone who comes calling that day.
Santa is known as Father Christmas, wearing long red robes and had sprigs of holly in his hair. Instead of mailing out their christmas list, children throw it into the fireplace and Father Christmas reads the smoke. England is also where the tradition of hanging stockings by the chimney began, due to the fact that Father Christmas once accidentally dropped some gold coins on his way down the chimney which got caught in a drying stocking. Another interesting thing is that instead of opening up their gifts as soon as they wake up, English children wait until the afternoon.
Tiny clay figures are used in the Christmas Crèches, Mangers. These figures are most unique as they are dressed in what is popular in provincial clothing that year. The figures are Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus, the Wise Men, the Shepherds, and Angels.
The traditional Christmas Eve Dinner consists either of a specially cooked rice and goat or chicken stew or soup and is eaten before the Annual Christmas Worship Service and all friends and relatives as well as strangers are invited. The food consumed at the Christmas Day dinners may include rice, chicken, goat, lamb, and fruits of various kinds. There may be mangoes, oranges, pawpaw or cashew fruits. The families always brightly decorate the houses with beautiful paper ornaments specially made for the occasion. A tree in the center of the courtyard is also decorated. It may be a mango tree or a guava tree or a cashew tree. Usually the children and the young people in each family do this. Not only homes but also schools and neighborhoods are brightly decorated with colorful crepe paper while we look forward to the Christmas Eve Services at the various churches.
After the service there is usually a joyous procession through the streets led by local bands and Christmas Revelers which is joined by all. The dancing in the streets may continue till the wee hours of the morning. The gala mood continues night after night for a long time.
On Christmas Day everyone returns to the church in his or her finest new clothes and the churches are generally full. At the church we hear again the story of the first Christmas in all the ethnic languages along with the singing of traditional carols in our own ethnic languages reminding us of the meaning of the blessed birth of the baby Jesus. After the Christmas service young people receive special gifts such as special imported chocolate, special cookies, and special crackers. They are told that the gifts come from Father Christmas, (a carry over from the colonial days). The young may also receive new clothes and perhaps new shoes or a diary or a book. Meanwhile, throughout the celebration, everyone is greeted with the special Akan greeting word, "Afishapa," meaning Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
On Saint Lucia’s Day, December 13, in the first light of dawn the oldest daughter of the house dresses in a white robe and places a ring of candles in her hair. It is then her job to wake the rest of the family and serve them coffee, buns, and cookies.
JULKAPP is another custom, in Sweden. a present is wrapped in many layers of paper and then someone knocks on the door to a house and they leave the gift their. The longer it takes for the present to be opened the better the JULKAPP.
The Russians use to celebrate Christmas with great joy and happiness before the Revaluation of 1917. They used to stroll up and down the streets with stars on the end of sticks that they called Stars of Bethlehem. The people went to church services and shared a special meal at home. After the Revaluation the Soviet Government banned Christmas. What the Russians do today is celebrate New Years Day with a special tree decorated like we do ours for Christmas and they have a New Years Day Children’s party. The children join hands and sing songs as they walk around the tree. They wait for DYET MOROZ Grandfather Frost, and his helper SYYEGORACHKA The Snow Maiden to bring them their gifts.