Christmas Traditions From Around the World

By jen - Last updated: Thursday, November 15, 2012 - Save & Share - Leave a Comment

With only a month and a half to go, our attention is now being diverted towards the Christmas season. It’s difficult to ignore, shops are filled with festive goods and gift ideas, cities have decorations up and are preparing to switch on the lights and brighten up the high streets and TV stations are now hosting numerous Christmas ads.

These may be the signs which tell us that Christmas is fast approaching, but for other cultures, they do things a little bit differently. All over the world, there are different ways of celebrating the festive season and how each country commemorates the event gives us an insight into their culture and beliefs.

For Europe, this varies depending on where you’re based. For one, Germany celebrates Nikolaustag (Saint Nicholas Day) on December 6th. This day is when children leave out their shoes for Saint Nicholas to put sweets and goodies in them. He sometimes even visits them at schools or at public events. In every village, town and city, the Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas markets) becomes a main feature until December 24th, when the Christmas trees are finally put up.

On the other hand, the Danes celebrate Juleaften (Yule evening) on December 24th. Here families eat a traditional evening meal which has roast pork, roast duck, or roast goose as the main attraction. When that is finished, families gather around the Christmas tree and sing songs while holding hands and dancing in circles. After that, the handing out of presents occurs where the children will do it or Father Christmas will appear and distribute them.

Heading over to Latin America, El Salvador sees the nation’s children celebrating the holidays by playing with firecrackers, fountains like the volcancitos (‘little volcanos) and sparklers named estrelliates (little stars). Older children and young adults get to display larger fireworks or Roman Candles and families hold parties where they dance and eat. After Christmas Eve, when the clock strikes midnight and leads into Christmas Day, everyone gathers around the Christmas tree to open their presents.

Moving over to Asia, for the people of Sri Lanka, the first of December is signalled by the sound of fire crackers at dawn, alerting everyone that Christmas is around the corner. It’s then that the Catholic community perform the first ritualistic task of merry making.

Finally finishing up in Japan, Christmas isn’t seen as a national holiday, but the effects it has on commerce makes it popular. The event has become a holiday for couples to spend time together and exchange gifts, but perhaps most bizarrely, an advertising campaign back in the 1970s by KFC has made eating at the fast food restaurant a national custom. Its popularity is so great; the chain has to take reservations months in advance.

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