Wednesday to Sunday!
31 Jan – 4 Feb 2018
The Christmas period is when the toy trade has its highest level of sales. Almost 30 % of total toy sales can be attributed to Christmas trading in November and December. But when do children’s eyes light up all over the world because emerging from the wrapping paper is the longed-for plush animal, the wished-for model car or the latest action figure?
In Germany, Austria and Switzerland, children receive their presents on Christmas Eve from Father Christmas or the Christ Child. In the Czech Republic, Poland and the Scandinavian countries too, presents are opened on the evening of 24 December.
Papa Noel brings the presents in Argentina and Brazil, similarly on 24 December, although not until midnight. Traditionally they light a firework at the same time to celebrate the beginning of Christmas Day.
In many Anglophone countries like Canada, the USA, Australia and Great Britain, Santa Claus or Father Christmas comes during the night before Christmas Day. According to legend, he slides down the chimney and lays the presents under the Christmas tree or fills the Christmas stockings hanging round the fireplace. All the family then open their presents on Christmas morning. The South Africans follow the British tradition when celebrating Christmas.
Even though few Christians live in Japan, Christmas is celebrated there too. The shops and houses are decorated with fir branches and the presents are brought by a Buddhist monk called Hotei-osho. In India, Christians are similarly a minority (2.3% of the population), but here too Father Christmas brings the presents. In stationery shops you also find many kinds of Christmas stars.
Spanish children receive their presents from the Three Wise Men on 6 January. In preparation, the children fill their shoes with straw, carrots and barley as fodder for the men’s camels, and they leave them near the window or on the balcony. To thank the children for the fodder, Balthasar leaves presents in their shoes.
In Russia Christmas isn’t celebrated until January. The time for giving presents is New Year’s Eve. They are brought by Father Frost, accompanied by a snow maiden. Christmas itself is not until 7 January, in accordance with the Julian calendar that is still used by the Orthodox Church in Russia.
But not all people in the world celebrate Christmas. For example, Chanukah is celebrated in Jewish communities from 17 to 24 December 2014. This celebration can be traced back to the rededication of a temple after the uprising of the Maccabees. Children receive presents on each of the eight days of this festival.
Even though New Near – one of the most important festivals – is not actually celebrated in China until the middle of February, people there have realized that they can increase sales in the Christmas period. Despite the very small number of Christians in China, the western festival is now well positioned in the market. In the cities, you see Christmas trees and Christmas decorations, restaurants and hotels offer Christmas specials and the department stores attract customers with discount campaigns.
So Christmas trading doesn’t have to cease on 24 December. By taking account of different cultures, in some places you can extend the Christmas trade by several weeks.