New Winter Traditions at Christmas TownOctober 23, 2019
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: Hanetsuki, a badminton-type game, is typically played during the New Year's celebrations in Japan using paddles and a shuttlecock. At Busch Gardens, guests will have the opportunity to adorn their own paddles, or hagoita.
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: In Indian culture mandalas are geometric symbols meant to promote spirituality and aid meditation. Guests can color mandalas of their own.
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.
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.