Christmas Customs Around the World

Christmas Customs Around the World

December is well-known for Christmas but do you know how people in countries around the world celebrate it? Here are some customs from various parts of the world.

Photographer: Jonathan Borba | Source: Unsplash

Australia

Greeting

Merry Christmas

Santas Name

Santa Claus. Children leave him a piece of cake or biscuits and a glass of milk or a bottle of beer.

Food

Many Christmas dinners include roasted meats and vegetables, special fruit cakes, and puddings with a coin baked inside. Since the temperature can reach 100 degrees Fahrenheit, people are starting to eat cold meats and salads, tropical fruits like mangoes, and stone fruits like plums. Often, the main meal is eaten for lunch.

Gifts

These are left under the Christmas tree and opened on Christmas morning.

Decorations

Shops and homes are decorated with tinsel, Christmas trees, decorations for the holiday, and special lights.

Customs

Traditional and Australian carols are sung by candlelight on Christmas Eve and are broadcast on television. On Boxing Day, the day after Christmas, two sporting events take place:

The Boxing Day Test Match (cricket game) and the start of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.

O Shopping Recife promoveu a chegada do Papai Noel. Evento dedicado as crianças.  Com shows infantil e brincadeiras únicas.
Photographer: Anderson W Rangel | Source: Unsplash

Brazil

Greeting

Feliz Natal

Santa’s Name

Papai Noel (Father Noel), who is dressed in a red, silk suit with boots.

Food

Many people eat a traditional feast with roast turkey and vegetables, while others eat chicken and rice or beans. Beer and wine are also served. Some regions begin eating around 9 PM on Christmas Eve, while others eat around midnight.

Gifts

Local charities take in donations but do not seem to have enough presents for all the children.

Decorations

Brazil has a mixture of people so Christmas is celebrated in different ways. In the northeastern area, it is common to find Nativity Scenes; in the southern part, snow is simulated with little pieces of cotton on pine trees.

Customs

Brazilians sing a number of Christmas carols.

Photographer: Markus Winkler | Source: Unsplash

Greece

Greeting

Eftihismena Christougenna

Food

Special holiday cakes are baked.

Gifts

Most Greek people exchange gifts on Saint Basil’s Day, January 1.

Customs

To honor Saint Basil, the holiday cakes have gold coins hidden inside them. The cakes are cut at midnight on New Year's Eve. Whoever has a gold coin in his piece of cake will have good luck the following year.

Hygge Christmas morning
Photographer: Evelin Horvath | Source: Unsplash

Hungary

Santa’s Name

Actually, the Baby Jesus is said to bring presents on Christmas Eve. A bell sounds signaling that the Angels have brought the tree and gifts.

Customs

On December 5, children leave out their shoes. During the night, Mikulas and Black Peter come to fill them with goodies for well-behaved children and switches for naughty children.


India

Decorations

Sometimes, houses are decorated with mango leaves; mango or banana trees are also decorated. Small, clay, oil-burning lamps are placed on the edges of flat roofs as decorations.

Photographer: Element5 Digital | Source: Unsplash

Israel

Greeting

Chag Semeach (Happy Chanukah)

Santa’s Name

Actually, parents, grandparents, and other family members give presents to children.

Food

Because oil is an important part of the holiday, many foods are prepared with it. A favorite is potato latkes (pancakes).

Gifts

Since Chanukah lasts for eight days, children may receive one present each night.

Decorations

Jewish stars, blue or silver foil garlands, dreidels (spinning tops), Chanukah gelt (chocolate coins), and pictures of the Maccabees (Jewish army that recaptured the Holy Temple and Jerusalem from the Assyrian Greek King Antiochus) are found around the house.

Customs

The menorah (candelabra) is lit each night. On the first night, one candle is lit; on, the second night, two candles; and so on until all the candles are lit on the eighth night. After lighting the candles, families eat a festive meal, dance, play games, and open presents. They also attend Chanukah parties.

Winter Illuminations
Photographer: Ice Tea | Source: Unsplash

Japan

Greeting

Kurisumasu Omedeto

Santa’s Name

Santa Kurohsu. He does not appear in person but is pictured in advertisements as a kind old man with a round sack on his back.

Food

Depending upon the family’s custom, they eat turkey on Christmas Day or on Christmas Eve. Japanese families also eat Christmas cake.

Gifts

Stores sell merchandise for men, women, and children; and on Christmas Day, families exchange gifts.

Decorations

More and more artificial Christmas trees are beginning to appear. They are decorated with small toys, gold paper fans, dolls, lanterns, paper ornaments, and wind chimes. A popular ornament is the origami swan. Other decorations are mistletoe, evergreen, tinsel, and lights. An amulet is put on the front door for good luck and children exchange 'birds of peace,' pledging there must not be any more war.

Customs

The daiku, or Great Nine, refers to Beethoven's Ninth Symphony and is performed in many places.

Photographer: Priss Enri | Source: Unsplash

Mexico

Greeting

Feliz Navidad

Customs

Beginning on December 15, some families carry colorful lanterns and walk from house to house in their neighborhoods, each night, until Christmas Eve. This is called La Posada, which means ‘the procession.’ On each of the nights, the families are invited into different houses where they become guests at a party. There is plenty to eat and drink. Children play the pinata game, trying to break open the papier-mache figure with a stick while blindfolded; when it is cracked open, candies and small gifts fall out.

jingle bell rock, jack russel is rocking christmas
Photographer: marieke koenders | Source: Unsplash

Netherlands

Greeting

Hartelijke Kerstroeten

Santa’s Name

Sinterklaas (St. Nicholas), who wears a red bishop’s hat and bishop’s cloak and has white hair and a white beard. He arrives on a white horse with his servant, Black Pete, to put small gifts in children's wooden shoes.

Food

The Dutch people eat lots of marzipan, spiced ginger biscuits, tall chocolate letters, and ‘bankletter’ – initials made of pastry and filled with almond paste. When they are around the Christmas tree singing songs, they eat ‘Kerstkrans’ – a Christmas ring.

Gifts

On December 6, after hearing a knock at their door, children find a bag full of toys, nuts, and gifts.

Decorations

The Christmas tree is known as the Paradise Tree. Decorations of the season include dolls, musical instruments, fruit, candies, and lights.

Customs

The Dutch sing carols, the most popular one being “O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree.”

Photographer: Stefan Sidén | Source: Unsplash

Sweden

Greeting

God Jul

Food

Coffee, cakes, and special buns are served on Santa Lucia Day, December 13.

Customs

Santa Lucia Day honors Saint Lucy, who helped blind people. The oldest daughter in each Swedish household dresses in a white gown with a red sash, wears a crown of evergreen with seven candles in it, awakens the family with a song, and serves the coffee, cakes, and buns. Each town and city also chooses a young woman to be Lucia for the day. She then serves coffee and food to the townspeople at schools, hospitals, and other public buildings. From these women, a national Lucia is chosen; followed by a parade, feast, and dance.


Now that you have this data, let your children put the information in a comparison chart. Label the left side with the names of the countries and the bottom with the various information (ie: Greeting, Food, and so on). Then fill in the boxes!

Let your children do research to find out the information I left out.

Conduct research to find out the same customs for other countries, especially the heritage countries of students in your class or your own family.

However you celebrate the holidays, have a safe, wonderful season and a Happy New Year!

I hope these ideas are useful and inspire your own creative thinking.

And remember…Reading is FUNdamental!


Note: This content was curated from a third party.

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