Churches and cultures observe diverse Christmas celebrations

by Molly Larson

Even though Christmas is a well-known celebration, every church and culture celebrates it differently  (photo courtesy of @northwesternmn on Instagram).

During the month of December, churches and cultures across the world focus on celebrating the birth of baby Jesus. Even though it is a well-known celebration, every church and culture celebrates it differently.  

Dave Ellies, a junior criminal justice major, attends the Grand Rapids New Song Alliance Church with his family for the Christmas Eve service. Alliance is a non-denominational church, and for their Christmas Eve service they sing carols, and the pastor gives a message. At the end of the church service, the congregation circles the church singing “Silent Night” and “O Holy Night.” Ellies said his favorite Christian Christmas song is “The First Noel.” 

Cade Stinson is a sophomore communication studies and media production double major. Stinson and his family attend Reformed Baptist Church, and they go to the Christmas Eve service.  

Stinson said, “During this service, we dim all the lights and switch between reading parts of the birth of Jesus and singing Christmas songs. At the end of the service, we all light candles and sing ‘Silent Night’ as a congregation.” Stinson said that his favorite Christian Christmas song is “Hark the Herald Angels Sing.”

Eden Liu is a freshman public relations major and theater minor. In past Christmases, Liu has celebrated in Taiwan, where he is originally from. This year, he will be celebrating in Wisconsin, where his grandparents live. Christmas is not a holiday in Taiwan, but thanks to Liu’s American mother’s influence, he and his family celebrate Christmas whenever it is convenient for his parents, and they are off work. Some Taiwanese see Christmas as an American holiday and something fun to do. The capital city of Taipei has a “Christmas Village,” where the mayor of Taipei chooses a plaza by the Taipei 101 skyscraper and spends a lot of money on it, making light shows with beautiful Christmas trees.  

Liu said, “Taiwan has a big cultural push of Americanism/westernization, [and] people are very happy to celebrate Christmas. It’s a time for discounts, shopping, gift giving and western populism.” 

When Liu and his family celebrate Christmas in Taiwan, he talks about his mom always making Christmas dinner, which is usually ham in a crockpot cooked with pineapple. Then they Skype family in the United States and talk to them. While the kids open their gifts, their grandparents watch. 

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