A World of Joy: Christmas Traditions from Across the Globe
For many of those who celebrate, Christmas is an opportunity to return to their homes and loved ones, while others enjoy creating the warmth and comfort of ‘home’ by bringing cherished traditions to new surroundings.
Thanks to its status as a renowned centre for business and creative innovation, Cambridge is constantly becoming a new home to people from across the world and – whether they stay for two weeks, two years or a lifetime – our city thrives on this international and welcoming spirit.
To honour both the festive season and the diversity of our Cambridge community, Your Space has been researching symbols, sights and smells which define Christmas cheer around the globe, and we are excited to share just some of the wonderful customs we learnt about with you today.
Santas on the River in Cambridge, England.
While many believe that Father Christmas’ traditional mode of transport is a sleigh, a Cambridge Christmas involves keeping your eyes open to spot the jolly fellow gliding along the River Cam by punt (often accompanied by an elf or two). Sometimes, there are even multiple Santas out on the water, so people have to decide for themselves which is the real one!
Cookie Parties in Canada.
The kitchen often becomes the warm heart of the home at Christmastime and, as the special day approaches, many Canadians celebrate by inviting friends and family to their houses to bake cookies together. Each person brings their own special recipe so, at the end of the gathering, everyone leaves with an assorted batch of cookies to enjoy as well as sweet memories to treasure.
Carving Radishes in Oaxaca, Mexico.
Wherever they are in the world, people with a connection to the Mexican city of Oaxaca might buy a radish to help them feel festive. But this vegetable isn’t for the Christmas meal… Over a century ago, some enterprising farmers noticed the popularity of wooden carvings being sold at Christmas markets in Oaxaca and created their own designs using radishes. These proved hugely popular and, in 1897, the city’s mayor declared the 23rd of December ‘La Noche de Rabanos’ (the night of the radishes). Since then, the celebration has become an integral part of the Christmas countdown with locals taking part in a carving contest, creating everything from intricate nativity scenes to whimsical castles out of the red vegetables. Truly a feast for the eyes!
A Seafood Banquet in the U.S.A
On the subject of feasts, for many Italian-Americans, a highlight of the festive season is known as ‘The Feast of the Seven Fishes.’ This special meal takes place on Christmas Eve and involves families gathering to eat seven seafood dishes. The tradition has its background in the Roman Catholic custom of abstaining from eating meat on the eve of a feast day (fish was seen as an acceptable alternative) and the significance of the number seven in the Bible.
Although the majority of modern-day Italians are not actually familiar with the tradition, descendants of those who emigrated to the United States, regard the ‘Seven Fishes’ as way to celebrate their heritage at a time of year when thoughts are turned to the value of community and belonging.
The beloved customs we use to celebrate ‘our’ Christmases have the power to kindle connections with those around us as well as creating a sense of closeness to people and places many miles away.
Here at Your Space, we believe that, wherever someone has travelled in the world, at the end of the day, they should feel that they are ‘coming home.’ We are proud that our serviced apartments offer Cambridge visitors a place to stay in which they can celebrate any special moment whether by decorating the sizeable living space, cooking for guests in the fully-equipped kitchens or simply taking the time to relax in a cosy, restful atmosphere.
Whether you plan to celebrate Christmas with a glide down the Cam, radishes, cookies or not at all, the Your Space team hope the end of 2022 sees you happy and well, and we wish you all the best for the new year ahead.