In India, only 2.3% of the population claim to be Christians, but that amounts to 25 million people! There are no fir or pine trees in that country, so they use banana or mango trees instead. Rather than boughs of cedar their homes are decorated with banana leaves.
Kentucky Fried Chicken, now known simply as KFC, is the rage in Japan for Christmas Day. In fact, it is anticipated that 240,000 barrels of chicken will be sold December 25, which will be five-ten times the normal monthly sales. And believe it or not, if you want to eat fried chicken, you had better make a reservation–at KFC!
When children rise on Christmas morning in the Ukraine, they look for an artificial spider and cobweb hidden somewhere in their Christmas tree. It is believed that the first person to find the spider and cobweb on the tree on Christmas morning will have good luck. Folklore says that a poor woman who could not afford to decorate her tree for her children woke up one Christmas morning to see the tree covered with spider webs. When the first light of day touched the silky threads, they turned to gold and silver. The family never lacked for anything else ever again.
Brooms are associated with Christmas in Norway, in a manner I never would have suspected. On Christmas Eve, all brooms in the house are hidden to prevent witches from riding on them. Men go outside and fire shotguns to scare bad spirits away.
There are many more, all of them interesting. But as I read back over these, there is one thing which strikes me as being not interesting, but very sad.
Not one of those traditions mentions the Baby Jesus. Not even the ones from our own country.
That's why it’s important that each of us take the time today to worship the Lord in our hearts, and as we gather with our families let us remind ourselves what the Day is about. When we exchange gifts, let us do so remembering the Gift of God's Son given to us. When we express our love to others, let it be as a small reminder of God's great Love He has for each of us. When we sit down to enjoy our meals today, let each part of the dinner serve as a reminder to us of the various ways God provides for us.
Traditions are important, and I hope your family has some which are unique to you. But don’t forget the “why” of Christmas! “For unto us a Child is born...” (Isaiah 9:6).
--Rocky Henriques, www.uticabc.com