Did You Ever Wonder... about Christmas Traditions?

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Check out some of these Christmas traditions around the world:

Most people go to Church on Christmas Eve in Madagascar. The services start about 5:00pm and last until after midnight! Different groups in the Church, especially children, perform songs and plays celebrating the birth of Jesus. People also go to Church on Christmas Day as well. After the Christmas Eve or Christmas Day service, churches give out sweets or biscuits to the people in the Church.

In Columbia, a big Christmas meal is eaten on Christmas Eve night and it's called 'Cena de Navidad'. The dishes often include 'lechona' (pork stuffed with rice and peas), ham, turkey or a chicken soup called 'Ajiaco Bogotano'. Other popular foods around Christmas are 'Buñuelos' (cheesy fritters), arepas (a thick dish made from corn) and 'hojuelas' (a fried pastry with sugar and jam). A very popular Christmas dessert is 'Natilla' which is a set custard. After the Christmas Meal, many people will go to a Midnight mass Church Service. Some people stay up all night, so Christmas Day is a day for relaxing and eating up leftovers!

In Finland, Christmas trees are bought from the local market or square on Christmas Eve.. The seller expects you to bargain with them on the price. Christmas Eve is very special and the most important day over Christmas. It's traditional to eat rice porridge and plum fruit juice for breakfast. Then the tree is bought (if it hasn't been already) and is decorated. At midday, the 'peace of Christmas' is broadcast on radio and TV by the City Mayor of Turku (which is south Finland).

Poland is a largely catholic country and Christmas Eve is a very important and busy day. It's now often the most important day over Christmas - even though it's not a holiday but Christmas and the 26th December are holidays! Traditionally it was day of fasting and abstinence (not eating anything) and meat is not normally allowed to be eaten in any form.

Christmas Eve is known as Wigilia (pronounced vee-GHEE-lee-uh). Traditionally, the house is also cleaned and everyone wore their best festive clothes. The main Christmas meal is eaten in the evening and is called "Kolacja wigilijna" (Christmas Eve supper). It's traditional that no food is eaten until the first star is seen in the sky! So children look at the night sky to spot the first star!

On the table there are 12 dishes - they are meant to give you good luck for the next 12 months. The meal is traditionally meat free, this is to remember the animals who took take of the baby Jesus in the manger. Everyone has to eat or at least try some of each dish. For catholics the 12 dishes symbolize Jesus's 12 disciples. Like in many Catholic countries, Christmas Eve is often a 'fasting day' meaning that some people don't eat anything until after sunset (when the Church day officially ends). So that's where the custom of the first star come from. Some people in central Poland say that at midnight the animals can talk.

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