Stettler gains Christmas traditions

Stettler is home to a diverse group of people, some of whom are far from home for Christmas this year.

Stettler resident P. Sreedharan Pillai said many of India’s Christmas celebrations take place outside.

Stettler is home to a diverse group of people, some of whom are far from home for Christmas this year.

The Independent spoke with some of those people about Christmas traditions in their homeland.

Christmas celebrations in the Philippines begin in September and don’t end until after New Year’s. Because the Philippines is a predominantly Christian country, Christmas is an important holiday, celebrated with many decorations.

“In the Philippines, you can see all the Christmas lights,” said Juliet Aquino, a Stettler resident originally from the Philippines.

Starting on Dec. 16, Filipinos have a mass every night until Dec. 25. Aquino won’t be home for Christmas this year, but will celebrate on Dec. 23 with a Filipino Christmas party.

Manny Cruz is also far from the Philippines for Christmas.

“Before Christmastime, all the families are joined together sharing food, waiting for Dec. 25,” Cruz said. “After that, when we reach Dec. 25, then we give our gifts.”

Cruz plans to spend Christmas with his brother in Edmonton.

Krishna Sarojini lives in Stettler, but is originally from India.

“According to our tradition, we first put a star in almost all the houses,” she said. “After that, we make Christmas trees.”

In some respects, Christmas in India doesn’t sound that different from a Canadian Christmas.

“On the day of Christmas … almost all the family members get together, and our friends also,” Sarojini said.

This year, Sarojini will celebrate Christmas with friends.

But there are some traditions in India that probably wouldn’t fly here, especially when it gets to -40 C.

Stettler resident P. Sreedharan Pillai said many of India’s Christmas celebrations take place outside. He said people march through the streets singing Christmas carols, and that it can sometimes last hours.

“Christmas carols are somewhat different from this place,” Pillai said. “Because of this climate condition, our celebrations (in Canada) are in a closed environment, but … ours are in the streets. People dance, but we can’t really do that here.”

This year, Pillai plans to celebrate Christmas with other Indian families in Stettler.

Some other Christmas traditions from around the world include:

— China celebrates with fireworks and acrobats, and in English Santa is called “Christmas Old Man” or “Nice Old Father.”

— On Dec. 6, German children leave their shoes outside to be filled with treats.

— In Mexico, those celebrating Christmas cut designs into paper bags and put lights inside, making a lantern called a farolito.

— In Sweden, Christmas celebrations kick off on Dec. 13, or St. Lucia’s Day. The oldest daughter in the family wears a white dress and a crown made of leaves and candles. She then goes to each bedroom and serves coffee and goodies.


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