During Christmas, my mother and some of my brothers engage in preparing a huge meal. They spend the whole day cooking. A tradition that we have at my house is that we only start eating when it gets dark and when we see the first star. The Christmas meal is composed of bean soup, mashed potatoes and fried carp.
Our family has another tradition during Christmas. Before we eat my father puts money under each of our plates. This is a sign of wealth in the coming year. He also puts one scale (from the carp) under each of our plates, and this is also a sign of good luck in the coming year.
In Czech, we believe the that baby Jesus is the one who brings the gifts, not Santa.
During Christmas all of my family gets together at my grandmother’s house for dinner.
The food is mainly turkey and pig along with sweet potatoes. Before we eat, all the men play a game known as Kachito (a dice game).
At midnight is when we open the presents. The children are the first to open their presents and then the adults follow. We believe that Papa Noel is the one who brings the big gifts, a bicycle for example. There are also lots of fireworks at midnight.
There are different variations of Christmas in India, because it is a secular but multi-religious country.
The most popular way of celebrating is to go to a midnight church service in the old cathedrals made by the Roman Catholics. The service usually starts at 11 p.m. and lasts until 12 a.m. After church, you hang out with your friends and afterwards the entire family gets together for breakfast and everyone opens presents.
Before Christmas, we have three weeks of fasting period. This is one of the hardest fasting periods because people have to go to church almost every day, don’t eat until noon and listen to gospel music only.
On Christmas day, we go to church in the morning and stay there until noon. After church we eat a big, fancy, meal with the family. The dinner is followed by a coffee ceremony with relatives where everyone drinks coffee and converses. We exchange gifts in the afternoon.
–Interviews by Bojana Jankova and Raymond Waweru