Country Christmas

 A la nanita nana, nanita ea, nanita ea,
Mi Jesus tiene sueno, bendito sea, bendito sea.
Fuentecilla que corres clara y sonora,
Ruisenor q'en la selva cantando Iloras,
Callad mientras la cuna se balancea.
A la nanita nana, nanita ea.

A la nanita nana, nanita ea, nanita ea,
Sleep, sleep my little Jesus, 
May peace attend Thee, may peace attend Thee.
To the world, little Savior, New hope thou'rt bringing
All the world, little Savior, Thy praises singing,
God's angels hov'ring o'er Thee chant alleluia.
A la nanita nana, nanita ea.
Guatemala Las Posadas
Columbia Another Latin Ameican Tradition
Vietnam Vietnamese Traditions
China Way Over in China
Russia Russian Traditions
Eastern Europe Koleduvane in Bulgaria
Africa An African Carol and some Kwanza "Music"
Korea A Little from Korea
India And Finally..India!

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Christmas In Guatemala

Feliz Navidad

For nine days before Christmas, posada processions pass through the streets.

Click here to hear the song "Las Posadas" (wait until "La Nanita" is finished!) PLAY

The beat of drums and the crackle of firewood provide lively accompaniment as the figures of Mary and Joseph are carried to a friend's house, where the carol is sung asking for lodging for the Holy Family. After the ritual questions and answers the doors are opened and Mary and Joseph are taken to the nacimiento, or manger scene, where they will remain until the next night when they once again go out seeking for shelter. Everyone who accompanies the figures on the quest makes a great party with punch and hot tamales and dancing once the goal is accomplished . On Christmas Eve the figure of the Christ Child is added to the nacimiento at the last of the nine houses to receive the Holy Family. This is the signal for the biggest party of all, and the home selected had better be a large one, since everyone who was involved over the last nine days will show up that night. The Christmas tree has joined the nacimiento as a popular ornament because of the large German population in Guatemala. Gifts are left under the tree on Christmas morning by the Christ Child for the children. Parents and adults do not exchange gifts until New Year's Day. Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve follows the pasada and is in turn followed by a large supper.

Christmas in Columbia

Feliz Navidad

The main religion in Colombia is Roman Catholicism. This effects the way they celebrate Christmas. One common traditional way that Christmas is celebrated, the way Colombia is known to celebrate Christmas is similar to the United States but also different. Nine days before Christmas, parties and religous observances begin. On Christmas Eve, families gather together and eat a large dinner. They also pray around "el pesebre" (the nativity), sing Christmas carols and exchange gifts. On Christmas Day, children recieve gifts as did baby Jesus. Some even believe the gifts come from Jesus As in any catholic country Christmas is an important celebration both for the common people and for the establishment. Principal celebrations start on December 16 with the beginning of the "Novena", a kinds of nine day count down leading up to the 25th, Christmas eve. During these days people build altars in their homes with miniature figurines of the Christmas scene: The little hut with Joseph and Mary and the cradle which actually stays empty until Christmas Eve, when as part of the family celebration the little child Jesus is put into cradle. Of course there is special food for the gathering which usually reunites the entire family. Gifts are exchanged at midnight and the bigger cities put up some fireworks.

Another Spanish Carol-"Riu Riu Chiu"
To hear: PLAY

Riu riu chiu, la guarda ribera;
Dios guardo el lobl de nuestra cordera,
Dios guardo el lobo de neustra cordera.
El lobo rabioso la guiso morder,
Mas Dios poderoso la supa defender;
Quisola hazer que no pudises pecar,
Ni aun original esta Virgen no tuviera.
Este qu'es nacido es el gran monarca,
Christo patriarca de carne vestido;
Hemos redemido con se hazer chiquito,
Aunqu'era infinito, finito se hiziera.
English Translation 
River, roaring river, guard our homes in safety,
God has kept the black wolf from our Lamb, our Lady.
God has kept the black wolf from our Lamb, our Lady.
Raging mad to bite her, there the wolf did steal,
But our God Almighty defended her with zeal,
Pure He wished to keep Her so She could never sin,
That first sin of man never touched the Virgin sainted.
He who's now begotten is our might Monarch,
Christ, our Holy Father, in human flesh embodied.
He has brought atonement by being born so humble,
Though He is immortal, as mortal was created.

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Christmas in Vietnam

Chung Mung Giang Sinh

Traditional Vietnamese religions are Buddhism and the Chinese philosophies of Taoism and Confucanism. However, during French rule, many people became Christians. Christmas is one of the four most important festivals of the Vietnamese year, htey being the birthday of Buddha, the new year and the mid-autumn festival. Although the christians observed the religious rituals of Christmas. On Christmas Eve the Christians would attend a midnight Mass. After Chruch people would return to their homes for the most important meal the Christmas supper. The dinner usually consisted of chicken soup, and wealthier people ate turkey and Christmas Pudding. The European customs of Santa Claus and the Christmas tree were popular and children would leave their shoes out on Christmas Eve.
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Christmas in China

(Mandarin) Kung His Hsin Nien bing Chu Shen Tan (Catonese) Sing Dan Fi Lock

China is a large country of 1.2 billion people, most of whom live in the country side and most of whom live in the eastern edge of the country. The chinese represent many ethnic groups with many different traditions. Despite communist rule, there are still many Christians in China, but even these celebrate Christmas with different twists depending upon region, clan, and history. Some Christians in China celebrate by lighting their houses with paper lanterns and decorating their Christmas trees, which they call "Trees of Light," with paper chains, paper flowers, and paper lanterns. The children of China hang stockings and await a visit from Dun Che Lao Ren (dwyn-chuh-lau-oh-run) which means "Christmas Old Man.". Since the vast majority of the Chinese people are not Christian, the main winter festival in China is the Chinese New Year. This event takes place toward the end of January. Now officially called the "Spring Festival," it is a time when children receive new clothing, feast on great foods, receive new toys, and enjoy fireworks displays. Ancester worship is an important aspect of the New Year celebration. Portraits and paintings of ancestors are brought out and hung in the main room of the home.
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Christmas in Russia

Pozdrevlyayu s prazdnikom Rozhdestva is Novim Godom

St. Nicholas is especially popular in Russia. The legend is that the 11th-century Prince Vladimir traveled to Constantinople to be baptized, and returned with stories of miracles performed by St. Nicholas of Myra. Since then many Eastern Orthodox Churches have been named for the saint, and to this day, Nicholas is one of the most common names for Russian boys. The feast of St. Nicholas (December 6) was observed for many centuries, but after the communist revolution, the celebration of the feast was suppressed. During the communist years St. Nicholas was transformed into Grandfather Frost. Other religious traditions were suppressed during the communist era. Before the revolution, a figure called Babouschka would bring gifts for the children. Like Italy's La Befana, the story is that Babouschka failed to give food and shelter to the three wise men during their journey to visit the Christ Child. According to tradition, she still roams the countryside searching for the Christ Child and visiting the homes of children during the Christmas season. Babouschka never completely disappeared, and now in the post-communist era, has returned openly. Christmas trees were also banned by the Communist regime, but people continued to trim their "New Year's" trees. Most Christian Russians belong to the Eastern Orthodox Church, and it is customary to fast until after the first church service on Christmas Eve. Christmas Eve dinner is meatless but festive. The most important ingredient is a special porridge called kutya. It is made of wheatberries or other grains which symbolize hope and immortality, and honey and poppy seeds which ensure happiness, success, and untroubled rest. A ceremony involving the blessing of the home is frequently observed. A priest visits the home accompanied by boys carrying vessels of holy water, and a little water is sprinkled in each room. The kutya is eaten from a common dish to symbolize unity.
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Christmas in Bulgaria

Tchestito Rojdestvo Hristovo

KOLEDUVANE (CHRISTMAS EVE). 24 December. Koleduvane is an important ancient pagan festival which coincides with the Winter Solstice in December, and celebrates the birth of the Sun. The Christian religion has tied it to the festival for the birth of Christ. Koleduvane is the biggest folk musical event in which only boys participate as major figures in the ritual. The basic idea is to wish health, good luck and fertility to the heads of households, to their houses, livestock, land, etc. The koledari, as those participating in the ritual are called, are divided into two age groups. The first group includes those between the ages of 15 and 18, the second those from 6 to 14. Each group consists of 10 to 15 koledari who divide the houses of their village or neighborhood among themselves, to be sure each house will be blessed. The preparations of both groups begin a month or two before the festival with t he learning of the songs, which number up to 60 or 70 for the older group and 20 or 30 for the younger group. The preparations also include the learning of dances, and the decoration of costumes, which include the kalpaci (fur hats) decorated with bouquets of boxwood and wild geranium, carved wooden staffs, yamurluci (hooded cloaks) which are made to size, sandals, and new fancy leggings. The magnificent embroidery on the white shirts is especially beautiful. The whole scenario is realized under the direction of the leader of the group. Each group of koledari vies to have the prettiest and most creative preparations, and to know the songs, dances and other elements of the scenario faultlessly. The major requirement for the acceptance of a boy into a particular group is the ability to sing well, with precise pitch, enunciating the text clearly, and to remember the songs. All of these qualities show that the koledari must have sung many songs since their early childhood in order to have developed the musical ability to learn and perform the music and gestures of the artistic arrangements. The older group of koledari visits the houses during the night of the 24th-25th December and the younger group comes in the morning. the younger children have been carefully included in the ritual with account taken for their age, so that they can move in gradually and insure continuity. Koledarski songs are characteristically lively, happy and festive, and are performed antiphonally. The group divides into two subgroups of 6 or 7 individuals. One groups begins, and the second group repeats what the first group has just sung. Thematically, the songs can be divided into several groups: those which are sung on the path/road from one house to another, those which are sung while entering or leaving a house, those devoted to the head of the house, those for old women, those for small children, those for unmarried girls, those for soldiers, those for the livestock, those for the fertility of the fields, and so on. At the end of the performance, the head of the household gives stedro (from his heart) - so called koledni gevreci (round buns), banisa (a multi-layered pastry filled with feta-like cheese sirine, fruits, walnuts, popcorn and other traditional delicacies to the koledari. Children in kindergarten, as young as they are, show a great interest in koledarski pesni. the boys work hard to learn complete scenarios and to help them, folk costumes are sewn in the school to strengthen the emotional effect on the child performs and their audience. An example of one Koleduvane song follows:
Gosti sme vi koledari, kolade. 
ja sreshtnete ni stopani, kolade, 
Viti porti otvorete, kolade, 
Ne sme idvali ot lani, kolade, 
ja sreshtnete ni stopani, kolade. 
We are your guests, koledari, kolade. 
Come meet us landlords, kolade. 
Open the arched doors, kolade. 
We havenít come since last year, kolade. 
Come meet us, landlords, kolade. 

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Christmas in Africa


African/Zulu Carol: Words by Rae Tomlin
I warm my son upon my breast
As Mary, Mary warmed you,
O, Inkosi Jesus, O, Inkosi, Jesus.
I feel his life, I feel his strength
And his gentle quiet breathing.
O, Inkosi Jesus, O, Inkosi Jesus.
I hear my people singing their song,
Singing, singing in the wind,
O, Inkosi Jesus, O, Inkosi Jesus.
The sighing of the yellow grass
Keeps him softly, sweetly dreaming.
O, Inkosi Jesus, O, Inkosi Jesus.
The kaffir-boom lifts her arms above,
Praising, praising only you,
O, Inkosi Jesus, O, Inkosi Jesus.
O give us your hope, O give us your strength,
O give us, give us gentle love.
O, Inkosi Jesus, O, Inkosi Jesus.

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Christmas in Korea

Sung Tan Chuk Ha

To hear Kujunash (The Savior is Born), a Korean Christmas song: PLAY

On Christmas Eve the youth of the churches have a traditional Christmas pageant. Then from about midnight until 5 am on Christmas morning, they break into small groups and go carolling following a prescribed list of chruch members. It is traditional that when one hears carollers outside his home or apartment, he opens the door to listen and then invites the entire group into his home for hot drinks and snacks. Christmas Day has the traditional Christmas worship service which is followed by the baptism and the reception of new members into the church and a traditional Christmas dinner is usually served at the church. The meal is usually a hot bowl of rice cake soup (duk) served with kimchi of the side (kimchi is a variety of spicy pickeled vegetables, but especially Chinese style cabbage), a tangerine and perhape a cookie or two. Sometimes gifts are given at home, but NOT in the same quantity that most Americans give and there is Christmas music on the radio and TV during Christmas Day or a few days prior.

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Christmas in India

In India, the poinsettia is in flower and sothe churches are decorated with this brilliant bloom for the Christmas Midnight Mass. In the southern most state called Kerala Christmas is celebrated by observing 25 days of lent and attending a holy mass at midnight of Christmas Eve. The mass ends early morning on Christmas day. The whole family gets together. The birth of the Savior is the most important and the Santa Claus and gifts are not the top priority. Every house hangs a Christmas star regardless of their religion, all throughout the season. In South India, Christians put small clay lamps on the rooftops and walls of their houses at Christmas, just as the Hindus do during their festival called Diwalli.

Information and Music for this page was found at:

Santa's Net Christmas around the World Christmas Carols Multilingual Christmas Carols Songs of the Season

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