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Christmas is coming, and that means celebrating with family near and far. But did you know that Christmas begins on December 13 in Sweden? Here at Lancer Design, we share with you nuggets of information on the history and traditions of this Yuletide season (they’re also great conversation starters for awkward family dinners).
Christmas - an annual holiday so widespread that it’s celebrated by both Christians and non-Christians alike. Apart from being a sacred religious holiday, it’s also a worldwide, cultural and commercial phenomenon.
Click on any item below to learn more on the origins of Christmas.
From Yule to Christmas
Many traditions of modern Christmas are adapted from the Yuletide season, or season of Yule.
Yule is a Pagan holiday that takes place on the day of the winter solstice – which means it happens around December 21 in the northern hemisphere, and around June 21 below the equator.
Coming of Christ
Some Christians celebrate the coming of Jesus Christ on 6 January, otherwise known as Epiphany. They believe this was when Jesus was baptized.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer was created by Robert May in 1939, when he was assigned by retail giant Montgomery Ward to develop its own Christmas-themed book.
12 Days of Christmas
The song “12 Days of Christmas” refers to the twelve days between Christmas Day and the Epiphany.
The word “Christmas” comes from the Old English word “Cristes maesse”, meaning “Christ’s mass”.
Coca Cola and Polar Bears
In 1993, Ken Stewart was tasked to assist in creating a new look for Coca-Cola. He was inspired by his pet dog, Morgan, that looked like a polar bear cub, which became the basis for the polar bears in the Coca-Cola commercials.
Ambiguous Origins of Candy Cane
The first documented usage of candy canes in the U.S. dates back to 1847, when German-Swedish immigrant August Imgard decorated a blue spruce tree with candy canes and paper ornaments.
Do you know the different Christmas traditions celebrated by countries around the world?
Click on a location point to see how different countries spread the holiday cheer!
Japan: Chicken, Not Turkey
Japan celebrates Christmas with a KFC "party barrel"; the Kentucky for Christmas campaign started this tradition of celebration since 1974.
Philippines: Big Lights on Display
The Filipinos hold the Giant Lantern Festival annually on the Saturday before Christmas Eve in the city of San Fernando, where various villages compete to build the most elaborate lantern, each illuminated by electric bulbs.
Sweden: Fiery "Tradition"?
The 13-feet straw Gävle Goat was constructed in 1966, at the center of Gävle’s Castle Square for the Advent. But its presence led to a “tradition” where people would attempt to burn it down, surviving 29 burn-downs between 1966 and 2017, with the most recent destruction in 2016.
Austria: Naughty or Nice?
In Austrian tradition, St. Nicholas rewards nice little boys and girls, while Krampus - St. Nicholas’ evil accomplice - is said to capture the naughtiest children and whisk them away in his sack. In the first week of December, young men dress up as the Krampus frightening children with clattering chains and bells.
Norway: Centuries-old Tradition
One Norwegian tradition dates back centuries, where people hid their broom on Christmas Eve. It was believed that witches and evil spirits would came out on the Eve looking for brooms to ride on. In today's world however, people hide their brooms to prevent theft!
Washington, D.C.: National Hanukkah Menorah
During celebrations of Hanukkah, a giant nine-metre Menorah will be raised and lighted on the White House grounds for the eight days and nights of Hanukkah. The lighting event is free to attend, but tickets must be booked in advance.
Christmas Day is celebrated across Singapore on 25 December, similar to many other countries. Being one of the two Christian holidays marked by the country, we take our Christmas seriously too.
Click on a landmark to reveal a fun fact about Christmas in Singapore.
In 2018, Singapore donated SGD30 million to Giving.sg - an online charity portal. One-third of the donations were from December that year alone, and half a million was donated on Christmas Day itself.
Religious to Secular
In a 2017 survey conducted by Milieu, 56% of people in Singapore believe that Christmas is about the spirit of giving. With the help of commercialisation, Christmas in Singapore has evolved from a highly religious holiday into a secular one.
According to this survey, 39% of Singaporeans celebrate Christmas over dinner. 66% said their Christmas meal would consist of a mix of both local and western dishes, representing Singapore's "melting pot of local and foreign cultures" and traditions, customising meals to their own preferences.
Money, money, money
In an infographic done by Giant Singapore, the average amount that a person set aside for Christmas gifting is $100 to $300.
In 2018, COURTS Singapore conducted their second annual Green Christmas, where 5% of proceeds from the purchases of selected water and energy-saving appliances were channelled towards providing clean and green homes for Singaporeans in need. This movement was in partnership with Habitat for Humanity and the Sustainable Singapore Movement.
Return to Tradition
The 2018 Christmas Orchard Road light-up, organised by the Orchard Road Business Association (Orba), was being widely criticised by Singporeans for its overt emphasis on Disney intellectual properties. As a result of this backlash, this year (2019)'s light-up has been changed to a more traditional style, and is themed "The Greatest Gift" with emphasis on Yuletide staples such as Christmas trees and presents.
Milestones of Gardens By The Bay
2019 will mark the 5th year of the Christmas Wonderland event, an annual year-end event held at the Gardens By The Bay since 2014. Asia’s tallest golden luminarie Christmas Tree, which stands at a height of 20.7 metres, can be found near Visitor Arrival Centre.
We hope you had fun reading! How about sharing this website with your friends who might want to learn more about Christmas around the world?