Christmas Traditions around the World: How It Goes in Different Countries
Christmas is celebrated in many countries around the world. It is considered a family holiday all over the world, but each country has its traditions of celebrating it. Today, we want to tell you about the brightest Christmas Eve traditions around the world, in case you decide to celebrate this holiday in another country.
Is Christmas Celebrated All over the World?
Christmas is celebrated in 160 countries around the world, and celebrations vary from country to country. Some countries celebrate on Christmas Day, or December 25th, while others celebrate the day before or on the next one. Even though dozens of countries celebrate this holiday on the same day, the international Christmas traditions in them are radically different.
Unique Christmas Traditions around the World
Every year on Saturday before Christmas Eve, a rather unusual Christmas event is held in the Philippines, namely the Giant Lantern Festival. Guests from all over the world come to see this spectacle. There are 11 barangays taking part in the festival, and the competition is quite intense as everyone tries to build the most difficult lantern. It is interesting that before the lanterns were simple creations from Japanese origami paper and reached a diameter of no more than half a meter. Today, there are no restrictions on creativity, and the lanterns are made from a variety of materials, and the size of some can even reach 6 meters. Most of them are equipped with electric bulbs that sparkle with a stunning kaleidoscope of patterns.
It’s no secret that just before Christmas all sorts of evil spirits begin to rage, which is quite enough in Norway – remember at least the famous forest trolls! Legends say that all these monsters on Christmas Eve descend from high mountains to take possession of the souls of mere mortals. No wonder the weird Christmas traditions of this country are considered one of the most exciting and unusual around the world.
What are the Norwegians doing, who do not want to be trapped by witches and sorcerers? Everything is quite simple! The locals consider the best protection from evil spirits is… the absence of brooms. Therefore, on Christmas Eve, you would not be able to find a single broom in this country! Amazing, isn’t it? By the way, it is worth noting that the method remains effective because in Norway not a single witch attack on a person has been officially recorded!
Residents of Latin America, Venezuelans, for example, are also, for the most part, Catholics. Like other nations, they congratulate loved ones on Christmas, prepare food and attend church masses. But Venezuelans go to church… on roller skates! Since there is no snow and ice in Venezuela, there is no way to go on real skates, so the locals came up with such an original way.
Mexico is another country where the Christmas traditions are slightly different from the rest of the countries. On Christmas Eve, all family members gather in one house. The women serve tamales (a tortilla of cornmeal), atole (a drink made from maize grains), cod, and turkey. Hot fruit punch called ponche is also common. Traditional Christmas dishes in Mexico are stuffed turkey and bunuelos. After a while, the adults sit down at the table, and the kids begin to sort out the gifts. Most often, children are given a piñata. It is a large Mexican papier-mâché toy that resembles an animal, a star, or an ordinary geometric figure. Inside the gift, there is a surprise in the form of sweets, gingerbread, or crackers. The child is blindfolded and blindly strikes a piñata suspended from the ceiling with a bat. This toy symbolizes sins, from which it is possible to get rid of only by breaking them. This is rightfully one of the most unusual Christmas cultures around the world, and we recommend that you see it for yourself!
The Christmas season in Australia starts well before Christmas and lasts over a month. In Adelaide, the capital of South Australia, the official opening of the season is the Christmas Parade, which takes place in mid-November when Santa enters the city. This is a very popular and solemn phenomenon in Australia, which has become a good tradition and one of the attractions of this city.
Seventy moving themed fairy-tale platforms and twenty brass bands, accompanied by hundreds of pirates, clowns, wooden soldiers, and many other fairy-tale characters, take part in the festive procession crossing the center of the capital. Tens of thousands of Australians and numerous tourists come to see this colorful procession. And, despite the length of the parade, and the sultry November sun, the holiday atmosphere spreads throughout the city, filling every corner with it.
Speaking about how Christmas is celebrated in different countries, it is worth talking about the Czech Republic separately. Christmas holidays, celebrated now in the Czech Republic, sparkle with a fabulous mood, faith in miracles, and the fulfillment of desires. In the Czech Republic, as in many other European countries, Christmas is celebrated according to the Catholic tradition. Each nation has its unique customs, signs, as well as superstitions associated with this period. In the Czech Republic, they are very diverse and interesting. It was customary to observe a fast on Christmas Eve. Some parents promised their children that if they fast and behave well, they would be able to see the golden pig in the evening, but if they gluttony from morning to evening, the monster would come to them and dispose of their overflowing bellies.
Some of the most unusual Christmas holiday traditions around the world take place here, and we recommend that you see them for yourself! The symbol of Swedish Christmas is the goat, which is made from straw every year. The tradition has its origins in Scandinavian mythology. The first Christmas goat was installed in 1966. Interestingly, this symbol has many opponents, who every year try to destroy it in all possible ways – to burn, break, or simply steal. It is known that out of 45 goats installed in Gävle, 28 were vandalized. It is considered that about half of the inhabitants of Sweden hate this sculpture, dreaming of breaking it. The other half are proud of this unique symbol of Christmas.
Speaking about worldwide countries with unique Christmas traditions, we could not help but mention Iceland. Children living in Iceland can be envied by those who live in any other country. After all, only in Iceland, it is customary to give at Christmas not one gift, but as many as twelve. Starting from December 12, every new day brings new gifts to babies.
Abandoning television on holidays can also be considered an amazing tradition. The government decided that the TV would only prevent family and friends from communicating on Christmas because it is not a guest or a host. So nothing prevents Icelanders from enjoying fellowship during the holy time of the year. The holidays end with active outdoor recreation with the family. What can energize you better than snow and fresh air in a fabulously beautiful forest?
Interesting Facts about Christmas around the World
As you can see, different types of Christmas celebrations take place in different countries. We invite you to familiarize yourself with some interesting facts about some nice customs in different countries.
- In England, before sitting down at the table, it is customary to blow up the Christmas cracker – a cracker, which always contains a humorous message and a small souvenir. Another important tradition is the Queen’s Christmas message, which all Britons watch on TV at three o’clock in the afternoon.
- Speaking of unusual Christmas celebrations in different countries, one cannot fail to mention Austria, where, on Christmas Day, young people dress up as a fantastic creature named Krampus – a monster with bells, rods, and goat’s horns. Together with St. Nicholas, who gives obedient children sweets and gifts, Krampus walks the streets and jokingly tries to shove naughty boys and girls into a bag to take them into his cave.
- In Germany, one of the main souvenirs that can be found at every holiday fair is the Nutcracker, which became popular here long before the appearance of Hoffmann’s fairy tale.
- In France, before going to bed, children leave their shoes by the fireplace so that Père Noël (an analog of Saint Nicholas) can fill them with gifts.
- In Croatia, boots for gifts from St. Nicholas are placed on the windowsill. And on Christmas evening, festive lanterns are launched into the sky.
- On Christmas Eve, the Spaniards dress in folk costumes and take to the streets, have fun, dance, and sing songs. Just before the beginning of the Christmas Liturgy in the church, people gather at the central entrance to the temple, hold hands, and dance.
Christmas is an amazing holiday that everyone around the world loves. Despite the different traditions, climate, and religion, each person finds something magical at Christmas, trying to spend this day with their family.
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