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City with holiday lights

The Holiday Season Goes Global

In keeping with the Cali Bamboo spirit of giving back to the planet and acting with the environment in mind, this month’s GreenShoots takes a look at the holiday season on a global scale. Read on to discover the vast variety of wintertime traditions celebrated around the world, and then check out ways you can make your holiday a little more Earth-friendly.

Have a wonderful holiday season, and a very happy New Year!

A Transcontinental Celebration

Many Venezuelans celebrate the holiday by attending an early morning Christmas mass on roller-skates! On the way to church, skaters tug at strings hanging outside of home windows which are attached to the toes of sleeping children within.

In Denmark, it is believed that a mischievous holiday elf named Nisse visits the towns and farms to play tricks on the villagers. He and his trailing elves, the Julenisse, must be appeased with rice pudding left outdoors.

Hanukkah festivities in Israel commemorate the eight nights that a small amount of oil kept the Temple lit during a great battle. Israelis celebrate this event by eating foods cooked in oil, such as sufganiya, a kind of jelly donut.

In China, mass celebrations are held to commemorate their most important traditional holiday, the Chinese New Year. In the days before the festivities begin homes are given a rigorous cleaning in order to sweep away the bad luck of the preceding year and prepare for new luck to fill the house. On the 15th day of the New Year children go out at night with lanterns, some of which have riddles on them for other children to solve.

France boasts not one but two Santas: a Pere Noel (Father Christmas), who brings gifts to children who have been good, and a Pere Fouettard (Father Spanker), who travels from house to house, giving the bad children spankings!

In hot, sunny South Africa families celebrate Christmas by wearing paper hats and holding braais (barbeques).

In New Zealand, children awake on Christmas morning to the sound of fire engine sirens. They then run outside to see Santa riding on the truck and throwing down candy. Because Christmas here takes place in the warm summer season, a traditional holiday meal is postponed until July.

5 Ways to Stay Green for the Holidays:

1. Opt for LED lights which are 90% more efficient than traditional lights. They also last up to 200,000 hours without omitting much heat. If all normal holiday lights were swapped for LEDs, we’d save at least two billion kilowatt-hours of electricity a month. That could power 200,000 homes for a full year!

2. If you’re buying a Christmas tree, it’s better to go for the real thing. The vast majority of Christmas trees are grown on tree farms, so true forests are left undamaged. Artificial trees will last about 9 years, but are eventually thrown out and take centuries to decompose in landfills.

3. Recycle your Christmas tree. Old trees can be ground into mulch for gardens, playgrounds, and even used to prevent shore erosion.

4. Go easy on the wrapping paper, and always recycle old paper instead of tossing it in the garbage. You can also reuse old gift bags and use the comics as tissue paper.

5. Save up to 30% on your energy bill by sealing air leaks near doors and windows and by keeping your home well insulated.

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