Nobody celebrates the holidays quite like the Walt Disney World Resort. While the magic is there every single day of the year, it is taken to a whole different level during the holiday season with elaborate decorations and celebrated traditions.
A long-running holiday tradition in Epcot is Holidays Around the World featuring tales and time-honored traditions of the nations around the World Showcase. Experience a world of cheer as holiday lore from all over the globe comes to life and Holiday Storytellers highlight their cultures, holiday traditions and tales of their heritage.
The holiday celebration begins the day after Thanksgiving November 25, 2016, and continues through December 30th. As you tour around the World Showcase, this is what you can expect from the Holiday Storytellers:
Enjoy the Fiesta de Navidad as brightly colored dancers and the Mariachi Cobre Band bring to life the music, dancing, and traditions of a holiday fiesta. Pepita, a poor Mexican girl who doesn’t have a gift to bring to the Christmas Eve Service, remembers that the greatest gift to give is a gift of love. When Pepita gathers weeds from the side of the road and places them on the altar, they magically bloom into beautiful red poinsettias. It’s a Christmas Miracle and the poinsettias become known as Flores de Noche Buena or Flowers of the Holy Night.
God Jul – Join Sigrid as she tells the story of a three-day Christmas celebration on the farms of the Norwegian countryside and the role Julenissen, a mischievous Christmas Gnome plays in their holiday traditions. Julenissen is believed to live in the haylofts of the barn as the guardian of the family. On Christmas Eve, the farmers give their animals an extra helping of the finest oats and barley and the children leave Julenissen a big bowl of warm porridge to keep him warm on a cold winter’s night. Sigrid believes the Christmas gnome to only be a legend, but with the help of the audience and the magic of Julenissen, she learns that he does exist and promises to uphold the values of Christmas.
Enjoy the colorful Chinese Lion Dance, a cultural tradition that dates back over 2,000 years performed during Lunar New Year celebrations and the Lantern Festival. The lion represents courage, stability, and triumph as well as aspirations of the Chinese people. Revel as the lion comes to life driving away evil spirits and negativity and bringing good luck, good fortune and happiness to the community.
Join Helga as she tells how most holiday traditions around the world originated in her homeland of Germany – American traditions such as the Christmas tree and the Advent Calendar. Listen as Helga tells the story of Clara and the Nutcracker that takes her to the land of sweets in her dreams. Helga, much like Clara, shares her childhood memory of dreaming her very own Nutcracker would come to life. With a little Christmas magic, Helga’s dream comes true!
Buon Natale! Here is where guests meet Italy’s friendly witch, La Befana, which means “gift giver” in Italian. Le Befana tells the story of the first Christmas over 2,000 years ago when three men following a star towards Bethlehem journeyed past her home inviting her to join them. Regretting her decision not to travel to Bethlehem to meet the Christ child, she flies all over the world on her broom on the eve of the Epiphany granting gifts to every child, in case they are the Christ child.
Amongst a towering Christmas tree and twinkling lights, guests of all ages can meet Santa and Mrs. Claus in the American Adventure Pavilion. The Voices of Liberty Dickens Carolers, an acapella group, treat guests to a captivating performance of holiday classics inside the rotunda – a Christmas delight not to be missed. Also in the American Adventure Pavilion, guests are enlightened by the traditions of Hanukkah as well as the extraordinary lamp and the eight days of light. Guests can also capture the spirit of Kwanzaa, a celebration of Family, Community, and Culture.
Meet a Daruma Doll seller who tells the story of the Daruma doll and the customs of the Japanese New Year. The Daruma (or Dharma) doll, modeled after Bodhidharma, a Buddhist monk, is regarded as a symbol of perseverance and good luck. Traditionally, on New Year’s Eve, the recipient would paint a pupil in the Daruma’s left eye and make a wish. If the wish comes true, the second pupil is painted in. If not, the recipient should try the following year again.
Meet Farah who tells the story of how the many festivals celebrated in Morocco are the “spice of life.” From the Olive Festival to the Rose Festival and even the Almond Festival, festivals in Morocco are celebrated as a way to pass down traditions from generation to generation. Morocco, a primarily Muslim nation, celebrates Ramadan as their holiest holiday, to commemorate when Allah, revealed the Holy Book, the Quran. On the 9th day of the Islamic calendar and after the crescent moon, the Moroccan people fast during the day for 30 days, reflecting on a life of purity. At the end of their 30-day fast, they celebrate with family, music, dancing and a grand feast.
Joyeux Noel! Discover the magic of Père Noël and the joy of the holiday season through a Christmas letter from a young child, Babette, who lives with her uncle and brother in the French countryside. In France, the crèche and Nativity scene are considered to be the most important symbols of Christmas. After families attend Midnight Mass, they return home where they enjoy, Le Réveillon de Noël, the Christmas Eve feast which is traditionally concluded with bûche de Noël, a chocolate rolled cake resembling a Yule Log. Before bed, children set out their shoes around the Christmas tree for Père Noël to fill them with all sorts of goodies.
In the Pavilion gardens, guests will find Father Christmas, a jolly character cloaked in a long green robe with a crown of holly and a long white beard, resembling The Ghost of Christmas Present from the Dicken’s classic, “A Christmas Carol.” Delight in the story of how many holiday traditions in America, such as Christmas cards and the hanging of Mistletoe began in the United Kingdom and how, similar to Santa Claus, this treasured gift-giver brings holiday joy to all the good boys and girls.
Join the Canadian Holiday Voyageurs on a musical journey through Canada as they perform on the Mill Stage and share many Canadian Christmas traditions from different regions of the Great White North. While the other countries have a particular story to share, Canada tells it’s story through powerful renditions of traditional Christmas carols, evoking the holiday spirit around the World Showcase.