Armenia to Bosnia


Shnorhavar Soorp Dznount

Armenians celebrate Christmas on January 6 with a water blessing symbolizing Christ's baptism. Christmas is a joyous time, but the holiday is a true holy day with fewer festivities and more contemplation and prayer than in Western countries. Some Armenian families eat fish during the holiday because it was blessed by Christ. Pomegranates may also be eaten as a symbol of lavishness.


Froliche Weihnachten

Austrians celebrate St. Nicholas Eve on December 6, Christmas Eve on December 24 and Christmas Day on December 25. Families gather on Christmas Eve to enjoy dinner, featuring baked or fried carp. Christkind (Christ child), often a young woman dressed in robes, visits Austrian homes giving out gifts to children. The beloved Christmas carol "Silent Night" was composed in Austria in 1818.


Vyaselykh Kalyad

In addition to Christmas, many citizens of Belarus celebrate Kaliady, a pagan festival that takes place from December 25 to January 7. Many dress in elaborate animal costumes, sing songs, make music and perform plays. Foods such as kuccia (a barley dish), herring, vinihret (a beet salad), and kalachi (fruit-filled pastries) grace the holiday table.


Joyeux Noel (French), Vrolijk Kerstfeest (Dutch), Frohe Weihnacthen (German), Vrolike Kerstmis (Flemish)

Belgium is a land of many languages and customs. St. Nicholas visits Walloon-speaking Belgians twice. On December 4, he visits homes to determine if children have been good. On December 6, his birthday, he returns and gives gifts of sweets and toys to good children and twigs to those who have misbehaved. Francophones receive a visit from Pere Noel on December 6. Dutch-speaking Belgians are visited by St. Nicholas on December 6. Families enjoy baking (and eating!) speculoos (spiced cookies shaped like St. Nicholas) and buche de Noel (a yule log cake).


Feliz Navidad (Spanish), Kampliment a di seezn (Kriol)

Belize's rich cultural diversity translates into a mosaic of holiday celebrations. For the nine evenings of Las Posadas (celebrated by Mestizo culture), statues of Mary and Joseph are carried throughout town, from home to home, accompanied by music, dance, fireworks and other festivities. In Garifuna culture, the "Charikanari" dance interprets the relationship of a bull with a hunter with elaborate costume, fun and games. And Kriol (Creole) communities in Belize celebrate the Bram, a parade of dancing, singing and music-making throughout the countryside.


Srethi Prazhici (Happy Holidays)

Depending upon religious affiliation, some Bosnians celebrate Christmas; others celebrate New Year's Day. Traditional holiday foods include pojaca and hjleb, tasty traditional breads. Sarma (a cabbage, beef and rice dish) is also served the holidays.


Feliz Navidad

In Bolivia, Christmas centers on the birth of Jesus. Gifts come from Jesus and Santa Claus delivers those gifts. This religious holiday is spent with family, celebrated with special dinners, consisting of picana, a soup made of chicken, roast beef or roast pork; salads; and a variety of tropical fruits.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Sretan Bozic; Bajram Mubarek Olsun

Depending upon religious affiliation, some Bosnians celebrate Christmas; others celebrate the Islamic holiday festival Eid. Everyone celebrates the New Year. Traditional holiday foods include pogaca and hljeb, tasty traditional breads. Sarma (a cabbage, beef and rice dish) is also served.