A Cultural Christmas Letter
Merry Christmas and “God Jul!”
I pray that you and yours are experiencing the joy of this season with snuggly clothes, good foods, and heart-warming friend and family traditions.
As I’m writing this, I’ve been spending the morning rolling our family’s traditional Christmas Eve dinner – Swedish meatballs! I love sharing the Christmas traditions of my Swedish family with my household: recipes like potatis korv and persimmon pudding from “the old country,” exchanging gifts on Christmas Eve (after dinner is cleaned up, of course), and 11pm services featuring Swedish prayers and carols at Grandma’s Swedish Lutheran church.
As the Institute for Cultural Communicators celebrates more and more cultural communication by enlarging our global community to new countries, I’ve been curious about the Christmas traditions celebrated in some of the geographical regions that we have been cultivating relationships with.
Here are a few cultural celebrations I thought it would be fun to share with you this Christmas.
- In Thailand, you might see an elephant dressed in a Santa suit while enjoying a Christmas dinner of rice and curry.
- In Kazakhstan, the Advent meal starts on January 6th when the first star is seen in the sky, representing the Bethlehem star.
- In Indonesia, homes sometimes feature Christmas trees made of chicken feathers and special powdered-sugar-and-cheese cookies.
- In the Netherlands, the traditional way to eat with the family is called ‘gourmetten’, which is a little stove that is put on the table and where everyone prepares their own meal while seated.
- In the United Kingdom, some townspeople have been heard saying they had a “white Christmas” if even one single snowflake is seen during the 24 hours of Christmas!
- In Australia, Christmas falls in the summertime, so seafood barbecues are popular. Instead of milk, it’s common to leave out a beer for St. Nick – but non-alcoholic beer so that Santa doesn’t “drink and fly!”
Whether you are eating cheese cookies or a delicious bowl of curry, heating up the gourmetten or the barbecue, the reason we all celebrate is the same. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the greatest story ever told, and what a privilege it is to come together with families around the world to train the next generation of storytellers to share it.
Whatever our traditions, the ability to share the Christmas story is a gift.
It’s a beautiful thing that even amidst so much rich diversity, we share community with one another in celebrating and sharing the story that still changes everything.
Wishing you a merry Christmas with love and hope because of Christ,
Dr. Teresa Moon, founding President and CEO of the Institute for Cultural Communicators, is an internationally-recognized seminar speaker, education consultant, author, and leadership coach. Each year, she travels globally equipping students, teachers, and parents to become “cultural communicators,” transforming ordinary students into extraordinary communicators and authentic leaders.
Leave a comment and let me know how your family celebrates this holiday.