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SPECIAL PROJECT: The Ambassadors tell about New Year's and Christmas traditions

Author: 25.12.2018 | traditions, new year, christmas
All over the world, winter brings bright celebrations to people's homes, the traditions of how to celebrate them are born. The customs of one state differes from the other but people from different corners of the planet are equally waiting for miracles, pleasant surprises and a good fairy tale. On the eve of the New Year holidays, we decided to ask the diplomats about the peculiarities of New Year and Christmas celebrations in their countries.

Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Australia to Ukraine H.E. Melissa O'Rourke, tells about tradition of holiday celebration in Australiaавстралія.jpeg

In Australia, celebration of Christmas and the New Year Day are very different. It is for one simple reason: we have summer year-round, therefore every resident of our country likes spending time in the fresh air. Cities compete with each other in decoration, holiday illumination, and number of shimmering lights. Local residents do not fall behind them and in advance decorate their houses and New Year tree with bright lights. As a rule, it is made of plastic, because a real fur-tree is fire-hazardous.

Families gather on December 25 to celebrate Christmas and exchange gifts, devoting special attention to children. The choice of dishes for Christmas lunch varies greatly. Some stick to traditional delicacies such as turkey or ham, others prefer barbecue, fresh seafood is also very popular.


The Australians often celebrate this day on the beach or in the city park. It is hard to imagine the Ukrainians celebrating Christmas on the beach, though the Australians can happily swim all Christmas day, play cricket in their backyard or sunbath sipping favorite drink. I would like to note that Boxing Day, which is celebrated on December 26, is an important day for us. This is also the start of yacht racing from Sydney to Hobart. Usually these days people "attack" stores to buy goods with special Boxing Day discounts.

The New Year's Eve is the time for fireworks and parties. Every major city in Australia launchуs festive fireworks at midnight. The brightest show takes place in Sydney. Its glory goes far beyond Australia. Thousands of people gather on the coast near the Sydney harbour in order to enjoy the night sky painted in different colors and witness the truly bright "dance of fireworks."

Mrs. María Inés Martínez de Pires Diz, Attaché of the Embassy of the Argentine Republic in Ukraine, tells about tradition of holiday celebration in Argentina.аргентина.jpg

In Argentina, the second-largest country in South America, people strictly adhere to the Roman Catholic beliefs. Argentina has a long history of passing these traditions and customs from generation to generation. New Year Day in the country is traditionally celebrated at late dinner with close friends and family. Another important part of the holiay season is shots of firecrackers.

There are several other popular, well-known and interesting rules that most people in Argentina follow. According to tradition, one should run around the house carring a suitcase, since some people believe that this will bring more trips next year. There is also a custom to eat beans for the New Year dinner. The Argentines believe that it will bring success in the career or chances for a new and better job. There is no way to celebrate New Year Day without swimming in private and public swimming pools, rivers and lakes.

In Argentina, there is no tradition of making a wish for the New Year Day. The majority of the population is Catholics, so in the first days of new year they prefer to go to church to pray for happiness, peace and prosperity.

The Christmas season ("La Navidad") in Argentina is marked by specific religious dates. It begins on December 08 from the Catholic holiday "Fiesta de la Virgen" (the Feast of Immaculate Conception). Argentina is very warm during the Christmas period. This day, families exhibit nativity scene, a Christmas tree, switch on holiday lights and decorate houses. Christmas is strongly connected with family and friends. In the evening, children put their shoes under Christmas tree or near the bed to find sweets, fruits and small toys from Papá Noél in the morning. In the most traditional families in Argentina, children still leave hay and water outside for horses of the three magi, believing that this benevolent act will be awarded one of the best Argentine presents - a colorful lantern that "will light up next year La Navidad and Christmas in Argentina."

Argentine buildings these days attract by illumination, and green, gold, red and white flowers. Christmas trees are usually decorated on December 08. Artificial trees in the country are much more common than real ones. The traditional pesebre or nativity scene is also an important holiday tradition in Argentina. People gather for festive dinner at about 10 – 11 p.m. Often it is arranged in the garden or near the barbecue area. Among the most popular dishes are fried turkey, vitel tone (slices of beef under the cream sauce with tuna and anchovies) and many different types of sandwiches. As a dessert, there is Christmas sweet bread like cupcakes. At midnight on December 24, sounds of fireworks can be heard from everywhere. The opening of gifts is mandatory before midnight. If you visit Argentina during Christmas, you will be fascinated by beauty of the colored lanterns launched in the night sky.

The spouse of the Ambassador of Georgia to Ukraine Mrs Irina Sultanishvili, tells about tradition of holiday celebration in Georgiaгрузія.jpeg

The New Year Day in Georgia is one of the most important holidays with traditional long family dinner, which we call supra. Often the number of relatives reaches 20 people. The mandatory holiday attribute is beautifully and elegantly decorated New Year tree. Christmas is a purely religious holiday in Georgia.

During the Georgian feast dinner, the hostess shall serve dish satsivi made of turkey and pea sauce, kozinaki (sweets made of walnuts and honey) and churchhela made of grape juice and nuts.

New Year holidays is time when everyone tries to visit as many friends and relatives as possible or at least to call them with kindest wishes. Young people often attend entertainments in restaurants and nightclubs, however, for the most people it is still a family holiday. The same way as in Ukraine, at midnight we raise our glasses of champagne.

On January 1st, the first person entering the house is called Mekvle. It is believed that this visitor will bring joy and happiness to the hosts and their house. Therefore Mekvle is a very important person for the family. Families sometimes ask their relatives and friends to be Mekvle in their homes.

Interestingly, if a family has a child, then after midnight, the child leaves the house, and then goes back, so the little one becomes Meckel for the family.

Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Indonesia to Ukraine H.E. Yuddy Chrisnandi, tells about tradition of holiday celebration in Indonesiaіндонезія.jpeg

Jakarta is the city with the biggest New Year celebrations in Indonesia. The capital, as a rule, is decorated with colorful lights at the streets, on buildings, restaurants, hotels until mid-January. Every year Jakarta authorities arrange entertaining events in all parts of the capital, and the most significant ones take place in the city center. The streets are free from cars, outside there are culinary festivals, fairs and street performances. The Indonesian theme park of miniatures features folk entertainments, plays local music dangdut, non-stop puppet shows and fireworks.

The Indonesians like to make gifts on the eve of the New Year Day, and Christians - on the eve of Christmas. Among the most common gifts are batik and sarong.

The importance of Christmas for Christians in Indonesia is related to the birth of Jesus Christ. Often, this event is accompanied by performances of children's choirs. Christmas time is used to visit friends, relatives and go to church.

The famous exotic island of Bali welcomes more tourists during the Christmas holidays and on the eve of the New Year Day. Both locals and tourists enjoy a party on Kuta Beach - the most crowded place in Bali during season holidays. The annual New Year's festival is rich in traditional Indonesian games. Most of the Christian villages in Bali are located in the south of the island, and before Christmas, their inhabitants decorate all roads with yellow coconut leaves. This is an interesting tradition.


In the Yogyakarta area, on the Java island, the most popular places to celebrate Christmas are the beaches. Of course, you will not see any snow here, but you welcome to enjoy Christmas surfing festival. The Theater of Shadows will also offer great performances for every taste. On the island of Flores, representatives of the Mong Ghar people hold a musical contest for playing abamboo called Christmas Cage. The sound of this instrument symbolizes the joy of the birth of Christ, and it is heard even in far away villages.

In the region of Papua, after the Christmas procession, local residents start Barapen ritual, which involves cooking of pork on a hot stone. It is heated without matches. While Papua men are digging a hole where they put hot stones, women are cooking vegetables - sweet potatoes, spinach, ferns, cassava and papaya. The Barapen ritual of cooking food together is an expression of gratitude, unity and love for each other.

On the island of Ambon, there is the ceremony cucinegeri (purification of the nation), which symbolizes cleansing and liberation from sins of the local population. People gather in the community, sing songs and dance together under the sounds of tif (traditional musical instrument). Celebration in this region is unique in that on the eve of Christmas at the same time the ship's sirens go off, and the church bells are ringing.

The ethnic group Toraja celebrates Christmas, holding a festival called Lovely December with mass dances, cooking dishes, a colorful carnival. The festival ends with the procession of Lettoan - a parade of pigs with symbols representing different dimensions of human life. It is about prayer and hope for better future, about the sun - the source of life, and about the flower of Tabanga - a symbol of success.

Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Iraq to Ukraine H.E. Bakir Ahmed Aziz, tells about tradition of holiday celebration in Iraq.Ірак.jpeg

Every year the Iraqis celebrate the New Year Day, a public holiday for all ministries, universities and schools. The same as in other countries, New Year events can be arranged in private or public places. So, some Iraqi families gather in homes of friends or relatives, and on the eve they organize everything they need, in particular, they cook delicious national dishes, eastern and western sweets, various cakes.

Restaurants and entertainment establishments usually arrange holiday performances. It is popular to go on a New Year trip to the regions of Iraq and abroad.

On the New Year Day people send each other wishes of happiness, prosperity and success, pray for health of children and adult family members, for successful studying, etc. People wish their grandparents long years of life and good health. In addition, they can present certain amounts of money.

Some squares and shopping centers in Baghdad and other Iraqi cities install shining Christmas trees, however, they are not as rich and lush as in European countries. On the New Year holiday main highways and administrative centers of provinces are decorated with celebratory illumination. It is worth noting that New Year celebrations do not belong to the original Iraqi traditions: they were borrowed from the outside due to interaction and contacts with foreign cultures.

Along with Christian chronology, the Muslim lunar calendar (hijrah) is used in Iraqi territory. However, this does not prevent the Iraqis from celebrating the Christian New Year, moreover, it is an indication that, at any event, the inhabitants of the country seek to show their respect and kindness to people from different parts of the world, regardless of their religious, national, racial or linguistic origin. It also confirms that Iraqi culture takes on the positive features of other cultures that bring peace.

Throughout its history, Iraq has respected the rights of religious communities to hold their rituals. In particular, as part of the celebration of Christmas, which is very important for the Christians of Iraq, this holiday is celebrated with solemn worship services in ancient and modern churches and monasteries throughout the country. On this occasion, the President and the Prime Minister, as well as Muslim compatriots, who for hundreds of years live in one land in mutual respect, harmony and partnership, send to the Christians in Iraq their greetings and warm wishes. One of the fundamental principles of Islam is positive openness to others, as well as the manifestation of tolerance and understanding.

Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Uzbekistan to Ukraine H.E. Alisher Abdualyev, tells about tradition of holiday celebration in Uzbekistan.узбекистан.jpeg

The New Year holiday for the inhabitants of Uzbekistan is one of the most beloved and most anticipated holidays. As a rule, for this charming holiday everyone is waiting for abundant snowfalls which are rare for this region. If in holiday season all around is covered with fluffy snow, we believe that the holiday turned out to be real: with the fragrance of alive fir-tree, spicy scent of jellied meat which acquired its special aroma from being kept outside in frosty weather, making snowmen and and sleigh riding.

The New Year Day in Uzbekistan is celebrated twice a year. First, according to the European style on January 01, and the second time on March 21 (Navruz). Both of these days are public holidays. The New Year Day on January 01 is a more secular holiday, which is celebrated with all the relevant attributes.

The same as around the world, Uzbekistan has its own Santa Claus - his name is Korbobo (kor means - frost, and bobo - grandfather), and its own Snow Maiden - her name is Korkiz (kor means - snow, kiz - girl). There is a donkey instead of a deer. However, not often you can see Korbobo riding a donkey.

Traditionally, in Uzbekistan New Year table is full of fruits. In addition to traditional national dishes, there shall be a watermelon. The more ripe and sweet it is, the better will be the coming year. If you have a cherished wish, you have to eat 12 grapes while clock strikes twelve and it will surely come true!

Mandatory salads are olivier and norin (finely chopped and garnished dough with meat), also we bake samsa. Before the New Year Day people visit close relatives, especially elderly or lower-income people, to wish them a festive mood, to give presents and to share holiday food with them.

Residents of the country celebrate the New Year Day mostly at home with family, where all its members are present. The eldest family member reads the surah from the holy book of the Qur'an and wishes everyone good luck and success in new year. At this time, the youth with the blessing of the elders, joins their friends and then celebrates outside the home.

Usual New Year present for senior people is clothing (shirt, sweater, scarves, slippers, etc.), and for children - toys. In the capital, on the main square, there is alive fur-tree, favoured by children and decorated with balloons, sparkling with lights of the garlands. The youth comes here to hear the strokes of the Tashkent chimes at magic night. The main square of Tashkent, which is called Mustakillik (Independence), features folk festivals, drawing of lottery, national dances; you can buy various masks, fir trees and gifts. Theaters stage wonderful holiday performances, and cinemas, cafes, clubs and restaurants are crowded with visitors.

Next day, many people with friends go to the ski resort area near Tashkent. The most popular places are Chimgan and Beldersay. Both are located at an altitude of 1500 m above sea level in the mountains of the Southwest Tien Shan, only 80 km from Tashkent and 4 km from each other.

The OUTLOOK project expresses gratitude to our partner embassies for interesting stories and wishes Happy New Year holidays to representatives of all diplomatic missions and our readers.

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