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Christmas Around the World

Do you ever wonder how folks celebrate Christmas around the world?

Christmas is, without a doubt, the most celebrated festival of all. Interestingly, its reach is so widespread that, unlike the big festivals of other religions, it is celebrated in almost all countries.

What makes it even more interesting is that different countries can have unique customs and traditions even though they are centered on the main theme of Christmas Eve, the Christmas Tree, Santa Claus, and Christmas gifts and greetings.

Let’s explore how this beautiful and lively occasion is celebrated in unique ways in different countries.

Christmas celebrations in other countries.

Great Christmas Traditions Around the World

Many countries put their own spin on Christmas celebrations. Read on.

United Kingdom Christmas traditions

Many Christmas traditions originated in the UK and are unique to this country. Wassailing and Boxing Day are two such old customs.

While The Christmas Meal is a dinner in the United States and many other countries, it is taken at lunch in the UK. Roast turkey and vegetables are the main servings on the menu. Roast beef and goose were popular in the old days. But Brussels sprouts are an integral part of the meal.

Ireland Christmas around the world

Ireland has always been known for its unique, often bizarre, traditions. On Christmas or Nollaig, the Irish folks will place a large candle on the sill of a large window on Christmas Eve.

They will keep the candle lit throughout the night to welcome Mary and Joseph. People go around wishing each other Nollaig Shona (Merry Christmas).

The day after Nollaig, they celebrate St. Stephen’s Day with the custom of the Wren Boys Procession. The procession involves young men and women dressing up in homemade costumes, carrying a holly bush at the end of a long pole, and singing a rhyme on a wren bird.

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Australia Christmas Celebration

The world recognizes Christmas with winter and snow. Australia recognizes it as the hottest time of the year – there’s no snow on Christmas here.

Carols by Candlelight services are unique to the country, with many local bands, choirs, and even celebrity singers joining the troupes. Unlike in the West, the carol songs here don’t have words about winter and snow.

Australia also has the tradition of Santa Claus and gift-giving, but when in Oz, he rides on kangaroos. At the same time, he also has to change his clothes to adjust to the hot Australian Christmas. You might like Funny Holiday Quotes.

German Christmas card

Austria and Germany Christmas around the world

Both Austria and Germany have many similarities in how Weihnachten is celebrated. Merry Christmas is pronounced as Frohe Weihnachten in German.

In Austria, it is believed that Christkind is the one who decorates the Christmas tree and brings kids presents. In local tradition, Christkind is a baby symbolizing newborn Christ. She has wings and golden hair.

In Nurnberg, in Germany, a parade takes place every Weihnachten and a young girl is selected to dress up and participate as the Christkind. She will have a long gold/white dress, blond and curly hair, a gold crown, and the wings of an angel.

The Ski Jumping Four Hills Tournament is also associated with a Christmas celebration in Austria and Germany.

See our Best Christmas Toasts.

Venezuela — Christmas around the world

Caracas, Venezuela, has a unique way of celebrating Christmas – skating to mass.

For an entire week before Christmas Eve, the city’s streets are closed for the Early Morning Mass where everyone skates to mass. No other traffic is allowed during this time. On Christmas, people wish Feliz Navidad to each other.

Italy Christmas Traditions

Italians wish Merry Christmas as Buon Natale. The Christmas Witch is an integral part of Italian Christmas. It is not Santa who brings gifts to kids here – it is a witch. Locally known as La Befana, the witch is an old woman who rides on a broomstick.

The belief is that she’s covered in soot because she enters and leaves through chimneys. Kids would leave food out for her, just like milk and cookies are left for Santa.

See 125 Beautiful and Inspirational Quotes on Italy.

Norway — Christmas around the world

Even Norway has its witch and broom belief in Christmas. In this Scandinavian country, there is a tradition of hiding brooms on Christmas Eve.

The locals believe that otherwise, the evil spirits and witches will come out of the graves and fly around on the brooms. Norwegians wish each other by calling ‘God Jul.’

See Merry Christmas Blessings.

Mexico Christmas

Mexicans have an entirely different way of celebrating Christmas. They have figures carved in radish lining and lined along the central plaza in big towns 2 days before Christmas Eve.

It is a colorful celebration with dancers, conquistadors, mythological/historical figures, and events being carved in radishes and placed all around.

It is known as the ‘El Festival de Los Rabanos (Festival of Radishes). People enjoy food and dance all around and wish each other Feliz Navidad.

Finland Christmas

Santa takes an entirely different form in Finland. He is known as Joulopukki, which stands for ‘Christmas Goat.’ Here Christmas is referred to as ‘Joulu,’ people wish each other ‘hyvää joulua,’ and the traditions can seem to be weird to outsiders.

Even animals in Finland are given their own Christmas. It is a custom among Finnish farmers to hang the sheaf of wheat on trees for the birds. Many people will also hang bags of nuts and suet on branches.

People visit the graves of their family members around on occasion. In fact, the custom is so widespread that the cemeteries and nearby areas can become crowded, and the local administration finds it difficult to manage the traffic.

Cemeteries turn into wonderlands as glowing lanterns are left alight through the night, and they create a dazzling effect against the snow.

Sweden Christmas Traditions

The Swedes have added another dimension to how Christmas or ‘Jul’ is celebrated. Of all the things, they like to spend their Christmas Eve afternoon watching Donald Duck.

This has been the tradition in Sweden since 1959. The TV1 station will air the program called “Kalle Anka och Hans vanner Oskar Gol Jul” exactly at 3 pm, and still, half the population in the country watches it on Jul Eve.

Many Swedish families will make a goat out of straw and place it near the Christmas Tree to guard it. In Gavle, the locals will build a massive goat out of straw, and it takes more than 2 days to build.

The Swedish Santa is referred to as Jultomten. Along with Santa, even elves and gnomes (Tomte and Nissar) can bring presents. Just like the Norwegians, the Swedes also wish each other ‘god Jul’ on Christmas.

Romania Christmas

Romania is another country with a goat tradition associated with Crăciun, as Christmas is known here. The carol will have at least one person dressed as a goat, who is known as Capra.

The goat will dance and jump around and engage in all kinds of mischief. Merry Christmas is wished as Crăciun fericit in Romanian.

Another Crăciun tradition is the Dubasi or the drumming band. On Christmas Eve dozens of bachelor men will go around through the streets, some even carrying violin and saxophone, and the locals will give them presents.

India Christmas

In India, the traditional Christmas Tree can take any form. It is common to come across a mango tree or even a banana tree decorated as a Christmas Tree.

In fact, mango leaves could be one of the decorative items of all-around homes. Catholics in some Indian states hold fast through to Christmas Eve.

The Indian version of Santa is referred to by different names – Father Christmas, Christmas Papa, or Christmas Baba, and he arrives in horse and cart to deliver presents to kids. The locals wish each other ‘Krisamas kee badhaee’ in Hindi.

See Christmas Card Day – December 9.

Russia Christmas Celebration

Russia always has a reputation for having a unique tradition, and they don’t seem to miss the chance on Rozhdestvo (Christmas in Russian).

The Russians celebrate Christmas an entire two weeks after December 25th – on January 7th. The Russians wish each other Merry Christmas by saying ‘S Rozhdestvom’.

Many people start fasting from Christmas Eve until they see the first star. They break their fast by drinking the famous ‘kutia’ porridge. Interestingly, the Rozhdestvo Eve dinner is mostly meatless. You could often be surprised to see some families enjoying ‘kutia’ from the same bowl.

There is another strange tradition to Russian Rozhdestvo, although it is increasingly fading away. Families will throw sochivo on the ceiling, and if some of it gets stuck, it is believed to bring good luck.

See 55 Merry Christmas Wishes and Greetings.

How to Say “Merry Christmas” in other Languages

English – Merry Christmas

Chinese – 圣诞节快乐

Croatian – sretan Božić

Danish – glædelig Jul

Dutch – vrolijk kerstfeest

French – joyeux Noël

German – Frohe Weihnachten

Greek – καλά Χριστούγεννα

Hindi – क्रिसमस की बधाई

Irish – Nollaig Shona

Italiam – Buon Natale

Japanese – メリークリスマス

Norwegian – god Jul

Polish – Wesołych – Świąt

Portuguese – Feliz Natal

Russian – С Рождеством

Spanish – Feliz Navidad

Swedish – god Jul

By Mike O’Halloran

Mike is the founder and editor of Greeting Card Poet.


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