Christmas Traditions Across the Globe
Christmas traditions are so familiar and popular in the West that you can’t say December without imagining decorating Christmas trees, wrapping presents, or decorating your home with a hundred little blinking lights. Around the world, Christmas traditions may be a little different, but it's the fusion of holiday cheer with some unique cultural flair that makes them unique to the country of origin.
We list some of these countries and give some insight on why their Christmas traditions and celebrations are special to them:
Christians in China call the seasonal celebration Sheng Dan Jieh or “Holy Birth Festival”. Homes are decorated with many of the usual Christmas trimmings like a Christmas tree dubbed the “tree of light” but is decorated with many Asian-inspired items like lanterns, flowers and crimson paper chains that symbolize happiness.
Australia’s Christmas Day falls upon their summertime, so no bundling up in the land down under. Instead, families go outside in all their summer apparel to enjoy summer activities like going to the beach or having outdoor barbecues. They do have a popular, Christmas-like tradition called Carols by Candlelight where people come together to sing carols and light the darkness with candles.
In France, celebrations for Christmas start on December 5, called St. Nicholas Eve. This leads up to the 24th, Christmas Eve, which is still considered the most special time of the French celebration of Christmas. Regular Christmas traditions like going to church and enjoying a feast of delicious food still happen. A special dessert called Buche de Noel is traditionally served as well, a thick buttercream-filled dessert decorated to look like a Yule log.
Christmas decorations and themes are often found strewn across the Philippines as early as September. Being a country filled with devout, Catholic individuals, many Philippine traditions are related to faith. Starting December 16th, pre-dawn masses called “Simbang Gabi” or “Misa de Gallo” are observed for 9 days, ending on Christmas Day. Christmas dinners are very family oriented, often being potluck celebrations where each family brings a Christmas dish to share.
Italian Christmas traditions are much more celebratory than anything. Christmas season for Italy begins on the first Sunday of Advent or 4 Sundays before Christmas. During this time, Christmas fairs and markets appear across the country where families shop for decorations, gifts and most importantly, figures and props for the manger scene which are usually present in Italian households all over. These fairs also feature fireworks, bonfires and holiday music for folks to enjoy the spirit of the season.
No matter where you go across this world, as long as they celebrate Christmas, there will always be an element of giving, joy, selflessness and togetherness ingrained in each holiday tradition.