All over the world, Christmas celebrations reflect local culture and traditions. The festivities can be amazingly different from country to country. Though the mode of celebration, the dates, and the traditions vary, the spirit remains the same everywhere. Read on to have a glimpse of the different ways Christmas is celebrated in some of the countries where Globe Aware and our amazing volunteers lend their helping hands.
China: In China, they decorate their homes with evergreens, posters, and bright paper chains. Families put up a Christmas tree, called a “tree of light,” and decorate it with beautiful lanterns, flowers, and red paper chains that symbolize happiness. They also light their houses with paper chains. Santa Claus is called by the name of Dun Che Lao Ren meaning Christmas Old Man.
Ghana: Over 66 languages are spoken in Ghana and all of these language groups have their own traditions and customs. People in Ghana celebrate Christmas from the 20th of December to the first week of January with many different activities. Christmas Eve night is filled with traditional drumming and dancing that goes on all night long! People dress in colorful traditional clothes. Father Christmas is commonly referred to as Papa Bronya.
India: In India, rather than a traditional Christmas tree, they decorate mango or banana trees. Sometimes they also decorate their homes with mango leaves. In some parts of India, small clay oil-burning lamps are used as decorations; they are placed on the edges of flat roofs and on tops of walls. Father Christmas, or Santa Claus, delivers presents to children from a horse and cart. He’s known as ‘Christmas Baba’ in Hindi and ‘Christmas Thaathaa’ in Tamil.
Mexico: Weeks before Christmas, elaborately decorated market stalls called puestos are set up in the plazas of every town and city. Some people travel for days from remote areas to get to these markets. The puestos offer crafts of every kind, great foods, bananas, nuts, cookies, and flowers. Poinsettias are native to Mexico and were first used in connection with Christmas in the 17th century. The main Christmas celebration is called La Posada. Santa Claus is not predominant.
Romania: In Romania, celebrations last from the 20th of December to the 7th of January. On the 20th, it is traditional that if the family keep pigs, one is killed on this day and the meat is used for Christmas meals. Carol singing (known as ‘Colindatul’) is a very popular part of Christmas in Romania. Children carol sing from house to house performing for the adults in the houses. They get sweets, cakes (called ‘cozonaci’) and sometimes money for singing well. Another tradition is a drumming band or ‘dubasi’, made up of unmarried men. A band can have up to 50 or 60 men in it. They go around playing in the streets and are given presents. Santa Claus is know as ‘Mos Craciun’.
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‘Globalize’ Your Christmas Meal!
Global Wings Scholarship recipient Adan and amazing Globe Aware volunteer Mary will be traveling to Cambodia together in 2011.
Mary was Adan’s sponsor for the Global Wings Scholarship. Adan has been working hard and fundraising for the upcoming Cambodia trip.
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When it gets cold out, and possibly wet, the best thing to do is break out the stew pot! The simmering pot will warm your kitchen, the aromas will warm your soul, and when it all gets to the table it will bring comfort and joy. The West African traditional name for peanut is Groundnut, which relates to how the peanut grows; on a vine that buries its pod into the ground. The delicious groundnut stew is traditionally eaten all over the African continent. Recipes vary from region to region: in West Africa it is spicy, while in Central Africa cassava leaves are included in the stew. Peanuts, or groundnuts, are used in many traditional dishes in Ghana and throughout the world. They’re tasty by themselves, but when added to a savory dish, groundnuts take on a whole new dimension.
This creamy, scrumptious stew is traditionally made with chicken, served over rice. Below is a delicious recipe for traditional West African (Ghanaian) Groundnut Stew. West African Groundnut and Chicken Stew:
1-1/2 to 2 lbs. skinned chicken parts (use thighs or leg quarters split into thighs and drumsticks; you can use skinless thighs as well)
1 large or 2 medium onions, chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, minced Dried red peppers (crushed) or cayenne pepper (to taste)
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 can (14-oz) stewed tomatoes (plain) or diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups water
1 plantain, chopped (I like riper plantains in this)
1 sweet potato, chopped
¾ to 1 cup natural peanut butter
2 tablespoons vegetable oil Salt and pepper to taste
How to Make It
In 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat, brown chicken or beef (need not be completely cooked through).
Remove when done.
In same pot, add 1 tablespoon oil and onions over medium heat. Cook until soft.
Add garlic and cook for another minute or two, being careful not to let garlic burn.
Add tomatoes, ginger, pepper, and salt.
Sauté for a couple of minutes.
Add water and reserved chicken.
Turn heat up to high and add plantain and sweet potato.
Bring to a boil, then turn heat down and simmer (covered) for 30-40 minutes, until meat is tender.
Remove about ¼ to ½ cup of stew liquid and mix it with peanut butter in a bowl.
Stir peanut butter mixture back into stew.
Cover and simmer for another 30 minutes, stirring frequently.
If needed, add more water to thin stew.
Season to taste with more salt and red and/or black pepper.