Speaking in terms of geography, Southeast Asia includes the south of China, east of India and north of Australia, it really is a melting pot of cultural diversities. Christmas in Southeast Asia is celebrated with quite a lot of gusto and ancient traditions and customs are observed too. The festival also promotes the essence of family togetherness. Children are the ones who get all excited about Christmas and welcome the festival with great vigor and good cheer. The Christian population in Southeast Asia can mostly be traced to countries that include Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand. In these countries, during Christmas, people follow unique traditions and customs sincerely. The symbols of Christmas remain the same as the ones seen in Western countries. During the festival, it is quite common to spot a Christmas tree that has been exquisitely decorated in Christian households. Read on to know more about how Christmas is celebrated in Southeast Asia.
Christmas Customs In Different Countries
In the country of Philippines, Christianity is the main religion. The celebrations begin nine days prior to Christmas day with a mass known as Misa de Gallo. This marks the beginning of the festival. Bibilical stories about the Christ are read at churches. Pageants are held in the evenings during in which a couple is chosen to act as Joseph and Mary searching for shelter. Mass is held during every hour of Christmas day, so that everyone can attend it. Religious service that include nativity plays end with stars suspended from the roof of the church with an invisible wire. Old tribal customs such as serenading cumbacheros or strolling minstrels are given importance to during Christmas.
It is a known fact that the majority of the natives of Vietnam accepted Christianity during the rule of the French. Since then, Christmas is celebrated with great vigor and enthusiasm in Vietnam. After the midnight mass on the eve of Christmas, families enjoy a sumptuous feast that consists of chicken soup, turkey and pudding. Christmas trees and Christmas figures that resemble Santa Claus are very common in the country of Vietnam. Children also place their shoes out on the eve of Christmas, expecting it to be filled with gifts from Santa Claus.
Unlike, Christmas celebrations in Western countries, Christmas Day or the 25th of December in the country of Thailand just happens to be a working day. In other words, people in Thailand do not skip work because of Christmas. Though the majority of the natives in Thailand are Buddhists, they are always delighted when it comes to celebrating Christmas. All offices, colleges and universities function normally on Christmas day, but people enjoy themselves by wearing vibrantly colored clothes, while schools put up shows exclusively for children. Students early to school are welcomed by Santa Claus and are given sweets. Christian families in Thailand cook their favorite delicacies, decorate their homes and welcome Christmas with quite a lot of passion.
If you didn't know this, only 8% of Indonesians are Christians. Christmas celebrations are not much to speak of, but the festival is still celebrated in different parts of the country. Indonesia, is predominantly a Muslim country, because of which voices were raised against the celebrations of Christmas. However, this did not affect the festive mood, Christmas is still celebrated in the country. Christmas trees are elaborately decorated during the festival. Various charity functions are also conducted on this day.
Read about Christmas and its traditions in Philippines and Southeast Asia and Vietnamese Christmas customs.