A Christmas feast, Singapore style
By Nana Schlaefke-Ong, LandPLUS Mobility Solutions
With its blend of Asian and European heritage, Singapore has rich history of being a multicultural society. Christmas in Singapore is a big celebration, and it gives the locals a reason to do what they love most: eat and shop. At its heart, the holiday is a special day for Singapore’s many Christians; but almost everyone, young and old, gets to take part in the frenzy and the fun of fake snow, men in Santa suits and of course, Christmas presents! December 25 is a Public Holiday, so all offices and banks are closed but retail shops remain open as usual.
The famous Orchard Road is festooned with bright lights and colorful Christmas decorations from late October until early January to ramp up the festive mood. This also serves as a reminder to hit the malls. The decorative theme changes every year, with Disney center stage in 2018. The Christmas Wonderland attraction (pictured) at Gardens by the Bay is a must visit spot with a dazzling array of activities and entertainment for all visitors. Although December is typically a rainy season, this does nothing to dampen the spirits of millions of tourists who travel to Singapore to soak in the festivity.
Christmas in Panama-
By Mauricio Escalante, Panama Intermoving and Relocation (PIR)
Christmas in Panama is a bright, colorful holiday, celebrated with lot of passion. Christmas Eve is known as “Nochebuena” in Spanish and it is a special day marked by religious celebrations and parades. During the festive season families come together to eat and exchange presents.
Most homes put up nativity scene deocrations, called “pesebre” in addition to the traditional decorated Christmas tree. In Panama, Santa isn’t the one who brings the presents. In most homes the infant Jesus himself delivers the presents and the gifts appear under the Christmas tree on December 25.
A typical Panamanian dish to eat at Christmas is “tamales”, made using corn dough and typically filled with meat. We also sing Christmas carols called “villancicos” with our loved ones.
The Festive Season in our region
By Emiliya Kliudt -Intermark Relocation
Christmas and New Year are among the most popular holidays in the world. In most of Europe and the U.S., Christmas is the most anticipated day. In countries of the former Commonwealth of Independent States however, New Year is the main event. Intermark is happy share the traditional celebration of these holidays in Georgia and Kazakhstan.
Christmas has always been a special celebration in Georgia, the day when people express love and support for each other in the name of Jesus Christ. On this day every Georgian is in an especially festive mood. The streets are transformed with beautiful Christmas illuminations and the sound of Christmas carols are heard everywhere.
As in other Orthodox Christian countries, Christmas is celebrated on January 7, and it marks the end of the forty-day nativity fast. Believers try to attend the special Christmas Eve church service and after that they celebrate the day together with their families.
An indispensable part of the day is the traditional Christmas march called ”alilo”. The march starts in the morning following the special Christmas church service. Thousands of people participate in the Alilo parade: the clergy of different churches, parishioners and children wearing the ”stikari”, the gold, white or red colored surplice worn by a priest’s assistant. They carry crosses and icons through the streets and collect food, sweets and other donations to be distributed later to orphanages and people in need. Anyone can join the march or donate some food, groceries or other items. It is a colorful and festive experience.
As a Muslim country whose population is mainly Muslim, Kazakhstan does not have any large-scale Christmas celebrations. The country does celebrate New Year with as much enthusiasm as Western countries celebrate Christmas. While there aren't Christmas trees, Santa Claus and presents for good children; there is a New Year tree, and there is “ded moroz” (Grandfather Frost) and “snegurochka”, his granddaughter, who arrive together on New Year’s Eve and give children gifts in exchange for a performance or a poem!
Christmas in Kazakhstan is only celebrated by the Orthodox Church on the January 7. The celebrations are the culmination of a 40-day Lent during which practicing Christians abstain from eating meat, fish, oil and wine. Lent ends when the first star appears in the night sky on January 6, symbolizing the birth of Jesus Christ and the start of the Christmas dinner, which may or may not be followed by attending a Christmas Eve church service. It is traditionally a time of sharing and spending time with family.
Christmas in Uganda
by Lydia Kunihira-Kaweesa, Worldwide Movers Uganda Ltd.
Uganda, also known as the Pearl of Africa, is home to mostly happy people and beautiful sceneries. Regardless of what Ugandans are going through, we will find every reason to have a good time and as such, celebrations for different occasions are held with such gusto and passion.
Christmas time is no exception! A lot of Ugandans have two homes; one in the urban areas and a rural home, also known as the ancestral home. This rural ancestral home is the base for the elders or grandparents if you like. For that reason, big days like Christmas are always celebrated there. People travel from different towns and cities to join their extended family in the ancestral home for this important day.
It’s also traditional for everyone to get something new on Christmas day. DTherefore, leading upto the big day there’s usually a large influx of shoppers in the city from different parts of the country; grocery stores, super markets, local markets, liquor store, saloons, boutiques make a killing during that period.
Food plays an important role in the celebrations. People go out of their way to ensure that they have almost of every type of food and drink available for the day. Food preparations begin on Christmas eve to make sure everything is ready by Christmas morning, and everyone has a chance to attend the Christmas church service. Churches fill up to capacity and even extra seating space is created outside to cater for the unusually large congregation. Feasting starts right after church and goes on until everyone is knocked out. This is normally accompanied with good music, chatting and a lot dancing to ease up space in the stomach for the next round of food. What fun! Christmas is a fun-filled and joyous time that many of us look forward to. Celebrated with good food, church, dancing and our extended families.