Christmas around the world

December 19, 2011

Newburgh, NY -

A Philippine Christmas with the Gecosala family

While twinkling lights, sugar cookies and midnight mass comprise some of the traditional elements surrounding Christmas celebrations in the United States, customs differ a bit in other parts of the world.

“Back in Romania,” said Judit Langa, a nursing major at Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh, NY, “we went caroling to all of our neighbors, singing special religious songs about the birth of Jesus, and exchanged gifts with family and friends.”

On Christmas morning, the Maybrook, NY resident and her family opened gifts from Santa, sang more songs throughout the day, and enjoyed Christmas dinner in the afternoon – where the traditional food served was stuffed cabbage.

In Asia, the Philippines tradition is to have a roasted pig for Christmas dinner, said Nina Gecosala of Dobbs Ferry, NY, a history/education student.

Along with pork, the Christmas feast consists of ham, turkey, flan, lumpia shanghai – an egg roll filled with meat, and noodles.

Children play a traditional game – much like musical chairs in the U.S. -- on Christmas Day, said Gecosala.

“Kids sit in a circle and pass around presents until the music stops. We open the present we are left with when we freeze,” she said.

And in Brazil, Christmas is celebrated just like it is in America, said Newburgh resident Anna Andrianis, a 2011 Mount MBA graduate. One common tradition is the presépio, or nativity scene. The word originates from the Hebrew presepium which means the bed of straw upon which Jesus first slept in Bethlehem.

In addition to welcoming students of various traditions, the Mount offers several different types of study abroad programs: e.g. summer in Oxford, England, Segovia, Spain, and Florence, Italy. Semester or year-long programs offer more opportunities, including internships and volunteer service.