Customs of the World

Customs are 'long-established habits or traditions of a culture or society.' Many countries celebrate the same holiday but in different ways. Some countries have their own special holiday celebrations which are not practiced in any other country.

Austria, Ethiopia, and Jamaica celebrate Christmas in very different ways. During Advent in Austria, a wreath made of twigs is decorated with candles and ribbons. Each candle represents one Sunday of Advent. Many towns will have a Christmas market where vendors sell Christmas treats and decorations. Each home will have a tree decorated with gold and silver ornaments and straw stars. A large decorated tree will stand in the town square.

Families decorate the tree on Christmas Eve. The children like to put sweet treats on the tree. Chocolates, jelly rings, and meringue shapes are favorites. The Christkind, a golden-haired baby symbolizing the Christ, puts gifts under the tree. Sometimes children receive a gift from St.Nicholas on December 6. A monster called the Krampus sometimes comes with St. Nicholas. He will punish any children who have not been good.

The main meal is eaten on Christmas Eve. The main course used to be fish, but now turkey and goose are replacing the fish. Sachertorte or apricot cake follows the main course. Chocolate is always available too.

Christmas in Ethiopia is celebrated on January 7 instead of December 25 because the church still uses the old Gregorian calendar. The day is called Ganna. Many people attend the Greek Orthodox Church on Ganna. Their advent is called the 'Fast of the Prophets' and begins on November 25. People only eat one meal a day which is a vegan meal, with no eggs, oil, meats or dairy foods.

Early Ganna mass, or the church service, begins at 4 a.m. on Ganna. In smaller towns, people dress in a white robe with brightly colored stripes around the edges. In big cities, however, people wear western clothes. It is a tradition that one of the three wise men came from Ethiopia. Boys play a game called ganna around this time. It is like hockey.

A thick and spicy stew called wat is eaten on a piece of flatbread called injara. The bread is like a plate. The wat contains meat, vegetables, and eggs. Smaller pieces of injara can scoop up the wat.

The day before Christmas in Jamaica is called the 'Grand Market.' It is like a festival and shopping spree combined. During the day, people can buy new clothes to use for the celebration in the evening. The evening part of the Grand Market starts at 6 p.m. and lasts all night. Lights decorate the streets. Vendors sell sweets, jerk chicken, and boiled corn.

The meal for Christmas Day is made the night before. It consists of fruits, meat, and sorrel and rum punch. A special Christmas Day breakfast includes breadfruit, boiled bananas, fried plantains, fruit juice and tea. Ackee and saltfish are served. Fruits in a Jamaican fruitcake are soaked in white rum and red wine for several months before being made into the Jamaican rum fruitcake.

Most people stay at home for the day on Christmas. Sometimes they paint their houses and add new curtains to get ready for the special day. Some people attend a Midnight Mass at the church. Some will celebrate all night and attend a service on Christmas Day at the end of Grand Market.

A: Jamaica
B: Austria
C: Ethiopia
D: Germany

A: Vegetable soup
B: Thick stew
C: White cake
D: Egg soufflé

A: January 24
B: January 7
C: December 25
D: December 29

A: Holland
B: Jamaica
C: Ethiopia
D: Austria

A: St. Nicholas
B: Santa Claus
C: Christkind
D: Krampus

A: Jamaica
B: Ethiopia
C: Kenya
D: Austria

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