Holiday Customs Differ in Countries Around the World

by Susie Pan

(giving gifts drawing)There are many countries over the world. Different countries have different customs, cultures, languages, and religions. They also have different holidays.

In some countries, they have holidays that others don't have. For example, in the United States Halloween [October 31st] is a special day for children. During Halloween, people dress up like monsters, ghosts, vampires and witches, etc. Then they walk door to door at night and ask for candies. However, in China and many other countries, they do not have Halloween.

Many countries have interesting holidays that the U.S. does not have. In Vietnam, they have Children's Day and Teacher's Day. There would be no school on both of these holidays. On Children's Day, fun places will be open for kids to get free rides. And on Teacher's Day , most students will go visiting their teachers and bring gifts for them, such as cards, flowers, and cakes. In China and in El Salvador they have similar holidays and they celebrate it in mostly the same way.

Most countries have Independence Day but they celebrate it in a different way. In El Salvador, Independence Day is on the 15th of September. On that day every school has to have a parade through the streets singing national songs and holding flags that represent the country.

In Sudan, a country in Africa, they have a very special holiday, called the "Feast of Dahis" which is the most ceremonious holiday in the country. There is no work for anybody on that day and people visit relatives and friends, and exchange their gifts.

In China, perhaps the three most important holidays are the New Year, the Moon Festival, and "Jing-Ming Jieh."

During New Year, everyone gets off from work and prepares to welcome the guests who come to visit them. On that day, everyone puts on their brand new clothes and go to their friends or relatives' houses to ask for "lucky money." But before the hosts give out the money, the visitors should say "Happy New Year" to them.

Every member of the family is reunited at that time of the year. They will sit all around the table and have New Year's dinner. In most of the families, they buy a lot of good food, such as lobster, scallops, shrimp, fish, meat... After dinner, people will be outside at about eleven or twelve midnight to watch the fireworks, which is very beautiful. But, unfortunately, now the fireworks are prohibited because it causes a lot of damage on buildings, plants and crops. Although that makes people have less fun in the New Year it's now safer.

"Jing-Ming Jieh" is a special day in China for remembering the dead. On that day, people go to their friends or relatives' cemetery, and clean their graves. After cleaning, they pray and put a bundle of flowers in front of the grave to show their esteem.

The Moon Festival is on the 15th day of the 8th "lunar" month, which is different every year. The Chinese lunar calendar is very different from the calendar we use today. On this day, the moon will be full at night. That's how we get its name "Moon Festival" or the "Mid-Autumn Festival." The family will once again get together and have a good dinner together. At night, people will go up to the balcony to admire the beautiful full moon and joke and have "moon cake." Moon cake is a special kind of cake that you only eat during the Moon Festival. Moon cakes are round and stuffed with many kinds of flavors, such as salted egg yolk, sweetened bean paste, and custard. They have a wide variety of designs, such as different characters and pictures.

Holidays are very important in each country, and each country has different ways of celebrating them.

Copyright © 1998, Silver International, Montgomery Blair H.S., Silver Spring, MD USA

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