Christmas Traditions from Around the World
By Sahar Ali
Volume 3 Issue 2
December 23, 2022
Image provided by A&E Networks
Celebrated every year on December 25th, Christmas is a religious holiday observed all around the world by Christians and non-Christians. Christmas is celebrated to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ.
Throughout the world, countries have different and interesting ways of celebrating this holiday full of joy. Let’s go around the world and learn about the different Christmas traditions that people around the world have!
Iceland – Icelandic families celebrate 13 days of Christmas, similar to the 12 days of Christmas in the United States. During these days, young children are visited by 13 Yule Lads each night leading up to Christmas day. Children will place their shoes by a window and proceed to bed. If the child has been good, they will be given candy in the morning. However, if a child has been bad, they will receive shoes full of rotten potatoes. Sounds worse than being greeted with coal in your stocking!
Finland – On Christmas morning, Finnish families eat a porridge made with rice and milk topped with either cinnamon or butter. Inside the porridge, a hidden almond is placed. The first person to uncover the almond “wins”. Some families, however, end up adding extra almonds into the porridge to prevent children from getting upset. And at the end of the day, Finnish families will warm up in a sauna.
Mexico – Members of the church from all around Mexico present a Shepard’s Play, or Pastorellas, which retells the Christmas story. The country’s Christmas season starts in early December with a march that reenacts Mary and Joseph’s journey, known as Posadas. Mexicans also use beautiful, vibrant red poinsettias in holiday arrangements for decorations throughout the country.
El Salvador – On December 24th and 25th, Salvadorians toast Christmas with fireworks. Young children are given volcancitos (translated to little volcanoes) and estrellitas (translated to little stars), which are small firecrackers. On the other hand, older children and young adults prefer larger firecrackers and Roman candles.
Philippines – In the city of San Fernando, the Giant Lantern Festival, known as Ligligan Parul, is held every year. This festival includes dazzling parols (lanterns) that represent the Star of Bethlehem. In each parol, there are thousands of spinning lights that brighten the night sky. San Fernando has become the “Christmas Capital of the Philippines” because of Ligligan Parul.
Japan – Since 1% of Japan’s population is Christian, Christmas is not a national holiday in the country. However, the Japanese have found a rather interesting way to take part in this global celebration. On Christmas, Japanese families go to KFC instead of having a dinner around the table with their families. This tradition started in 1974. The fast-food chain has remained popular, and now many families order months in advance. On the other hand, some people choose to wait and stand on lines that are two hours long in order to get their meal.
United States – American families decorate their homes with colorful lights or large snowmen and/or Santa Clause figures. On Christmas Eve, parents along with their children place cookies and milk as a snack for Santa Clause when he comes to deliver presents during the night. Many people also watch Christmas movies throughout the month of December, decorate gingerbread houses, and exchange gifts.
Canada – Just like American families, Canadians also decorate their houses with vibrant lights. Additionally, stockings are hung by the fireplace. In northern Canada, Sinck Tuck is a celebration observed by the native Inuits. This celebration includes dancing, feasting, and the exchange of presents.