Five Christmas Traditions from Around the World

santa holding a globe

Christmas as a famous carol tells us, is the most wonderful time of the year. It’s one of the few holidays that is celebrated throughout the world. We’re familiar with how we celebrate in our own country, but many of us don’t know how other cultures celebrate this joyous holiday.

Here are a few ways Christmas is celebrated in other areas of the globe.

Trinidad and Tobago

As with the United States, Trinidadians like to celebrate Christmas with their friends and family. There is usually an open-door type policy and people freely roam from one house to another to partake in festivities and sampling each other’s food and drink.

As part of their celebration, Trinidadians will make repairs to their homes and hang curtains as well as decorations for the holiday. This is the time of year people in Trinidad purchase major appliances.

Christmas day meals generally consist of ham, turkey, apples, grapes, pastelles (which are like tamales), and ginger beer.

Madagascar

In Madagascar, Christmastime is warm. Even though the temperature is not like we’re used to, Madagascans still decorate with winter-like accoutrements like holly and faux snow.

Madagascans give gifts for Christmas, but not to the extent we do in the US. They spend a lot of time in Church on Christmas. Their services begin at 5:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve and don’t end until midnight. Then they go to service again in the morning. After church the children pass out sweets and biscuits to everyone.

Czech Republic

Folks in the Czech Republic celebrate Christmas on December 5 rather than the 25th.

People will fast from eating during the day on Christmas Eve in hopes that they will see a vision of the “golden pig” on the wall before dinner is served.

The traditional Czech Christmas Eve meal consists of fish soup, fried carp, and potato salad.

Jezisek (Little Jesus) brings gifts to the children while they are eating and they are opened after dinner. An old Czech superstition states that if someone throws a show over their shoulder on Christmas Day and it lands with the toe pointing toward the door, they will be married soon.

Egypt

The small amount of Egyptians who celebrate Christmas do so on January 7.

For the month leading up to Christmas, the Christian people sing special songs on Saturday nights in praise. They also spend the Advent season eating no animal products. This practice is called the “Holy Nativity Fast”.

On Christmas Eve (Jan 6), they attend mass starting about 10:00 pm and continuing until to as late as 4:00 am.

They eat large meals on Christmas Day with their family and friends. Just as in the United States, although it is a religious holiday, many people celebrate secularly as well.

Holland

Holland is another country that celebrates Christmas on December 5. This is the day Sinterklass brings presents to the children and hides them in their shoes. He comes to town wearing a red robe along with his servants who help him deliver toys to the children.

Many of the US Christmas traditions are based on the Dutch celebration.

Gabe Arnold
Author: Gabe Arnold