Christmas from Japan to Papua New Guinea

headshot-jayna-breighBy Jayna Breigh

Long before my husband (let’s call him Bill) and I ever met, Bill seriously considered being a missionary aviator. To prepare for his possible life as a missionary he learned to fly by taking private flying lessons at a little municipal airport. He also spent a year in Japan teaching English through his denomination.

Bill spent one Christmas in Japan while on this mission and remembers it well. Christmas was not a “legal” holiday there like it is here. Banks didn’t close and children had to go to school. I asked Bill if there were decorations and gift exchanges. He said there were secular decorations—Santas and reindeer, but no gifts. As he put it, there were the trappings of Christmas without the Christianity.



Bill did have a very moving remembrance of his one Christmas in Japan. He was working at a Church in Wakayama City (the capital of the Prefecture of Wakayama–yes it has the same name twice like New York, New York). Wakayama City is a seaside city in Southern Japan, about an hour’s train ride from Osaka. On top of the church was a large illuminated cross visible to boats and ships in the Pacific Ocean. A Pakistani Christian sailor saw the cross from his ship in the harbor and joined the congregation of Bill’s church for their Christmas Eve service.

It did not work out for Bill to be a missionary aviator. One of the requirements to fly (at least at that time) was that the pilot had to be married, which Bill was not. The concern of the mission’s agency was that the isolation and depravations of mission life would prove to be too severe a temptation to a single man. Flash forward to today.  Bill ultimately became a commercial airline pilot. And our family now supports a missionary aviation family in Papua, New Guinea. The husband transports medical supplies, translators, Bibles, and other goods. He also flies medical personnel into remote areas and flies sick people out. His wife homeschools their four children. If I had met my husband years earlier, this could have been my life. And just like the missionaries we support, we would have spent Christmas in a remote village, far away from friends and family, far from modern conveniences, far from American commercialism, and surrounded by traditions that are so foreign to the way we were raised.


Papua, New Guinea

I took the time to look back through four years of newsletters to see how our missionaries celebrated Christmas in Papua, New Guinea. Since it is in the Southern Hemisphere, it is summertime when Christmas is celebrated. The photographs in the Christmas newsletters of our Papua, New Guinea missionaries show green grass and lush vegetation in the middle of what is our winter here.

In the states, even if someone lives in a seasonally warm state like Arizona, Christmas is still marked with scenes of Winter, songs about snow and the Charlie Brown Christmas Special. And whether one is religious or not, the basis for the celebration of Christmas — the birth of Jesus Christ — is understood. In Papua, New Guinea, it is different. There are more than 850 languages in Papua, New Guinea, the most in the world. Yet, the Bible remains untranslated in approximately 300 of them. That means in these places there isn’t even a written Christmas Story for the people to read if they wanted to.

And this is part of Christmas around the world.

Writing Prompt: He pushed send on the application for the Missionary aviation position. He’d put a name on the application in the space marked “wife.” But, he hadn’t actually given her the ring that was currently in his pocket. In fact, he hadn’t introduced himself to her yet…



headshot-jayna-breighJayna is a wife, home educator, and an attorney who practiced in Beverly Hills and Los Angeles for more than a decade.  Currently she resides in the Southeast with her husband and two children.  Jayna enjoys online word tile games and British period dramas.

Jayna has spoken at women’s retreats, led women’s Bible studies, and has taught and facilitated women’s and parenting seminars on topics ranging from sharing the faith, life skills management, and mother daughter relationships. She is also a member of the ACFW.

Her current work in progress is a Finalist in the Inspirational category of the First Coast Romance Writers 2016, Beacon Contest, and took Second Place in the Central Ohio Fiction Writers 2016, Ignite the Flame Contest. You can connect with Jayna at and on Facebook at

Christmas Around the World-MEXICO

By Robin E. Mason




I don’t know about you but I tend to associate the piñata with birthdays. Although, it is rather the epitome of Mexican celebration, to this non-Mexican anyway. It shouldn’t come as a surprise then, that the piñata is very much a part of traditional Christmas in Mexico. “From December 16 to 24 there are a series of processions and parties called  Las Posadas  (from the word for inn) , for many children the most anticipated part of the Christmas season. The tradition was begun by Spanish evangelists to teach the Christmas story to the indigenous people.” [source: Wikipedia]


Of course, Nativity scenes are universal displays of, well, the birth of Christ. In Mexico, they are “generally set up by December 12 and left on display at least until February 2 and found in homes, businesses and churches. They were introduced in the early colonial period with the first Mexican monks teaching the indigenous people to carve the figures. The basic set up is similar to those in other parts of the world, with a focus on the Holy Family.” [source: Wikipedia]


In Oaxaca, Joseph and Mary are dressed in traditional Oaxacan costume.


I am fascinated by this image of Niño Dios, the Child Jesus, dressed in Tzotzil costume, but can’t find information about the tradition—except in Spanish. (and my Spanish isn’t strong enough, nor is my brain on point enough, to glean the meaning.)


The Nativity aside, what could be more iconic to Christmas than the Christmas tree. (forgive, I am not making the case pro or con, just sharing what is standard, and part of traditional Mexican celebration.)


This treat the Universum Museum en Mexico City is decorated with polyhedrons.

Not only is the poinsettia another Christmas icon, but it is native to Mexico. One “modern Mexican legend says that the pointsettia was once a weed that miraculously turned into a beautiful flower so that a child could present it to the infant Jesus.” [source: Wikipedia]


A significant part of the extended Christmas holiday, is “Epiphany, called Día de lost Tres Reyes Magos (Three Kings’ Day). This day celebrates whtn the Three Wise Men arrived to visit the Child Jesus (Niño Dios) bearing gifts. On the night of January 5, children traditionally leave a shoe by the doorway where the Wise Men will enter, although this is not done in all parts of Mexico. … In the morning after opening the presents, a round sweet bread called a rosca is served.


Like in any part of the world, there is so much more, different traditions in various regions, and like pretty much any post I write it could very easily turn into a much longer article. I leave you with one final pretty decoration.


And one final thought…


This is a bittersweet post for me to write; it is my last post as a regular contributor here at Writing Prompts Crew. I have valued the time spent here, and cherish the friendships I have made. As my own blog and writing career have grown, I must, sadly, pare back other commitments.

Fear not, though, I’ll hover around, and make my usual snarky commentary, and the occasional post as a guest. I thank all the crew and every follower for coming into my life. You have enriched me in ways words cannot express.

And so, in my beloved Irish, I bid you…


… a fond farewell, not good-bye, but see you soon.  And because my new series  is a family entrenched in French ancestry,

joyeux Noel


bonne année!

 WRITING PROMPT—Tío Miguel and Tía Maria are visiting from Mexico for the holidays. We haven’t seen them since we were little. We are teaching them American traditions, and they are sharing their Mexican ones. All is going beautifully, til Tío Miguel discovers the eggnog—and somebody has spiked it. As he hangs the luminaries in place of the piñatas, somebody outside starts hollering.


Writing Prompts & Thoughts & Ideas, Christmas Around the World, Christmas in Mexico, Luminaries, Piñatas, Nacimiento, Poinsettia, FELIZ NAVIDAD, and Slán