“Advent, Christmas and New Year” was the title of a google hangout organised by Reinhard Marx of Germany. Five countries were involved:- Germany, Sweden, France, India and Australia. As school was still in for the other four countries, students from classes there presented on the theme. As students have finished school in Victoria, I shared what Christmas and New Year looks like here. Although we are increasingly becoming a multi-cultural country, Christmas is still our major festival and a special time for family gatherings.
It is rather surreal to sit in the classrooms of students across the world, from different countries and cultures. It was winter over in Europe so students were warmly dressed. It was hot in Hawkesdale – 38 degrees so I was dressed appropriately. The French students wore their Santa hats, some classes sang carols in their own language most shared presentations and enabled us to see how it was similar and different in our own countries. We may use different names for Santa Claus, Father Christmas, St Nicholas etc and we may celebrate Christmas and New Year on different dates, but many of us eat the same traditional foods, follow similar customs and the same carols.
Of most interest was the class from India whom many would associate with the Hindu religion but there are areas of India, (where the British predominantly settled) that are Christian in nature. Their different religions and cultures tend to be quite tolerant of each other, with Hindu and Muslim people wishing Christians a “Happy Christmas”.
I strongly feel that we need to hold on to our culture, celebrate our traditions, maintain the stories over the generations and share with others. We can develop empathy and understanding, tolerance and develop a culture of peace. Many governments and departments are trying to stay politically correct and ban or prevent the Christmas traditions in school, the work place and community in case it should offend others. However, all cultures should be able to celebrate their festival days and share with their fellow country people without fear!
Thank you Reinhard for this wonderful event. I learned so much about the history behind Advent, Christmas and New Year and the celebrations in other countries.
What major festivals do you celebrate? How do you celebrate them? Watch this video on Christmas in Australia, put together by a year 7 student last year.