Cultural jungle: christmas in america

Christmas in the summer vacations and sweets in abundance. To the 3. During Advent, we travel to North, Central and South America to experience the local Christmas traditions.

North America

In Mexico, the Spanish colonial period has left its mark on the country. From 16. From December 25 to Christmas Eve, the so-called Posadas are celebrated: two people dressed up in costumes process through the streets in memory of Mary and Joseph’s search for shelter and knock on the doors of the houses with the request for accommodation. Families and friends gather in the houses and on the streets to celebrate.

The last house is selected in advance. In this one, seekers are invited into the house. They are served food and drink, including pinatas. The clay jars filled with sweets symbolize evil and must be smashed to bring blessings for everyone. Traditionally, everyone gets a taste, children first.

Christmas Eve is celebrated with the extended family. Turkey is often served. The influence of Western culture, however, is becoming increasingly apparent: Christmas trees and fairy lights have long since found their way into living rooms at home. The Bescherung takes place however further, similarly as in South America, only after the midnight mass. Also the Christ child is put only at night in the flu.

Central America

In socialist Cuba, Christian holidays are not very important. It was not until the end of the 90’s that the 25. December as an official holiday.

The Cubans still feel like celebrating. On Christmas Eve, people get together with family, eat and drink. Music invites you to dance in the streets. However, the Cubans do not have their own historically grown customs. Rather, one takes over influences from abroad, especially in the tourist areas – mostly kitsch. Plastic trees and colorful decorations can be purchased well before Christmas.

The more important celebration for the Cubans then takes place at the turn of the year: Then it is not only New Year’s Day, but also National Day, when Cubans celebrate the successful revolution.

South America

The traditions of the Brazilians are similar to those of Europe and North America. There are Christmas trees, Christmas cards, the nativity scene and the Secret Santa custom. Even decorative lights are not missed here. The lack of frost is made up for with artificial snow and silver-plated branches. On the day of the Christmas Eve it can already also happen that it snows on the streets. However, the flakes are not real, but paper scraps. Employees shred their old files and let them trickle out onto the street. By the way, Christmas in Brazil coincides with the summer vacations!

As with us is the 25. December is a holiday. This is especially important because most church masses do not begin until midnight on Christmas Eve. There one celebrates the "Missa do Galo" (mass of the cock). Also the giving of presents and the Christmas dinner take place at a late hour in the circle of the family.

In Rio de Janeiro they have come up with a lot of ideas. Every year, the largest floating Christmas tree is erected on the city’s lake, Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas. It rises up to 80 meters out of the water and is hung with lights. But it goes even higher. Santa flies into the Maracana soccer arena every year. Yes, read correctly: it flies! But not on reindeer, but by helicopter. It is the climax of the Christmas show, which ends with a fireworks display.


Christmas in Peru is not called Navidad, but Pascuas. On 24. and 25. December families visit each other, celebrate and eat together. There are cold dishes and sweets. Especially the Paneton, a kind of Stollen, which is widespread in South America as the most popular Christmas pastry, is served with pleasure.

The Christmas crib is important. Often the figures are carved by themselves. The Jesus child, however, is not placed in the flu until midnight. Parties go on until the wee hours of the morning. On the streets fire flares.

When children are asleep, parents put presents in front of their beds. The next day, the children find the "gifts of the Christ Child" immediately after waking up.

In the meantime, customs have become increasingly Americanized. Artificial Christmas trees and twinkling lights make an appearance.

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