December 22, 2009

Pinvestigation: Holidays Around the World

Today we continue our Holiday series on the GDP, with a Pinvestigation of Holidays Around the World at Walt Disney World. (NOTE: Many of these pictures are taken at different times during the day, over a couple trips so they are a bit different, as well as some pictures are from Michael Bachand’s All Ears Net Blog.)


Entering into Showcase Plaza, you see Epcot’s Christmas tree, featuring themed ornaments from around the world, many of the ball ornaments have countries flags that represent many of the Pavilion’s in Epcot’s World Showcase.007

The Epcot Tree, was the inspiration for the Holidays Around the World Vinylmation (pictured below), as the Vinylmation features ornament ball consisting of the flags of the pavilions of the park. IMAG0015 008

Throughout the pavilions, each country features storyteller to tell about the countries’ traditions and customs of the holidays.

Starting off on the right and moving to the left around the Lagoon, we will be starting in Canada. Canada features the show A Christmas Journey featuring Nowell, a Canadian lumber jack, and tells of his journey to find Santa at Christmas time. The scrolls in each country let guests know where the storyteller will be located and gives a synopsis of the traditions of the country and the storyteller.019The scroll read:

"From the waterways of eastern Newfoundland to the snowcapped mountains of British Columbia, the Christmas holidays hold special magic for the vast expanse of Canada.

Although favorite traditions such as awaiting Santa Claus, or le Pere Noel, trimming the evergreen, and singing Christmas carols are similar to those commonly found in the Untied States and Europe, Canada has many unique holiday traditions as well.

In some traditional Canadian homes, Santa Claus enlists the help of devilish creatures called Belsnickles to determine which children have been "naughty or nice". The Belsnickles supposedly enter the homes of naughty boys and girls to cause mischief.

Even Canada's Inuit children are visited by mysterious creatures call Naluyuks who travel from house to house. The children must sing Christmas carols to appease the Naluyuks, who pound sticks on the floor before questioning the children about their behavior. When the children say they've been good, which they always do, the Naluyuks open special gift bags full of wonderful presents.

In Quebec, le reveillon, a sumptuous traditional French dinner, is served after Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve.

Most of Canda celebrates Boxing Day on December 26, in honor of the acient English tradition of giving filled Christmas boxes to tradesmen for their help during the year."

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Moving into the United Kingdom, if you move back near the stage where the British Invasion plays, you see the UK scroll which lets Father Christmas tell his story of Christmas. 024

"Many wonderful Christmas traditions originated in the countries of the United Kingdom. Great Britain, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Each have unique holiday customs, and many of these have been shared worldwide. Well-known Christmas carols such as "Deck the Halls" and Here We Come a Wassailing" were first sung in the United Kingdom.

The tradition of Christmas cards also began in the United Kingdom. In 1843, John Calcott Horsley sent a card depicting an English family brimming with cheer to his friend Sir Henry Cole. The original card caught the attention of a British giftbook company, which published a thousand lithographed copies and sold them for a shilling each.

Not surprisingly, the hanging of mistletoe is one of the United Kingdom's oldest and most popular traditions, dating back to the Druidic ceremonies of the winter solstice. Each time a kiss was claimed under the mistletoe, the young man would pick off one berry. The kissing would end when all the berries were gone!

For children, Father Christmas, with his long white beard, green robe, and crown of holly, is still treasured as the jolly gift-bearer who brings holiday joy to the well-behaved."

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Moving on over to France, Pere Noel read’s his letter from a little girl named Babette, and he recreates the magic of Christmas through the eyes of a child. This stage location is located near the front entrance pavilion near the “advertisement” board.026

"The magic of Christmas can be seen everywhere in France. The shops and baraques, or booths, along the beautiful boulevards are brimming with toys, glittering lights, and Christmas decorations of every imaginable kind.

Children eagerly await le Pere Noel (Father Christmas), who arrives on Christmas Eve to deliver wonderful presents. Most churches and homes display a beautiful nativity scene called a creche, which is considered on of the most important symbols of Christmas to the French. Traditionally, candles are lit around the creche: sometimes a special Yule log is also burned on the fire.

After families return from Midnight Mass, they enjoy the feast called le reveillon, which often consists of ham, goose, oysters, salads, cheese, champagne, and Buche de Noel, a delicious chocolate cake shaped like a Yule Log.

Children then set out shoes around the Christmas tree in great anticipation of le Pere Noel who fills them with all sorts of goodies!"

Morocco features Taarji with his drum, as he celebrates the customs of Ramadan and Ashura. He tells his story along the lagoon, and in front of the waterwheel and the Henna tattoo shop.



"Two major holidays of Morocco are Eid al-fitr and Eid al-Adha.

One of Morocco's holiest celebrations is the moth of Ramadan, which commemorates the month in which Allah revealed to the Muslin People, the Holy book, The Quran. During the month of Ramadan, Muslims observe a strict fast and participate in various activities including charitable giving and peace-making. It is a time of intense spiritual renewal for those who observe it. At the end of Ramadan, Muslims throughout the world observe a joyous three-day celebration called Eid al-Fitr, the Festival of Fast-Breaking. Eid al-Fitr falls on the first day of Shawwal, the moth which follows Ramadan in the Islamic calendar. It is a time to give charity to those in need, and celebrate with family and friends the completion of a month of blessings and joy.

On the 10th day of Zul-Hijjah, the last month of the Islamic calendar, Muslims around the world celebrate Eid al-Adha, the Festival of the Sacrifice.

People of Morocco also celebrate Ashura. The word "Ashura" literally means "10th", as is it on the 10th day of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic year. Ashura is an ancient observance that is now recognized for different reasons and in different ways among Muslims. In Morocco, one of the most beautiful traditions of Ashura happens after teh sunset. On the night of Ashura, families join together to eat traditional Moroccan dishes and sweets. Kids are given gifts, toys, sweets, and often a special drum called a taarija. From the largest cities to the smallest, bonfires are built by children who sing and dance around it all night. People of Morocco celebrate the joy, color, and traditions of the Feast of Ashura."


Since Japan doesn’t celebrate Christmas, the story teller is a Daruma Vendor. He or she (i have seen both telling the story) tell the fascinating story of the Daruma doll and the Japanese customs of the New Year.


The Daruma doll is a symbol of perseverance and good luck in Japan. As part of New Year's celebration, Daruma dolls are given as a gift of encouragement. The dolls when purchased does not have eyes painted on them. When the holder of the Daruma doll commits to attain a goal or a big task one eye is painted. The other eye is painted only when the goal is achieved or the task accomplished. So, the Daruma doll serves as both a reminder and a source of encouragement.

Moving over the the American Adventure pavilion featuring three holidays, Kwanzaa, Hanukah and Christmas. Another tree in Epcot is the tree in American Adventure. 233

Santa’s Village is the area of Epcot to meet Santa and Mrs. Claus, as well as a little “marketplace” where you can buy some toys and such. 052

Near the entrance of Santa’s Village is the Kwanzaa stage and storytelling area. Where the storyteller lets audiences experience the spirit of Kwanzaa, a celebration of family, creativity and community. 232

“Kwanzaa is an African-American harvest and community festival that has it's roots in the civil rights era of the 1960's. It was founded as a way of reaffirming african-American identity, instilling knowledge and pride in African roots, and reinforcing bonds among members of the community.

Kwanzaa is devoted to seven principles, known collectively as Nguzo Saba: Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia (Self-Determination), Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity), and Imani (Faith).

Although it was first observed solely by African Americans, Kwanzaa is now celebrated by and estimated 18 million people in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, Britain, India, and some African nations."


231 Kwanzaa storyteller

Inside the American Adventure waiting area is the Hanukkah storytelling area. The host lets guests discover the connection of today’s Hanukkah traditions and the story of the brave Maccabees and the map that burned miraculously for eight day. 

Chanukah storyteller

Working your way around, the next stop is Italy. Where guests visit with Italy’s good Christmas Witch, La Bafana, as she remembers the Epiphany and her first Christmas 2,000 years ago. 061 062

The story goes that La Befana was an old and poor woman who lived at the time of Jesus's birth. She was visited by the three kings and asked to go with them as they searched for the new born child. She declined. She also refused to go with the shepherds who came by as well. When she finally decided to go in search of baby Jesus she gathered up and old doll, one of her few possessions, and set off. Unfortunately she got lost and never found him. So, to this day she visits children's house in search of the baby Jesus and leaves the children gifts.


Germany features the storyteller of Helga, telling the story of the first Christmas tree and the tale of the first Nutcracker.073

"The German Yuletide season is a magical time when friends and family celebrate together! Many of Germany's rich customs and traditions of the season have been adopted all over the world.

It was Germany who produced the first tannenbaum (Christmas tree). According to legend, while walking in the woods one snowy evening, Martin Luther was overcome by the beauty of the starlight sparkling on the fir trees. As the light from the heavens shone all around him, he was reminded of the star that shone on the night the Chriskindl (Christ child) was born. He wanted to share this magic with his children, so he brought home a fir tree from the forest. He even fashioned a way to clip candles on the tree to make it look as though the branches were covered in glistening snow.

On Heiligabend (Christmas Eve), German parents secretly decorate the tannenbaum with candies, nuts, glass baubles, and twinkling lights. A bell is rung, the tannenbaum is presented, and the children race to open presents and snatch the goodies from the tree."



Like Japan, China does not celebrate Christmas, so instead they have the Monkey King, who shares his tall tale celebrating Chinese New Year. 079

“The story of Sun hou-kong, the Monkey King, is an ancient Chinese legend that tells an exciting tale of redemption and enlightenment.

Sun hou-kong, a monkey raised by humans, became the Monkey King when he single-handedly defeated a horrific monster in his homeland. Afterwards, the Monkey King acquired incredible powers when he cleverly uprooted magic stick guarded by the Dragon King. With this magic stick and the ability to do just about anything, the Monkey King started to look for adventure and mischief. Buddha was not pleased with this abuse of power and decided to seal the Monkey King inside a mountain for eternity. The Monkey King quickly realized the error of his ways! Fortunately, a monk named Thang Seng believed in the Monkey King's redemption and asked Buddha to release him. The Monkey King proved to be a loyal comrade to Thang Seng. Like many holiday legends, this heartfelt story sends and important message of hope."

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In Norway, the Merry Mischief is told by Sigrid, who tells guests of the mischievous Christmas gnome, Julenissen.

"Christmas is a festive time in the "Land of the Midnight Sun."

On Christmas Eve, farm animals are traditionally treated to the finest oats and barely. Birds are remembered during julenek, when they are offered large sheaves of grain placed high on spruce poles. After darkness it's "lights out" as homes are illuminated by only the warm glow of candlelight.

An elf-like gnome named Julenissen lives in woods and barns across the countryside. Julenissen is the guardian of every family's welfare, so children leave a steaming bowl of porridge in the hayloft during the holidy period to thank Julenissen.

On Christmas Day, many attend church before spending time quietly at home with family members. On Second Christmas Day, children celebrate julbukke by dressing up in costumes and going door-to-door for goodies.


The final stop on the Holidays Around the World tour is Mexico, where Los Tres Reyes Magos (the Three Magical Kings) tell their journey to the Posada and the traditions of a Mexican Christmas today.080

"Beautiful candlelight processions, happy sounds of children laughing, and sweet smells of the season make Christmas in Mexico a magical, meaningful time of community.

In Mexico, Christmas is called La Navidad and its main celebration is Las Posadas, which means "inn". During Las Posadas, Mexican families recreate the journey of Mary and Joseph seeking shelter in Bethlehem. For nine nights, beginning December 16, Mexican children dress up like the holy family and visit their neighbors as part of a candlelight procession. Beautifully carved nacimientos (nativity scenes) are displayed in homes. Prayers and festivities begin when the procession of Mary and Joseph is welcomed in.

On January 6, the day the Three Kings arrived in Bethlehem, bringing gifts to baby Jesus, Mexican chilfren leave their shoes on the doorsteps in a special celebration called Dia De Los Tres Reyes (Three Kings Day). When the children awaken the next morning, they are delighted to discover wonderful toys and gifts in and around their shoes."

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As we have finished our walk around journey of the Holidays Around the World, lets take a look at a few of the Holidays Around the World pins released within the past couple years.

This HAtW pin features Goofy as Pere Noel (from France) with Donald’s Nephews10903586

This pin features Donald, Goofy and Mickey as several of the storytellers from around the world.10904531 10904532 10905426 10906118

Mickey and friends are pictured as characters from around the world, Goofy as Pere Noel, Minnie as La Befunna, Mickey as Julenissen, and Donald as Taarji. 10906562 10958516

This year’s pin (2009) continues in the tradition of the Disney characters as the story tellers of the world on this spinner pin. 10958553

Pictures and Information from PinPics, Disney Pins, All Ears Net

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