All over the world Christmas is celebrated on 25th December, Christmas Day. At Christmas, Christians all over the world celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Traditional Christmas decorations can often be admired and festive celebrations occur in most countries, even in countries where Christianity is not the religion of the majority of people.
People all over the world celebrate Christmas in different ways. Here we explore some of the different traditions around the world.
In the UK, most villages, towns and cities are decorated with Christmas lights in the weeks leading up to and over the Christmas period. Christmas trees are decorated with baubles, lights and tinsel and put up in people’s homes, along with decorations and outside lights.
On Christmas Eve children often hang up their stockings to be filled with gifts from Santa Claus. On Christmas day presents are opened and families feast on a traditional Christmas dinner, which is usually roast turkey.
In the weeks leading up to Christmas, Christmas markets are set up on main squares in many cities. Houses are often decorated with lights and ornaments in December. However the Christmas tree is usually only put up in homes the morning of Christmas Eve.
Festive celebrations in Germany begin on 24th December and shops close early on Christmas Eve in preparation for the festivities to begin.
On Christmas Eve in France, Children put their polished shoes out in front of the chimney in the hope that ‘Père Noël’ (Father Christmas) fills their shoes with sweets. Christmas Day is a public holiday in France and families get together for a big feast. On this day presents are also exchanged and opened.
In Australia, Christmas falls in the summer so in the weeks leading up to Christmas, people attend Christmas picnics that are organised by various churches and sing Christmas carols on the beach. Houses are decorated with Christmassy decorations and trees are put up.
Australian decorations are also used, including glass baubles or wooden ornaments decorated with images of Australian wildlife, such as macrotis, koalas, king parrots, waratah flowers, or Australian landmarks.
In the Philippines there is a special tradition of having a Christmas lantern, called ‘paról’, which is star-shaped and used for remembering the star of Bethlehem. It is mainly made out of bamboo and paper. Formal Christmas celebrations in the Philippines start on 16th December when many people go to the first of nine early morning masses.
The Christmas celebrations continue to the First Sunday in January when the Feast of the Three Kings is celebrated.
In Singapore only about two in ten people are Christians, however, Christmas is very commercialised. Christmas decorations with lots of fairy lights are placed in houses and in cities.Almost every store has a Christmas tree at the entrance.
The 2km Orchard Road stretch is decorated and lit up with impressive lights of all kinds. The decorated shopping centres along Orchard Road often attract numerous visitors, locals and tourists throughout the Christmas period.
In India, Christmas cooking starts early as the women of the family get together over a weekend or two and make all the Christmas sweets for the family. On the morning of Christmas, Indian families wake up to a spicy breakfast and then go round to all their neighbours’ house and exchange homemade sweets. This is followed by a traditional spicy Indian Christmas lunch at home.
In Russia, Christmas is celebrated on 7th January and not 25th December like most other countries. This is because the Orthodox Church uses the old ‘Julian’ calendar for religious celebration days. In the traditional Russian Christmas, special prayers are said. Some people fast, sometimes for 39 days until January 6th (their Christmas Eve), when the first evening star appears in the sky.
Single women in the Czech Republic perform a traditional Christmas ritual on Christmas Eve, this involves throwing a shoe over their shoulder out of their front door. If the front of the shoe points towards the door, this means that they will marry in the next year. If the shoes heel points towards the door this means that they will stay single for another year.
The traditional meal, served as dinner on Christmas Eve consists of either fish or pea soup and fried fish, served with potato salad.
Christmas Eve is thought of as a romantic day, which couples spend together and exchange presents. In Japan, the traditional Christmas dinner is KFC. It is that popular that you would have to make a reservation to eat there on Christmas Day! Christmas is not a national holiday in Japan, so schools and businesses are normally open on December 25th. In Japan Santa is known as サンタさん、サンタクロース Santa-san (Mr Santa).
Finnish people believe that Father Christmas lives in the north part of Finland called Korvatunturi (Lapland), north of the Arctic Circle. People from all over the world send letters to Santa Claus in Finland.
There is a big tourist theme park called 'Christmas Land' in Lapland, near to where they say that Father Christmas lives. On Christmas Eve it’s traditional to eat rice porridge and plum fruit juice for breakfast. The main meal on Christmas Day is a leg of pork served with mashed potato traditionally baked slowly in the oven with similarly cooked mashed swede.
Here, the festive season traditionally begins on the fourth Thursday in November, just after the Thanksgiving holiday. Much like the United Kingdom, in the final days leading to December 25, small evergreen trees are put up in most homes and beautifully decorated with coloured lights, tinsel, angels, stars and ornaments.
Many people in the USA travel to visit family members or friends on Christmas Eve. Some people, especially Roman Catholics, attend a midnight mass service at church and participate in singing carols. On Christmas Eve adults drink eggnog, a drink made with cream, milk, sugar, eggs and brandy/rum. The Christmas dinner in America usually includes turkey or ham, potatoes and pie
Christmas is celebrated in lots of different ways but many of the same traditions are popular throughout many different countries. In the end, we all have our own traditions for celebrating Christmas with family and friends. How do you celebrate Christmas? Let us know via our Facebook and Twitter pages.
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