Tuesday, December 23, 2014


I asked the wonderful and talented DEVIKA FERNANDO to tell us about Christmas in countries other than the United States. She compares two below, Germany and Sir Lanka. Read on for her insights :) THANK YOU Devika!

Christmas in Germany and Christmas in Sri Lanka

First of all, thanks a lot for letting me loose on your blog (again). Here’s my guest post on the differences between Christmas in Germany and Christmas in Sri Lanka. I’ve peppered the text with links so you can get a better picture of it all. J

Christmas in Germany

During my childhood in Germany, Christmas meant 5 things: yummy sweets, presents, holidays, snow, and getting to spend some time with my grandmother. Later on I learned all the songs, I tried to understand why Father Christmas / Santa Claus was accompanied by the very frightening-looking Krampus on December 6th when he visited school, and I even went to church a few times.

There’s something magical in the air during Christmas in Germany – especially in the south where snowy Christmas is all but guaranteed and where there’s a Christmas market at every corner. The so called Weihnachtsmärkte (Christmas Markets) are very popular in Germany. You can find at least one in each town, and sometimes many more. In Munich alone, there are up to 25 of them. Of course each of them needs a huge, merrily decorated Christmas tree. Some are simply like huge fairs, where people walk around with a steaming mug of mulled wine and wander from stall to stall to gobble up traditional, home-made sweets like Plätzchen and Stollen, and to shop artsy-crafty gifts. Some are modern and commercial. Others resolve around a theme like the Middle Ages or reflect a village’s culture and customs. Even though I hardly ever bought anything, and even though I hate the cold with a vengeance, I will fondly remember walking through such Christmas Markets for the rest of my life. Aglow with lights and happy faces, awash with sweet and spicy and woodsy and waxy scents, and filled with things you only ever get too see around Christmas, they are a world of their own.

Christmas in Germany is inescapable. Not only because of the Markets and the Advent Calendars with 24 tiny gifts, but also because of the Sternsinger. A group of three (or more) children will wander from house to house, ring the bell and sing Christmas carols before drawing a blessing on the doorstep. They are dressed as the Three Wise Men from the Bible, and the money they receive for their songs is donated to charity for children.

Christmas in Sri Lanka

The majority of Sri Lankans is Buddhist, but at least 7% of the population are Christians. Around December, it feels like 70% though, because the media and public places are flooded with everything Christmassy you can image. It feels decidedly strange to have (artificial) Christmas Trees in shopping malls and hotels and restaurants – maybe because to me Christmas and snow are inseparable. And the temperature difference of 20 to 30 degrees Celsius sure makes itself known… Also, I can’t help laughing at Christmas carols sung in Sinhalese. I am used to German ones and I don’t mind English or Spanish ones either, but there’s something so incongruent about “Silent Night” sung in Sinhala that I can’t help but grin. Of course the food is different too, especially the Christmas Cakes and the traditional dinner (influenced by the English and Dutch colonialists).

Are there any similarities, you ask? Yes, the typical Christmas spirit of spreading joy. Christian Sri Lankans will throw lavish parties and invite friends from all religions to share the food and goodies. Children at international schools make decoration, and all the TV channels run kitsch stories about Baby Jesus, dubbed in Sinhala. Ultimately, it’s also about presents and togetherness and some moments of silent reverence among the shopping hullabaloo.

*Christmas Carols sung in Sinhalese https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EonrCveyAdc
*Christmas Cakes http://srilankafood.net/recipes/srilankanchristmascake/

DEVIKA FERNANDO writes incredible stories of romance, love, and real people in real situations. She can be found here and I HIGHLY recommend her books :)



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