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A Cultural Christmas

About a month ago my workmate Vicky, who runs young carer programs in Esperance, asked me how many young carers we have registered with Young Carers WA.  I had to look it up and found that there are 2313 of you! With so many young carers, it makes sense that our young carers who come from all cultural backgrounds would celebrate Christmas in their own unique ways.

Personally, I think that learning about other cultures is fascinating. Did you know? ...

Christmas In Vietnam

According to Christmas Eve in Vietnam is a bigger deal than Christmas Day itself!

In Ho Chi Minh city, people come in and gather at the large Catholic Cathedral, throw confetti, enjoy the bright lights and displays in shop windows and have a snack at the local restaurants. The most common type of gifts given are gifts of food, especially 'bûche de Noël' (a chocolate cake in the shape of a log); it has a French name because Vietnamese food is heavily influenced by France. This is because Vietnam was once part of the French empire.

To wish someone a Merry Christmas in Vietnamese, you say Chuć Mưǹg Giańg Sinh and their name for Santa is 'Ông già Noel', meaning Christmas Old Man.

Yule in Iceland

This year, I will be travelling to Iceland, so I just had to include Iceland in my Christmas culture list!

Christmas and New Year’s Eve is a magical time in Iceland. It begins on December 12th when Icelandic yore states that the Yuletide Lads – descendants of ogres – start arriving and leaving secret presents in shoes on children’s windowsills. St Thorklaur’s Day falls on the 23rd of December to celebrate St. Thorlakur Thorhallsson, Iceland’s major Saint. On Christmas Eve, families start celebrating at 6pm, as it was thought that the beginning of the new day started at this time, not midnight. Presents are opened after dinner. Children often receive new clothes, a book, a candle or a pack of cards. The whole extended family comes together for a meal of roast lamb or sometimes a sea bird called Rock Ptarmigan.

New Year’s Eve is one of Iceland’s most important nights and is celebrated with a bonfire and fireworks to “blow out the new year”. This is believed to be a magical night when cows can talk, seals take on human form and elves move house! The last day of Yule is the Twelfth Night – the 6th of January – celebrated with bonfires and Elfin dances.

To wish someone a Merry Christmas in Icelandic, you say 'Gleðileg jól'.

 * Information taken from the Why Christmas website on 12.12.14

To learn how to wish someone a happy Christmas in lots of different languages, head here!

The Why Christmas website also has information on Christmas traditions from all across the world.

Aboriginal Australians and Christmas

The ancient history of Aboriginal Australians is based on Dreamtime Stories, not the Christian religious belief of the birth of Christ, so Christmas isn’t traditionally an Aboriginal Australian celebration. Indigenous Australian culture is closely tied to the land on which they live. There are six seasons recognised in the calendar year and December 25th, Christmas Day, falls during the last season, Gudjewg – monsoon or wet season, when plants and animals come to life.

However, a lot of Aboriginal people identify as Christians because, of course, past Aboriginal people were heavily influenced by Christian missionaries when the British inhabited Australia. So some Aboriginal people do celebrate Christmas.

Information on Aboriginal Australians and Christmas was found here where you can read more fascinating facts about Christmas in Australia, including diverse religious beliefs about Christmas.

One of the wonderful things about living in Australia is that we are a multi-faith and multi-cultural country and everyone has the right to live according to their own values.

To me, personally, Christmas is a precious time that I spend with my family and friends, reflecting on how grateful I am to have them in my life. It’s also a time where we all get to enjoy gorgeous food, celebrate the end of the year and give and receive presents! Most of my immediate family members are Christian and to them, Christmas is also a religious celebration of the birth of Jesus. I’m not a Christian but despite this difference, we still enjoy our time together.

So no matter whom you spend your Christmas with, how you spend it, or what you believe about it, I wish you a season of peace, joy and love.

How would you like to see Young Carers WA celebrate Christmas? Please send me your suggestions by filling out the Contact form on this website.