Christmas Traditions Around The World - Fun Christmas Customs
Christmas is one of the most important celebrations everywhere in the world. But it doesn't mean that Christmas customs look the same in each country. Learn all about Christmas traditions around the world. Check which ones are familiar to you.
Polish Christmas traditions
It might seem that Christmas traditions in Poland are the same across the entire country. Of course, many of them overlap. But some result from the customs of a particular region.
As for Polish Christmas traditions known everywhere in the country, the 12 Christmas dishes are one of them. The particular dishes vary depending on the region. But there are many more similar traditions in Poland. You can find the most important ones below.
This Christmas tradition is connected directly to Christianity, in particular – the Last Supper, where bread was shared. It’s believed that the family shouldn’t sit to eat the Christmas Eve dinner if there are any disagreements. Sharing the Christmas wafer is a symbol of reconciliation.
Green tree, or the Christmas tree
The Christmas custom of decorating coniferous trees is deeply rooted among Polish families. But this custom has its origins in another country. It was brought to Poland from Prussia.
Initially, the Christmas tree looked very different from today. Apples and nuts were the primary decorations. Then ginger cookies and candies were added. As time passed, decorations changed. Currently, baubles are the most popular ornaments, along with wooden decorations in a particular style. A Scandinavian style Christmas tree is quite popular nowadays.
Hay under tablecloth
Although many people think that putting hay under the tablecloth on Christmas Eve is a Christian tradition, in fact it’s a pagan tradition. It was done when a sacrifice was offered to one of the Slavic gods, who was supposed to protect crops from disease.
Christians have borrowed this Christmas tradition, and the hay is attributed to the manger in which the baby Jesus was lied.
Empty seat at the table for a wanderer
Although Christmas is a time spent with the closest family, certain Polish Christmas traditions concern strangers. Leaving a free seat at the table is one of them. It means that in case someone lonely knocks on the door, the family should let them in to join the celebration.
This Polish Christmas tradition is related to the old belief that spirits of deceased family members might visit their families during Christmas. The empty spot was prepared for them.
Waiting for the first star
One of the Polish Christmas traditions indicates that one cannot start the Christmas Eve supper until the first star appears in the night sky. It’s usually looked out for by the youngest family members.
Christmas traditions in Germany
Christmas celebration in Germany is very similar to Poland. But there are certain key differences when it comes to Christmas customs.
- Christmas dishes are completely different, and the Christmas Eve supper is not as glamorous.
- People offer good wishes to each other, but without a Christmas wafer.
- Gifts aren’t left by the tree. Everyone receives them at the table.
- Weihnachtsstollen - Germans prepare a special loaf for Christmas, which is full of nuts and dried fruits.
Christmas traditions in France
Christmas in France lasts only two days and is celebrated similar as in Poland. As in most countries, the difference lies mostly in the food. French prepare the following meals for Christmas:
- turkey stuffed with chestnuts,
- foie gras - goose liver pâté.
The French Nativity Scene is also very interesting. In addition to the basic saint figures, it contains figurines depicting various professions. It means there might be nurses, postmasters or uniformed services included in the scene.
In France, a special cake is prepared only once in the year for Christmas - Bûche de Noël. Christmas gifts are opened on 25th December in the morning.
Spanish Christmas traditions
Christmas in Spain is celebrated for a very long time. Everything begins on 22nd December, and depending on the region, can last up to 6th January. The Christmas Eve supper is very festive, and the tables are full of various types of meat. Stuffed turkey and lamb are the most popular dishes. Other delicacies include:
- cinnamon cakes,
- snacks with pine nuts,
- candied fruits.
The special El Gordo lottery is a highly popular Spanish Christmas tradition. Some sources claim it’s one of the biggest lotteries in the world.
Other customs concern gift giving. They are gifted on 25th December and 6th January. The Christmas Fool’s Day is an interesting event. It is celebrated on 28th December. The event is called El Día de los Santos Inocentes. In translation, it means the Saint Innocents’ Day.
Italian Christmas customs and traditions
Christmas is very important in Italy, which is confirmed by the fact that Christmas trees are decorated as soon as the beginning of December. People also richly decorate their houses and apartments, and public spaces are full of nativity scenes.
As for Christmas dishes, they are made of fish and meat. Of course, pasta is also an obligatory element. Interestingly enough, the Christmas table in Italy should contain 13 meals.
Gifts are also given during Italian Christmas. They are brought by Italian Santa Claus called Babbo Natale.
Christmas traditions in England
Christmas in Great Britain look quite different from other countries, as they don’t include the Christmas Eve. It means the celebrations start on 25th December. The Queen’s or King’s speech is a significant point of the day – it always begins at 3 p.m.
Traditional British Christmas meals include meats, sausages and something sweet, that is – pudding.
British people love singing Christmas carols. Because of this, the streets are full of musicians who create a nice Christmas atmosphere.
When talking about Christmas traditions in the United Kingdom, one cannot forget about sales held on the second day of Christmas. Exceptionally low prices encourage people to take a day off and visit shopping centers.
Swedish Christmas traditions
Sweden doesn’t have any distinct Christmas traditions that would be different from other countries. But they have characteristic decorations appearing in houses, apartments and public spaces – dwarves with long beards. It’s a known Christmas custom in this country.
Christmas traditions in Finland
Finland has several unique Christmas traditions, not known anywhere else. The most interesting ones have been listed below:
- Every true Fin should visit a sauna on 24th December. It’s a symbolic way to clean one’s body and soul.
- Visiting loved ones’ graves is another essential spiritual aspect of Christmas – it’s also done on 24th December.
- Christmas fairs are quite popular in Finland. That’s where one can taste delicacies such as rice pudding and special mulled wine with spices.
Christmas traditions around the world – the United States
Christmas in the United States is a very glamorous event. It’s evident in decorations of houses and apartments. Some regions are very competitive and even hold contests for the best decorated home.
Interestingly enough, the beginnings of Christmas preparations can be noted as early as the end of August or the beginning of September. That’s when stores offer the first Christmas decorations.
As for other Christmas traditions in the USA, one cannot forget about sending Christmas cards. Everyone sends them to their closest family and friends.
📍 What are the best Christmas traditions?
Christmas traditions vary from country to country. But most people prepare special food, decorate Christmas trees, give gifts to each other and sing Christmas carols. Some places hold additional Christmas customs, such as sales in England, dwarves in Sweden and sauna in Finland.
📍 Where did Christmas traditions came from?
Christmas traditions were formed for years. Some originated from pagan beliefs, others were begun by Christians. They were modified over the years. Christmas tree decoration is a good example, as it looks completely different nowadays than in the past.
📍 Are there Christmas traditions everywhere in the world?
Christmas traditions are present wherever this holiday is celebrated. Some countries don't pay attention to it, e.g., Indonesia. Some Asian and African countries don't celebrate it at all.
📍 What are some good Christmas customs for children?
The youngest family members love Christmas traditions. They can e.g., look for the first star and open gifts. Children also appreciate sweets prepared for this occasion.
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