Christmas Traditions Around the World

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Happy family at christmas opening gifts together on the couch

Yet another year has almost passed by and we are in the middle of the most festive season – CHRISTMAS! Holiday lights, Christmas cookies and Christmas songs trilling from the radio – admit it you have also been waiting for this all year long. To increase your excitement and shorten the waiting time until your family gathering for the Christmas celebration, get yourself acquainted with different Christmas traditions around the world. Maybe you might even discover some similarities to your own traditions.

Great Britain

On Christmas Eve, presents are left under the tree. The next morning they get unwrapped. Then the real festivities begin in Great Britain. Traditionally, many people in England watch the Queen's annual Christmas message at 3.00pm. At lunch, everyone gathers for the big Christmas feast: turkey or roast beef with roast potatoes and Brussels sprouts. Plum Christmas pudding is served for dessert.



In Sweden the presents are unwrapped on Christmas Eve. Afterwards, the focus is on the food: at the multi-course Christmas buffet "Julbord", people feast with friends. To start things off, there is a "Glögg" (mulled wine) then pickled herring and salmon are served as the first course. For the main course, "Köttbullar" (meatballs) and game specialities such as elk are served. House ghosts don't have to go hungry either, they are appeased with milk porridge, which is placed outside the door. In between, it is advisable to air the house because Santa likes to throw presents in through the window!



For Greeks, fire has an important meaning at Christmas. Public fires blaze for twelve days in the country to keep goblins at bay. For dinner there is stuffed chicken with potato wedges and lots of salad and other side dishes. The typical Christmas cookies are Kurabiedes. A typical Greek tradition is that children go from house to house singing Kalanda, which is similar in comparison to carol singers. Kalanda is sung at Christmas and New Year and the children receive sweets or some money for their performance.



Australians have similar traditions to the British but as they are used to Christmas in the sunshine, the content of their carols is also summery. Instead of a real Christmas tree, many people put up a fake one. Santa Clause places the presents under the Christmas tree at night from December 24th to December 25th. Many Australians like the custom of picnicking on the beach on the days after big Christmas celebrations.


New Zealand

New Zealanders also enjoy Christmas with summer temperatures. Dishes with various berries are popular, for example blackberries, strawberries and raspberries with ice cream. In addition, New Zealanders like a local cake at Christmas called "Pavlova" made of cream and egg whites and covered with slices of kiwi. As in Australia, the celebration is based on British traditions.



Mexicans celebrate Christmas in a very exuberant way. They start the celebrations as early as mid-December. The story of Mary and Joseph is re-enacted every day until Christmas Eve. A couple in disguise is initially turned away at the front door, but eventually they are allowed inside. Afterwards, there is a big fiesta with dancing and music, and children enjoy a "piñata", a cardboard figure filled with sweets. The actual Christmas celebration is just as cheerful. The Christmas tree is usually an artificial one, it may also be pink or blue. After midnight mass, Christmas turkey is eaten, then the party goes on until the early hours of the morning.



In Russia there is the tradition of koliada (carols) at Christmas, it’s when Russians dress up and stroll from house to house, singing koliadas (carols) and having fun on Christmas Eve. They receive candy and a little money in return, especially teens and children. It’s also more common to see this happen in the countryside than in a big city. The Christmas service in the Church of the Redeemer in Moscow church is broadcast live on television.


What is your favourite Christmas tradition for you and your family or friends? Leave us a comment below.

Do you want to find out more about different traditions in other countries? Don’t miss out on our blogs about Easter traditions and Halloween traditions.