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New Winter Traditions at Christmas Town

November 21, 2019
Learn about winter traditions from South Africa, Mexico, Japan, Israel, and India.

Our guests know that when they visit Busch Gardens Williamsburg they can expect an immersive international experience. From England to Italy, Ireland to Germany, our villages bring far off countries right to the shores of Virginia with charming décor, shows and culinary experiences.

For our Christmas Town event this year, we decided to expand our horizons even more with our all-new Traditions Tree Maze—located next to Festhaus—presented by Coca-Cola. As you make your way through the twists and turns of our festively decorated labyrinth—formed by 500 freshly-cut pine trees—you’ll discover different crafting stations that each represent a country not usually found in the park. You will have the opportunity to make your very own keepsakes using international decorative elements.

So which countries will be making their Busch Gardens debut? We’re so glad you asked! Read on to learn more about the five new countries joining Christmas Town and their winter traditions.


Día de los Reyes – Feast of the Three Kings

This day, also known as Epiphany, is celebrated on January 6 to honor the three wise men who gave gifts to Jesus Christ at his birth. It also represents the end of Christmas festivities, with Mexicans all over the country exchanging gifts. Children put a list of desired treats and toys in their worn shoes before going to bed for the three kings to find. In the morning their shoes are filled with what they wished for.

Traditions Tree Maze craft: Guests will be able to decorate a crown to signify the crowns of the three kings who visited the newborn Jesus


Shogatsu 新年 – Japanese New Year

New Year is the most important holiday to the Japanese. The start of a new year is considered a fresh start, and the people of Japan host bonenkai (year-end) parties beforehand to leave the problems and worries of last year behind in preparation. A happy New Year’s Day is believed to portend a year full of good fortune, so the Japanese take care to celebrate and let go of stress and anger.

Traditions Tree Maze craft: To celebrate the new year, many Japanese have a custom of sending New Year’s Day postcards, called nengajo, to their friends and relatives.  This is similar to the Western custom of sending Christmas cards.  The postcards are mailed so that they arrive on January 1.  In order to help ensure the postcards arrive on time, the post office will hire additional part-time staffing to assist in delivery!  The postcards often have the symbol of the Chinese zodiac sign of the New Year as the design, though more contemporary manufacturers have incorporated famous cartoon characters or artist renderings into the postcard.  Celebrate the coming of 2020, The Year of The Rat, by decorating your own postcard for New Years!


Diwali दिवाली – Festival of Lights

Diwali is one of the most popular festivals in Hinduism. They celebrate light as a symbol of knowledge and goodness, covering buildings in bright lights to celebrate these two things for the four- to five-day festival. For the duration of the festival people in India dress in their finest clothes, light fireworks and enjoy feasts with their families.

Traditions Tree Maze craft: Rangoli is an art form represented by simple geometric shapes, flower petals, or highly elaborate designs.  A rangoli is most often created on the floor out side of the home, using materials such as colored rice, flour, colored sand, or flower petals.  In many families, designs are passed on from one generation to the next.  The rangoli can be created by an individual or by a group, and is thought to bring good luck.  This form of art is most commonly featured during festivals and celebrations, such as Diwali.  Color your own rangoli to welcome good luck into the new year!.


Hanukkah חנוכה – Festival of Lights

Hanukkah is an eight-night celebration in remembrance of a successful revolt of the Jews against their oppressors in the second century BCE. Jews all over the world celebrate by lighting the nine-candle menorah over the course of the eight nights, playing dreidel, eating oil-based foods such as latkes and exchanging gifts.

Traditions Tree Maze craft: Dreidel is a popular game played by Jewish children during the festival of Hanukkah. Come to the Israel station to make beautiful dreidels you can play with.

South Africa

Umkhosi Wokweshwama – First Fruits Festival

Umkhosi Wokweshwama is an annual harvest festival celebrated by the Zulu people. It is shrouded in mystery because many of the rituals and ceremonies are only open to the Zulu people and have never been observed by outsiders. The Zulu King leads a tasting ceremony before declaring that everyone can enjoy the fruits of the harvest. The military and the Royal family gather to burn impepho (incense) and perform the burning of the bones ritual. It is a time of cleansing and renewal.

Traditions Tree Maze craft: Masks hold special significance to the Zulu people. Depending on the type of mask, they can be tools of warfare, they can scare away evil spirits, and much more. Bedeck your own guardian mask to keep away the evil spirits for a cheery Christmas season.

Don't miss the all-new Traditions Tree Maze at Christmas Town!