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The end of the year holiday season is a popular time and at Walt Disney World Resort’s Epcot you can celebrate and enjoy holiday traditions from around the world.
From the last weekend in November through December 30th guests are transported to a proverbial winter wonderland.
Cultural characters from around the globe are there to tell stories and spread messages of hope and goodwill.
Daily performances will allow you to travel across four continents and experience over a dozen different holiday traditions in a matter of hours.
You can start your day off in China with the colorful Chinese Lion Dance that is said to bring good fortune and happiness to all during the Lunar New Year and Lantern Festival.
Then join Father Christmas, as he rings in the season, with traditions of the United Kingdom and good cheer.
After a stop for lunch you should stop over for a show like Discover the traditions of Hanukkah, the story of the brave Maccabees and the miraculous story of the burning oil lamp.
Round out the afternoon with a bit of Norwegian folklore with Sigrid and Julenissen, the mischievous Christmas gnome.
There are a number of other festive combinations that you can choose from when creating your agenda.
Each show has multiple performances throughout the day.
In the United States of America there are meet and greets with Mr. and Mrs. Claus.
You can also enjoy Hanukkah traditions and get a better understanding of Kwanzaa.
If that isn't enough, a band of joyous revelers -the Voices of Liberty Dickens Carolers- will treat you to their unique version of classic carols.
Over in Canada there have been updates to the performance in recent years.
You will spend time with the Canadian Holiday Voyageurs as they take you on a musical tour through the customs of the country.
Before you leave this area you must stop by the popcorn cart for some Pecan Maple Bark.
Celebrations in China are quite the sight.
The vibrant costumes of the Chinese Lion Dance, known to bring good fortune and happiness to all during celebrations like the Lunar New Year and Lantern Festival, will bring you a bit of holiday bliss.
After the six-minute act the Lion will pose for photos.
When in France it is Père Noël who reads the Christmas letters of little boys and girls.
At this performance he reads the letter of a little girl and notes a number of French traditions, including leaving your shoes out and filling your shoes with carrots and snacks for Gui (Père Noël's donkey).
Find out what this little girl receives in return on Christmas Day.
Helga is a storyteller from Germany that will share a few tales with the audience.
Her story details the first Christmas tree and a personal story of her first Nutcracker.
A few traditional German delights are offered including holiday cookies, Glyhwein (hot spiced wine) and Stollen (a holiday fruitcake).
The tradition in Italy involves a witch who seems to work seamlessly with the holiday.
La Befana is a kind-hearted witch who shares her first Christmas story.
Unlike her popular male counterpart, La Befana arrives on the eve of the Epiphany (January 5) to fill the shoes of good children with gifts and bad children with coal.
A doll merchant from Japan tells the captivating story of the Daruma doll and the Japanese customs surrounding the New Year.
The doll is a good luck symbol that is received with eyes without pupils.
Over the course of the year the doll will have a pair of pupils by the end of year if you have made a wish that comes true.
Families and friends also get together and celebrate from January 1st-3rd.
A visual treat here is Kadomatsu, which is a holiday decoration that is placed in pairs at the entrance of homes and symbolizes hope for the New Year.
Holiday customs in Mexico span almost three weeks.
While at the performance you will be welcomed by mariachis and dancers that liven the crowd with festive music and dance.
Look out for Los Tres Reyes who will tell the story of Las Posadas, a nine evening event that takes you on the journey of Mary and Joseph as they travel to Bethlehem.
Shortly after the New Year is when Los Tres Reyes are celebrated for their arrival at Jesus' birth.
Ramadan is the largest holiday in Morocco.
The 13-minute show shares traditions surrounding the Olive Festival, Date Festival and the holiest month on the calendar.
There is a chance for members of the audience to participate in this interactive show.
Before leaving Morocco grab a cup of hot mint tea, it's very refreshing.
Julenissen is a popular little guy in Norway.
Sigrid will share tales of the Christmas Gnome and other Norwegian holiday traditions.
The tales speak of children thanking the gnome for keeping their families safe with a special bowl of porridge.
Keep your eyes peeled, Julenissen is a playful character that is known to pop up and interrupt Sigrid.
Children from the United States of America may be a bit envious of the three day Christmas celebration that Norwegian children enjoy.
Father Christmas tells Christmas traditions in the United Kingdom.
He will tell you stories dating back to the 15th-century.
Traditions in the United States are reminiscent of the red Poinsettias and patterned bows found in the UK.
Here Father Christmas welcomes children with his long white beard, green robe and crown of holly.
The stage, adorned with a ornament filled Christmas Tree and wrapped gifts, serves as a lovely background for family photos.
Guests are welcome to join the street performers as they carol.
Parents should stop by the beer cart for a Hot Applejack Cider.
As night begins to fall there are a couple of unique events that bring together guests for around a common goal.
The first of the evening only events is the Candlelight Processional at the America Gardens Theatre.
You get the chance to hear the stirring story of Christmas as told by a celebrity narrator, accompanied by a 50-piece orchestra and mass choir.
Whoopi Goldberg, Neil Patrick Harris and Trace Adkins are some of the celebrities that have taken the stage to narrate the story of baby Jesus.
Each evening ends with the Reflections of Earth with Peace on Earth finale.
The nighttime firework spectacular takes place over the World Showcase Lagoon adds four minutes onto the regular show to celebrate the holiday season.
The holiday version of the show has been an Epcot tradition for over a decade. Walter Cronkite narrates the finale.
By Marie Ospina
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