Christmas Celebrations Worldwide That You Should Know

Christmas tree with presents near the fireplace
Christmas is coming near! Have you know how Christmas celebration look like in other countries across the globe yet? Each country has its own special ways to enjoy the holiday season. From big feasts to fun traditions, every place has unique ways to make Christmas a time for joy and togetherness. Let’s take a peek with Koolteee at how different countries celebrate this festive time!

1. Christmas Celebrations Around The World

Every continent celebrates Christmas in various ways with different Christmas customs and traditions. In Europe, Christmas is frequently centered around longstanding traditions like elaborate feasts, festive markets, and religious ceremonies. In America, it’s a blend of family gatherings, decorations, gift-giving, and commercialized aspects like Santa Claus. In parts of Asia, while not universally celebrated, it’s often observed as a more commercial and social event, focusing on modern traditions like shopping, light displays, and romantic outings rather than religious customs found in other regions.

2. Christmas Celebrations in America

2.1. Mexico

Christmas Celebrations Worldwide That You Should Know
Christmas Celebrations Worldwide That You Should Know

In Mexico, Christmas started from December 25th to January 6th. Christmas celebrations in Mexico are filled with cherished traditions. Families start with Las Posadas, reenacting Mary and Joseph’s journey, followed by midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. They feast on tamales and ponche while decorating their homes with colorful nativity displays. The arrival of the Three Wise Men on January 6th brings gifts and the sharing of Rosca de Reyes.

Festivities in Mexico feature piñatas, lively carols, and dazzling fireworks. Streets light up with vibrant decorations, and families gather for joyful reunions. It’s a blend of religious rituals, feasting, and cheerful customs, making Mexican Christmas a time of togetherness and vibrant cultural festivities.

2.2. United States

It is hard to discuss a unique Christmas that is exclusive to Americans given the diversity of cultures and customs found in the US. Activities during Christmas festival will depend on each family’s culture. More specifically, Christmas celebrations in America blend flavors from Australia, Ireland, Poland and Belgium.

Christmas in USA
Christmas Celebrations Worldwide That You Should Know

On the Hawaiian island, kids believe that Santa Claus will arrive by boat, while children in Alaska wander and sing carols while carrying huge stars. Meanwhile, families in New Mexico will decorate front yards with paper lanterns and stars, which is known as luminarias or farolitos. Children in Texas participate in Posadas festival, which is similar as in Mexico.

Christmas celebration in the US involves decorating houses with Christmas trees, lights, wreaths, and other festive decorations. Families gather to share meals, exchange gifts and create cherished memories. The churches hold special services like midnight Mass or Christmas Eve candlelight ceremonies to celebrate the religious significance of the holiday.

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3. Christmas Celebrations in Asia

3.1. Japan

Japan, similar to many other Asian countries, doesn’t have an official holiday for Christmas, meaning that there are no official days off from work or school. However, the Christmas season is recognized and celebrated in various ways. As December begins, the streets start adorning themselves with decorative lights. Major centers in Tokyo, such as Tokyo and Shibuya Station, dazzle with beautiful illuminations. Christmas trees adorn squares, while supermarkets stock various festive items like red boots filled with candy, pine needle wreaths donned with red silk ribbons and Christmas bells, and even European Christmas pastries like panettone from Italy.

In Japan, KFC is synonymous with Christmas. If you want to enjoy KFC’s Christmas fixed meals, you must order weeks in advance. Families enjoy “Kentucky for Christmas” due to a successful marketing campaign, making KFC a festive staple for many Japanese this season.

Christmas KFC in Japan
Christmas Celebrations Worldwide That You Should Know

During Christmas, families often gather to eat, exchange gifts, or venture out together. Unlike giving red cards in many other countries, Japanese people exchange white cards resembling snowflakes, symbolizing purity and innocence. For couples, they view Christmas almost like Valentine’s Day. It’s common for boys and girls to leverage the Christmas season to express their affection and exchange gifts with special meanings.

3.2. Phillipines

Christmas in Phillipines
Christmas Celebrations Worldwide That You Should Know

The Philippines distinguishes itself in Asia with its exceptionally long Christmas celebration starting in early September, ranking among the world’s lengthiest and most captivating festivals. Many Filipinos attend the nine dawn masses starting December 16 as part of their religious traditions.

The Parol Festival, lasting about 9 days around Christmas, is a significant and popular event in the Philippines. Named after “Pasko” for Christmas and “Star”, these radiant star-shaped lanterns adorn houses and streets, symbolizing the holiday’s essence.

To commemorate Christmas, their homes and streets shimmer with the parol lanterns. The birth of Jesus is portrayed in nativity scenes, which are common decorations in houses, churches, and public areas.  Families gather for a traditional midnight masses on Christmas Eve, followed by a grand feast called Noche Buena which featuring traditional Filipino dishes like lechon, hamon and various sweets.

4. Christmas Celebrations in Europe

4.1. Russia

Russia and Eastern European countries celebrate Christmas on January 7th, which is 13 days later than Christmas in Catholic regions. Before Christmas, Russians often observe a 40-day fast precedes January 6th, ending when the first star rises. On January 7th, wives clean the house and prepare a table with 12 dishes, including traditional dishes like Kutya, Solyanka and roast goose or duck.

Christmas Eve involves changing clothes and wearing masks to remain unrecognized. Then, people organize traditional games and dances in homes or on the streets. Another custom involves going from house to house, singing special songs praising the homeowners and wishing them well, after which the hosts offer delicious food or money to the guests.

Russian Christmas introduces a unique Santa Claus wears a blue coat and is assisted by his niece, who delivers gifts to children. They are known as Ded Moroz (Grandfather Frost) and Snow Maiden.

Ded Moroz and Snow Maiden
Christmas Celebrations Worldwide That You Should Know

4.2. Germany

German Christmas Market
Christmas Celebrations Worldwide That You Should Know

In Germany, December 25th and 26th are legal holidays, known as the first and second Christmas Day. Families across the country decorate Advent wreaths with four candles, lighting one on each of the four Sundays leading up to Christmas.

Germany’s Christmas tradition centers on festive markets with varied sizes and vibrant atmospheres, commencing in December. Notably, the “Dresdner Christstollen” cake is a market highlight, historically known as “Striezel”. Visitors indulge in this cake, often purchasing it as gifts. Another custom involves children leaving drawings by windows, hoping Santa will fill dishes with treats and gifts.

On December 24th, businesses close in preparation for Christmas. Families typically decorate their homes, sing hymns, read the story of Christ’s birth, attend church services, and exchange gifts on Christmas Eve. On December 25th, Christmas Day, family and friends visit each other to share dinner. Popular dishes include roast goose, duck, or rabbit with potato dumplings or Spätzle and red cabbage.

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Exploring Christmas holidays around the world reveals the richness and beauty of cultural diversity. From Mexico’s vibrant Las Posadas to Germany’s enchanting Christmas markets, each country adds unique colors to this global celebration. May this insight into global celebrations enrich your understanding, fostering a joyous and inclusive holiday season with your nearest and dearest. I wish you a peaceful and warm Christmas!