Christmas Traditions Around the World

How is Christmas celebrated around the world? We explore some Christmas traditions in other countries!

Though Christmas is a holiday that is celebrated in many countries around the globe, Christmas traditions around the world vary greatly. Nearly every culture that takes part in this Christian holiday has its own unique foods, music, and activities that make up their celebrations.

Here in the United States, Christmas often means Santa Claus, elaborately decorated Christmas trees, and huge feasts with friends and family. Some family traditions, however, are taken from Christmas traditions around the world. Here are just a few of the unique ways that certain cultures celebrate Christmas.

Christmas Traditions Around the World

German Christmas Traditions

In Germany, the celebration of Advent is the centerpiece of the Christmas season. Advent wreaths and calendars are used to count the days to Christmas Day. Christmas markets are also important to the celebration of the season. Each town has its own market where traditional holiday food, decorations, and gifts are sold. Christmas trees appear in most homes, decorated with glass ornaments. Most families attend a church service or mass on Christmas Eve, then celebrate with their families on Christmas Day with the festivities culminating in a dinner of goose, rabbit, or a roast.

Mexican Christmas Traditions

Posada is a Christmas tradition in Mexico, commemorating the struggle of Mary and Joseph as they attempted to find room at an inn in Bethlehem. Children wander from house to house each night from December 16th through Christmas Eve, singing songs, and celebrating at the designated home that invites them in for a party. Fireworks are a large part of Christmas celebrations in Mexico. Though some areas in Mexico take part in the tradition of Santa Claus coming on Christmas Eve, in other areas, gifts are left by the magi on Epiphany, which is January 6th.

French Christmas Traditions

Christmas Eve is a special time in French Christmas traditions. The Yule Log is burned all night and food is left out for Mary and baby Jesus, in case they pass by in the night. Reveillon is their traditional Christmas Eve meal, which takes place after returning from midnight mass. Pere Noel or Father Christmas takes the place of Santa Claus in France, bringing gifts to the children.

Italian Christmas Traditions

Nativities are something that is very important to Italians in their Christmas celebrations. Many homes, villages, and towns have elaborate crib scenes featuring the major characters in the Christmas story, as well as extras and additional scenery. On Christmas Eve, seafood is the traditional meal, as many fast from meat and dairy. Children will receive small gifts from Babbo Natale on Christmas Eve, but most larger gifts are given on Epiphany.

Irish Christmas Traditions

Ireland shares many traditions with the UK, but there are a handful of Christmas customs that are uniquely Irish. Some homes leave a candle in the window to light the way for Mary and Joseph on Christmas Eve. Epiphany was also celebrated in some parts of Ireland as a day off for the women of the home. Men handle the traditional “women’s” chores while they enjoy time to relax with their friends. This tradition has begun to die out, but still makes appearances in some areas.

As you can see, there are so many unique Christmas traditions around the world. Nearly every country that celebrates the holiday has their own unique way of commemorating the birth of Christ.

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