Holidays Around the World –Epcot Storytellers Shine Light on Holiday Traditions
November 29 through December 30. (This traditionally starts the day after Thanksgiving and runs through December 30 each year.) This is a delightful addition to Epcot and enjoyed by guests of all ages. You will see more holiday decorations throughout Epcot near the middle of this time period as opposed to the start of it. As you would expect, there are no Christmas decorations in countries that do not have a Christian heritage, such as Morocco, China, and Japan. The store in Japan does have a Christmas tree in their window decorated with plushies that they sell inside. It is interesting to hear their holiday traditions that are celebrated around the same time as our holidays.
Canada-The Canadian Holiday Voyageurs take over the Mill Stage, show times are 12:40, 1:40, 2:40, 3:40, 4:40, and 6:00PM, this is a fast-paced musical tour of Canadian Christmas traditions. The Christmas decorations in Canada have red plaid bows, white snow-covered pines, acorns, berries, pinecones, white trees and red, white, and gold ornaments. There is a special Holiday Treat at the Canada popcorn cart: Pecan Maple Bark.
United Kingdom: Father Christmas is located at the back of the pavilion gardens, appearances at 2:45, 3:45, 4:30, 5:30, 6:10, 6:45, 7:30, and 8:30PM, he is a jolly Father Christmas that speaks especially to the children about the Christmas traditions in the United Kingdom. The Christmas decorations are included in the formal plantings in the form of red Poinsettias, pine boughs over the doorways of patterned bows, holly leaves and berries, Poinsettia blossoms, and red, green, and blue glass balls. You will find a vast array of stocking stuffer treats in the shops here! Many Christmas Carols were first sung in the United Kingdom. Christmas cards and the hanging of mistletoe are both traditions begun in the United Kingdom. Here Father Christmas is known for his long white beard, green robe, and a crown of holly, and of course for bringing good gifts to those on the nice list. The stage here has a decorated Christmas Tree and wrapped gifts that make a nice photo background for families. The street performers add guests to their rendition of a Christmas Carol. There is a special Holiday Treat at the UK beer cart: Hot Applejack Cider (alcoholic).
France: Pere Noel appearances at: 11:20, 11:55AM, 12:30, 1:15, 2:05, 3:30, 4:20 and 5:05PM, he reminds us of how magical Christmas is in the heart of a child. In France the shops are full of toys, gifts, lights, and decorations. Homes and churches have a crèche (Nativity scene) and the crèche is considered to be the most important symbol of Christmas to the French. Candles are lit around the crèche and sometimes there is a special Yule Log in the fireplace. Families attend church at Midnight for Mass then return home where they enjoy a feast called le reveillon often concluded with a Buche de Noel, a chocolate rolled cake that looks like the Yule Log. Children set out their shoes around the Christmas tree where le Pere Noel will sneak in later and fill them with all sorts of goodies. You may be able to see the Serveur Amusant the comical French Waiters performing nearby. They are really amazing to see! There is a special Holiday Treat at Les Halles Boulangerie & Patisserie Buche de Noel au Chocolat (chocolate Christmas log) and at L’Artisan des Glaces is Gingerbread Ice Cream
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Morocco: Storyteller Taarji, 2:15, 3:00, 4:35, 5:40, 6:20, and 7:35PM, he shares the customs surrounding the Moroccan celebration of Ramadan and Ashura. This show has some audience participation opportunities. Spice Road Table restaurant is not open yet. There are obvious shop doors on one end. It is still scheduled to be open prior to the end of 2013. There is a special Holiday Treat at the Tangierine Café: traditional hot mint tea
Japan: A Japanese doll merchant appears at 12:10, 12:50, 1:35, 2:20, 2:55, 3:45, 4:45, and 5:05PM, she explains the history of the Daruma doll and how the Japanese people celebrated New Years. The celebration is from January 1st to the 3rd. They celebrate with family, friends, food, and fun. The Daruma doll is a symbol of good luck and its eyes have no pupils. The tradition is to make a wish, then paint the pupil in the left eye. If your wish comes true before the end of the year then you paint the pupil on the right eye. It is done to reinforce the idea of patience and persistence. Ringing bells is also a focal point on the Japanese New Year celebration as it is started by a bell being rung at the Buddhist temples across the country. A kadomatsu is a special holiday decoration placed at the entrance of homes. It has plum blossoms symbolizing hope for the New Year as these grow even in cold weather. The pine branches in the kadomatsu represent everlasting strength and the bamboo represents rapid growth. There is a special Holiday Treat at the Kabuki Café: Teriyaki Chicken Karaage (bite size boneless chicken pieces with teriyaki sauce).
The American Adventure: Santa and Mrs. Claus appear at: 1:30, 3:30, 5:30 and 7:30PM
Voices of Liberty Dickens Carolers is an outstanding a cappella group that brings us a great selection of Holiday songs and they appear at 11:15AM, 12:30, 1:15, 2:00, 2:45, 3:30, 4:15PM inside the American Adventure rotunda.
Kwanzaa: 11:15, 11:45AM, 12:30, 1:00, 2:00, 2:30, 3:30 and 4:00PM, a celebration of the family, creativity and community.
Hanukkah: appearances at 11:30, 12:15, 12:45, 1:15, 1:45, 2:45, 3:15, 4:15, 4:45PM, learn about the miraculous account of the lamp that burned for eight days.
There are special Holiday Treats at the Santa’s Village Sugar and Spice Bake Shop: warm Gingerbread men, chocolate chunk cookies, sugar cookies, hot chocolate, apple cider, peppermint bark, sparkling wines, cocoa candy cane (hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps topped with whipped cream)
As we pass by the Candlelight Processional in the American Gardens Theater we can hear the beautiful strains of traditional Christmas Carols and the reading of the Biblical account of the Christmas story being read. If you can make it to any of these performances you won’t be disappointed in this program. This week’s celebrities are Sigourney Weaver, Dennis Haysbert, and James Denton. Did you know that in addition to the celebs, who read the story, there is a grand Walt Disney World Orchestra, The Voices of Liberty, participating Guest Choirs and a Walt Disney World Cast Choir made up of cast members who choose to share their time and musical talent to brighten your Holiday experience at Epcot. If you want to make a great evening of it you can book a meal at certain Epcot restaurants that are offering a Candlelight Processional package that includes a meal, reserved seating for the Candlelight Processional, and a private viewing area for Illuminations. If you would like to sit in the Theater and enjoy the program for free, you will join many others in a standby line to take any seats not reserved by other guests. You can hear the program from areas around the American Adventure pavilion.
Italy: The Storyteller is La Befana appears at 11:55, 12:50, 1:25, 2:00, 2:55, 3:50, 4:45 and 5:55PM, she will tell you about her first Christmas memories, which we are told, are from the first Christmas. La Befana is a good witch who arrives on the eve of the Epiphany to grant gifts to good children. There is a special Holiday Treat at the Buona Festa serving up a large variety of beverages.
Germany: Storyteller Helga and surprise guest appearances are at 1:00, 2:00, 2:55, 3:55, 5:30, 6:05, 6:40, and 7:15PM, Helga takes us back to the first Christmas, and a very special dream she had on Christmas Eve as a child. She shares the traditions of Germany’s Yuletide Season. There is a special Holiday Treat at Sommerfest: Stollen (German holiday fruitcake) and Glyhwein (hot spiced wine enjoyed at the holidays in Germany) and at the Christkindlemarkt enjoy cookies from Werther’s and Werther’s Original Hot Salted Caramel Drink, and Caramel Mocha Iced Coffee Drink.
China: The Monkey King appears at 12:10, 12:45, 1:30, 2:15, 3:20, 4:00, 4:50, and 5:50PM, you will hear about redemption and enlightenment by the very engaging Monkey King. He shares his story of how he became a hero, later only to be enslaved in the mountain by Buddha, but was later rescued and released to do more good as he has learned his lesson about not abusing power. There is a special Holiday Treat at the Joy of Tea: Kaikouxiao (Happy Face Fried Cake).
Norway: Sigrid the storyteller and Julenissen make appearances at 3:10, 3:50, 4:30, 5:10, 5:50, 6:35, 7:15, and 7:55PM’ Learn about a Christmas gnome named Julenissen who lives near families in the countryside of Norway. Julenissen is considered to be the family’s guardian and the children honor him by leaving him a special bowl of porridge in the barn to thank him for watching over them all year. Sigrid tells us that the animals on the farm are also treated to fine oats and barley on Christmas Eve. In Norway Christmas is celebrated for three days. There is a special Holiday Treat at the Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe: Traditional Rice Cream.
Mexico: Los Tres Reyes appearances at 1:45, 2:35, 3:20, 4:05, 5:40, 6:30, and 7:30PM, you will hear about how Mexico celebrates La Navidad (Christmas). One special way is acting out the parts Mary and Joseph played as they traveled to Bethlehem. This celebration is called Las Posadas and in takes place every night for nine evenings, beginning December 16, as children don the costumes and go out into their neighborhoods as a candlelight processional. Celebrations take place when Mary and Joseph are welcomed into the homes. Each home has carefully carved Nativity scenes for visitors to see, to remind them of the original Christmas story. They also celebrate Three Kings Day in early January to correspond with the arrival of the Three Kings in the scriptural account of Jesus’ birth. Children put their shoes out on the doorsteps on the night before Three Kings Day and awake in the morning to their shoes filled with toys and treats. There is a special Holiday Treat at La Cantina de San Angel: Sweet Tamales.
Promenade Refreshments: Season waffles, Hot Holiday teas, Favored Hot Chocolates, Flavored Hot Cinders including one spiked with Frangelico Liqueur.