One of the fascinating things about travelling and visiting new countries is learning about the colourful and unique festivals that exist out there. Now while I don't travel as much as I used to, I am able to explore the world vicariously, through my job on iTalki, and my online wanderings. It has become clear to me that Christmas is a global event, celebrated on every continent. The way it is celebrated differs starkly, however, depending on the locality. Not every country has a Santa Claus, and Santa doesn't always ride in a sleigh. In Spain the Three Wise Men deliver presents to children, which kind of makes sense, since they gifted gold, frankincense and myrrh to baby Jesus in the Bible. In Holland they have a Santa but he lives in Spain and sails to and from the Dutch homeland by boat. Go figure. Russian children send letters to Ded Moroz, a bearded old man who resides in Vologda near the North Pole, and whose name means "Father Frost". He walks with a long magic staff and sometimes rides a troika.
|The Christmas Shitter (El Caganer), and El Tio (Australia, 2019)
I believe there is a relationship between Christmas and New Year's Day in that they offer a glimmer of hope in the midst of winter. They both arrive just after the winter solstice, the most desperate time of all, but they promise that the light/sun/Son will return. It might be faint and distant, but the light is there and can be seen, twinkling through the hoary boles. The rebirth has begun... (To read my full account of how Christmas is celebrated around the world, click here.)