Since we did the Yuletide Fantasy tour this year, it was especially interesting to hear about the holiday traditions, and to see how our holiday traditions in the U.S. are descended from those in older countries. When it comes to holiday traditions, the U.S. hasn't been very original. :-)
I'm going to go clockwise around World Showcase, starting with Mexico, even though that's not the way I saw them on the three different days that I watched the storytellers. :-)
|Los Tres Reyes Magos|
The "holiday tradition" that we have inherited from Mexico is the use of the poinsettia flower, though it's called the "Flores de Noche Buena" (Flowers of the Holy Night) in Mexico.
According to the legend of the poinsettia, on Christmas Eve a poor beggar
boy offered up a bouquet of leaves, all he had to give, to the Christ
Child, and they miraculously turned into a mass of brilliant red
blossoms. Feliz Navidad!
We haven't really
inherited any holiday traditions from Norway which is too bad, because
they have a *3 day* Christmas celebration! I think I prefer turkey and
dressing to Christmas porridge, though. :-) God Jul! (Go Yule)
|The Monkey King|
We've inherited several German traditions - the Christmas tree being
probably the best known. But our Santa Claus shares some of his origins
with St. Nicholas - after all, St. Nicholas is another of his names!
Freuliche Weinachten! (FROH-lick-a VINE-awk-ten)
The tradition of the Nativity scene comes from Italy - St. Francis of Assisi is credited with coming up with the idea. Buon Natale!
In the America pavilion all Santa does is pose for pictures...rather
disappointing compared to the other storytellers! Though maybe because
we've borrowed so many holiday traditions from elsewhere, he doesn't
have anything to talk about? :-) Ho, ho, ho...Merry Christmas!
|The Daruma Seller|
The Daruma dolls have eyes without pupils, and by tradition at New Years you make a wish and paint a pupil in the Daruma's left eye. Then when your wish comes true, you paint in the other pupil. If it doesn't...you can try again the next year. :-) Akemashite Omedetou Gozaimasu! (Ah-kay-MASH-tay oh-meh-day-too go-zy-MAH-su)
In Morocco the Taarji (drummer) describes the Muslim holy season of
Ramadan. During the month of Ramadan, Muslims fast from sunrise
to sunset and then feast at night. It is a time of reflection and gathering
together with family and friends. Because the Islamic year follows
a 12 month lunar calendar (with only about 354 days a year)
the season of Ramadan varies - and sometimes
falls during the summer months! In 2003 it began ~October 27 and ended
~November 24. Hmmm...maybe we wouldn't gain all of those holiday pounds
if we feasted *and* fasted! :-)
In France after midnight mass people gather for a feast called Le Reveillon - hmmm...I hope after all that the French children don't try to wake their parents up at the crack of dawn to open gifts! :-) The French borrowed the idea of the "creche" (Nativity scene) from the Italians, though in their scenes they also include figures of local townspeople. The Buche de Noel (Yule log cake) comes to us from the French - though the American version of this seems to be fruitcake. Ick. :-) (Does anyone actually eat fruitcake???)
Pere Noel told us
that the French government even gets into the
holiday spirit - they pay the postage for letters to Pere Noel as long as
a return address is included. Joyeaux Noel!
Last but not least is Canada's Papa Noel. He's a jolly, manly Santa,
dressed in a red-checked flannel shirt, eh? And of course he gets all of
his reindeer from Canada. :-) When you consider that Canada was
originally settled by the British and the French, it's not surprising
that their traditions combine the two - with a little bit of German
and Inuit thrown in for good measure. They celebrate midnight
mass and Le Reveillon, as well as Boxing Day, and on Christmas Eve
the children are visited by Belsnickel (a rather mean character
they got from the Germans) to make sure they are behaving, and
threatened with the Naluyoks (some nasty Inuit creatures, though
I don't know how that's spelled) if they are bad. Merry Christmas!
So that's my tale of the storytellers...if you're ever at Epcot during the holiday season I highly recommend that you try to visit at least a few of them. None of their presentations are very long - 5-10 minutes - and they can be very entertaining - especially the Monkey King and Julenissen.
Laura and Lee's December Disney Vacation
Tigger's Christmas Carols
Holidaze with Tigger and Stitch
Back to Laura and Lee's Vacation page
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Text and photographs copyright © 2003, 2004 by Laura Gilbreath. All rights reserved.
Laura Gilbreath lgil at
lgil dot net
Last updated 2/1/04