Christmas Traditions Around the World
All around the world, Christmas celebrations reflect local culture and traditions. Probably the most celebrated holiday in the world, Christmas traditions around the world can be quite different from country to country. Whether you are awaiting Pere Noel in France or celebrating Sheng Dan Jieh in China, Christmas has become a fusion of hundreds of years of traditions that are celebrated around the globe.
Kimmy & Drew of AfterGlobe
Christmas Traditions of United States
Every year to decorate for Christmas in Portland, Oregon we put up lights outside on our house, decorate our live Christmas tree with blown glass ornaments, and hang a wreath, lights, and stockings by the fireplace. On Christmas Eve, we all get a new pair of pajamas. Christmas morning we open our stockings that have been filled with gifts by Santa while enjoying hot chocolate and listening to the Jackson 5 Christmas album. Our day wraps up with an afternoon meal featuring foods made to look like Christmas trees and other seasonal representations that we share with friends and family.
Christmas Traditions of Denmark
Danish children believe that the Juul Nisse elves live in the attics of their homes. Instead of leaving out cookies and glasses of milk for Santa, they leave rice pudding and saucers of milk out for the elves.
Christmas Traditions of India
Everyone decorates their homes with strings of mango leaves. Lights are placed on the window sills and walls with a star hung outside.
Christmas Traditions of Japan
In Japan, they are crazy about Kentucky Fried Chicken for Christmas. They place orders months in advance to avoid waiting in line for hours to make sure they will have their KFC on Christmas Day. The traditional Christmas meal consists of a Christmas chicken with cake and champagne.
Meagan of Life Outside of Texas
Christmas Traditions of South Korea
I moved to Korea almost 3 years ago and learned that Christmas isn’t really celebrated by families here, instead it’s a holiday for couples. One of my favorite things about Christmas in Korea is the Busan Christmas Tree Festival. My girlfriends and I spent Christmas Eve there in 2011. You wouldn’t believe how packed it was! It was the first time it really felt like Christmas. There were tons of lights, a giant tree and even fake snow.
Christmas Traditions of Australia
The most popular event of Australia’s Christmas season is when people come together at night to light candles and sing Christmas carols outside for Carols by Candlelight.
Christmas Traditions of Mexico
Family members cut intricate designs in brown paper bags to make farolitos lanterns. They place a candle inside and then set the farolitos along sidewalks, on windowsills, and on rooftops and outdoor walls to illuminate the community with the spirit of Christmas.
Christmas Traditions of Ethiopia
Everyone dresses in white. Most Ethiopians don a traditional shamma — a thin, white cotton wrap with brightly colored stripes.
Jessica of Suitcases and Sippy Cups
Christmas Traditions of Netherlands
One of the reasons that we travel so extensively with our children is to help them to understand the customs of other places in the world. Learning the traditions of other countries with the backdrop of Christmas is another sneaky way that we can teach them to understand the cultures of other lands. Each year we learn about and celebrate a new country’s Christmas celebration, and sometimes we enjoy the tradition so much that we repeat it year after year. That is how we came to celebrate the Dutch version of St. Nicholas Day. On December 5th, we eat tradition Dutch sweets and play games that involve clues and scavenger hunts to find little gifts around the house. The favorite tradition, though, is leaving shoes outside the bedroom door to be filled with treats while they sleep.
Christmas Traditions of France
The French enjoy an abundant feast of wonderful dishes, ending with the traditional buche de Noel, a rich buttercream-filled cake shaped and frosted to look like a Yule Log.
Christmas Traditions of Germany
Four Sundays before Christmas, German families make an Advent wreath of fir or pine branches that has four colored candles. They light one candle on the wreath each Sunday, sing Christmas songs, and eat Christmas cookies.
Christmas Traditions of China
Paper lanterns are hung outside of homes, while red pagodas are cut from paper and pasted on windows.
Eva of Passports and Pamplemousse
Christmas Traditions of Switzerland
On December 5th, the eve of Samichlaus (Swiss Santa, or St. Nicholas) (December 6th) something truly wonderful happens in the quaint little town of Küssnacht. First a loud boom, and then every single little (and big) light in town goes out. In complete silence, thousands of people anxiously await. And then it starts. In the distance, little lights start to twinkle. As they come closer, you realize the lights are beaming through huge, ornate lanterns (which look like a cross between a Bishop’s hat and a stained glass church window) some of which are 6 feet tall, and carried on the shoulders of hundreds of men. After the light, comes the noise. A brass band with hundreds of marching men in peculiar hooded white robes with red silk scarves carrying gigantic cowbells across the front of their waist, followed by hundreds more men all blowing cow horns. Two short, and one long blow. In unison. Like clockwork.
Somewhere in between the lantern light and noise is Samichlaus with his accomplice, Schmutzli (helper of Father Christmas).
Video provided by Passports and Pamplemousse.
Christmas Traditions of Italy
During the holiday season, Italian Christmas fairs feature fireworks and bonfires along with holiday music for all to enjoy.
Christmas Traditions of England
English children write a letter to Father Christmas with their wishes for the holiday. They toss their letter into the fire so their wishes can go up the chimney to him.
No matter where you are on this planet or how you celebrate the holiday, you are sharing in the wonder and magic of Christmas traditions around the world. We wish you a very Happy Christmas from AfterGlobe.
What unique Christmas traditions do you celebrate in your part of the world?
All photography by Kimmy Hayes © 2013, unless otherwise noted.