Guiding Foreign Students in Practical Placement – Sharing Ideas and Good Practices

Christmas special: Cultural awareness in Christmas time

Merry Christmas! It’s a common sentence in December. But what is a “merry Christmas”? Is it about the remembrance of the birth of Jesus Christ, is it about Santa Claus and the presents he brings, about the decorated Christmas tree, about a big dinner together with family, is it a combination or is it about something else I didn’t mention yet?

To get an more extensive (Western or American) view about the meaning of Christmas you can click on this article. There you will find a collection of research done by several authors who observed different aspects of Christmas and how it reflects on different levels of society, behaviors, social and material bonds that are shared between individuals. Holiday depression is mentioned too.

What does Christmas mean to you? What pops up in your mind when you think about Christmas?

Within different cultures, there are many points of view about the meaning of Christmas and how to celebrate. Some examples are given to make you more aware that Christmas is not a definite concept, neither is the imagery that is present. Can you imagine Jesus being depicted as a colored baby?

If you would like to know more, please click on this article and read more about Christmas in Africa.

If you would like to see some more examples of how Christmas is celebrated around the world, click here.

In the well known (mostly American) Christmas movies, such as Home Alone, The Muppet Christmas Carol, Christmas is associated with cold weather and snow. But in the other half of the world, 25th of December is summer time as you can see from the picture below. You can also try it out by planning your next Christmas holidays Down Under!

christmas in summer

Read this article about a child’s Christmas in America[1]. To give you an perspective on the modern American Christmas celebration.

Some countries are worried about the widespread of this American Christmas[2] : ‘This article centers on the celebration of Christmas, the most important western festival, in the Chinese mainland to reflect cultural invasion from the west and provide approaches to cultural protection in China with the acceleration of globalization in 21st century.’

Can you imagine these worries?

Another example of globalisation of Christmas can be found in this article about Christmas in Japan[3]. A mix of KFC, Christmas ideology and Japanese cake together make another unique Christmas.

Hopefully, after reading the literature and watching the websites, you have a broader view on the celebration and meaning of Christmas. Now let’s quit this little lecture, go celebrate Christmas in the way you like the most (not celebrating, but happy with the free days included) and let’s respect the different opinions upon this subject. Be flexible and open-minded, keep it peaceful. If you want to know some more about strengthening your flexibility and open-mindedness, do not hesitate to check out our e-Coach Multicultural Competencies. More information on this blog.


[1] Belk, R.W (2004) A Child’s Christmas in America: Santa Claus as Deity, Consumption as Religion. Journal of American Culture 10 (1) pp. 87-100.