Did You Know? International Christmas Tradition Tidbits

International Christmas Traditions

People in other parts of the world may celebrate Christmas in some ways that are familiar, but in others that contain a national flavor. Here are some items or activities that some people in these nations may include:

Brazil Nativity Scenes, known as Presépios, set-up in churches and homes in December. Big firework displays occur after Midnight Mass.

France On December 6, the feast day of Saint-Nicolas, Father Christmas, le Père Noël, brings small gifts and sweets for children.

India Giant paper lanterns, in the shape of stars, hung on Christmas Eve between houses so that the stars float above you as you walk down the road.

Ireland A ring of Holly on a front door.

Japan A secular celebration, thought of as a holiday for lovers, rather than a time to gather with family.

Kenya Christmas eve some churches dramatizing the whole story of the birth of Christ throughout the night.

Mexico Celebrated from December 12th to January 6th. Children perform the ‘Posada,’ processions celebrating different parts of the Christmas story, culminating in a fiesta which will usually include one or more piñatas.

Philippines Christmas carols played in shops as early as September! Formal celebrations start December 16 with nine early morning masses, then mass on Christmas day. Celebrations continue until Epiphany or the Feast of the Three Kings.

Serbia In the past the father of the family cut a young oak called the ‘Badnjak’ (Christmas Eve tree). Today people buy their Badnjak which they burn like a Yule Log. Churches may have bonfires outside, burning oak branches and Badnjak.

South Korea An official public holiday. Churches decorate with lights and perhaps with a bright red neon cross on top (which remains in place year round) and have a service on Christmas day, often attended by both Christians and non-Christians.

Switzerland A meal eaten on Christmas Eve, including a Christmas ham and scalloped potatoes with melted cheese and milk. Desert is often a walnut cake and Christmas cookies.

Ukraine Celebrated January 7 because they use the old ‘Julian’ calendar for their church festivals. Christmas Trees decorated with artificial spider’s webs in conjunction with the popular story of “The Christmas Spider.”

Venezuela Colorful displays and presentations: firework shows, Nativity Scenes (Nacimientos), Christmas Trees.

Zimbabwe Special food—chicken with rice, a very expensive dish and special treat often eaten at Christmas Day parties. Santa sometimes arrives at big stores in a Fire Engine and streets in big cities display colorful Christmas lights.

What traditions have you heard about or experienced in other countries?

Published in: on December 11, 2018 at 5:05 pm  Comments (2)  
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