The first time "O Little Town of Bethlehem" was sung it was by the
children of Holy Trinity Sunday school in Philadelphia on Christmas
Day. It was written by an Episcopal minister after his experiences
in the Holy Land. The music was written by Louis Redner.
O Little Town of Bethlehem
O little town of Bethlehem,
how still we see thee lie;
above thy deep and dreamless sleep
the silent stars go by.
Yet in the dark streets shineth
the everlasting light;
the hopes and fears of all the years
are met in thee tonight.
For Christ is born of Mary,
and gathered all above,
while mortals sleep, the angels keep
their watch of wondering love.
O morning stars together,
proclaim the holy birth,
and praises sing to God the king,
and peace to all on earth!
How silently, how silently,
the wondrous gift is given;
so God imparts to human hearts
the blessings of his heaven.
No ear may hear his coming,
but in this world of sin,
where meek souls will receive him, still
the dear Christ enters in.
O holy Child of Bethlehem,
descend to us, we pray;
cast out our sin, and enter in,
be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels
the great glad tidings tell;
o come to us, abide with us,
our Lord Emmanuel!
In South Africa Christmas is celebrated in December. People go to
the beaches and mountains where they eat Christmas Feasts, play games,
sing, dance and have parades. In Ethiopia Christmas is observed on
January 7, recognized as Three Kings' Day. In Ghana the celebration
is similar to the American and British. Flowers and palm branches
are used as Christmas motifs in homes and places of worship.
Although few people can survive the cold climate of the continent that
surrounds the South Pole, many animals and birds that live near the
coldest climate on Earth can be found on greeting cards, Christmas
ornaments, and other items bearing Seasonal motifs.
In Armenia lighted candles are used to celebrate Christmas. Gifts are
exchanged between children, and apples with coins stuck in them are
exchanged during the season. Another tradition is the climb to the
roof of a neighbors house, lower a basket, which is filled with
candy and homemade gifts.
Christians celebrate Christmas the same as other countries with
traditional shopping, cooking, and exchanging gifts. Homes are decorated
with paper chains, flowers, and lanterns. Children hang stockings
to be filled by "Christmas Old Man," i.e. Santa is called
Dun Che Lao Ren.
The Wise Men, Magi, were from this area of the world and the Three
Kings'Day is celebrated on January 7th to honor the birth of Christ.
Christmas is called "The Little Feast." Children do not exchange
presents but wear new clothes for the celebration held December 25.
Christians in Iraq commemorate the Christmas season through the read-
ing of birth of Christ and attending religious services. After the
religious service a member of the congregation is touched by a relious official
who in turn touches the one next to him and so on until everyone has
received the "touch of peace." Bonfires are also built during this
time, and when the bonfire dies down, everyone jumps into the ashes
and makes a Christmas wish.
Tangerines and fortune cookies decorate homes and trees. Besides
Christmas, which is celebrated by Christians in Japan, the Japanese
New Year "Kumade" is another exciting holiday which begins in mid-
November and continues through December to the New Year.
In the Philippines the celebration of Christmas begins on the 16th of
December and ends on January 6, to commemorate the arrival of the
Three Kings or Adoration of the Magi. Colored lights decorate
doorways and windows, and the "parol" or Christmas Star is a
primary motif, sometimes created by entire communities.
Australians celebrate Christmas in midsummer. A favorite tradition among
Australians is singing traditional carols while holding a lighted
Trees with candles rather than artifical lights are a strong
tradition in Austria.
Popular gifts among Russian children are Nesting dolls. Ornate, and
beautiful eggs are used to decorate, and Russian Madonna and Child
Icon paintings are some of the most expressive in the world.
Puerto Ricans celebrate "Felices Pascuas" where families and friends gather to
share festive meals of arroz con pollo, rice and chicken, and roasted pig.
On January 5, the eve of Three Kings'Day, children leave boxes under their beds
for the kings to fill the gifts. The boxes are filled with grass
with cups of water for the camels to eat and drink.
In Mexico, Navidad begins with a nine day custom called posadas or
"lodging" which symbolizes the journey of Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem
and their search for shelter. Pinatas are a part of the celebrations
and gifts are given on January 6. Children write letters to the Magi
telling of their good deeds and gifts they would like.
Christmas celebrations begin on December 1 in Bolivia. Nativity
scenes are displayed with pastoras, flowers similar to Poinsettias.
Celebrations activities include religious services and gifts placed
quietly around sleeeping children.
There are no Christmas trees but an old Brazilian legend says that
even the aniamls talk to each other about the birth of Christ on this
one of the most Holy of Nights.
In Ecuador, Christmas and New Year's are celebrated as one.
Firecrackers, noisemakers, bands, and dancing in the streets are
traditional customs prior to a midnight religious service and