Have you ever thought of Christmas traditions around the world? It’s pretty cool to see how a religious celebration can be infused with cultural food and traditional activities. Even Santa Claus and his outfit might be different than what you are used to.
Every country has unique traditions influenced by so much rich history. It is especially interesting to look at how a country’s geography and climate impact the festivities.
1. Japan. In Japan, the holiday is typically seen as a day of happiness and romance, not religion. Many couples even celebrate the day like an American Valentine’s Day. To top it off, as the Huffington Post points out, a traditional Japanese Christmas dinner is KFC fried chicken. You even have to make a reservation if you want to score a bucket on Christmas day.
2. Finland. The Finnish Christmas season starts on the First Advent, which falls on the first Sunday in December. Children in Finland use advent calendars to count down the days until Christmas. Celebrations usually last until two weeks past the actual holiday.
3. Great Britain. While many British Christmas traditions have been adopted by Americans, there are still many differences. Children place their stockings at the foot of their beds, hoping it will be filled with treats. Paper crowns are just as popular as Santa hats. And then there’s Boxing Day on Dec. 26, a popular shopping day for Brits.
4. Russia. Russian Christmas tradition calls for two celebrations — once on Dec. 25 and again on Jan. 7. Dinner on this day features 12 different dishes to represent the 12 apostles. It’s usually meatless and full of bread, honey, and veggies. Christmas Day usually calls for a main course of meat. As for Santa? His name is Ded Moroz, which translates to “Grandfather Frost.”
5. Australia. Australian Christmas traditions are full of beaches, palm trees, and sunshine. Christmas dinner usually involves seafood like prawns and lobsters. Caroling is especially popular, starting a week before Christmas Day.
6. Brazil. A Brazilian Christmas dinner is full of Portuguese dishes, rice, nuts, and fruits. Turkey and codfish are the popular meats of choice. Decorations usually roll out in November or earlier. Furthermore, people take part in a gift-swapping tradition called “amigo secreto.” It’s the Brazilian version of — you guessed it — Secret Santa.
7. India. In India, Christians decorate mango and banana trees. And like most Indian traditions, Christmas celebrations are lively and colorful. Indian Christmas traditions also call for tons of sweets. Trading Christmas gifts isn’t common, though. Instead, everyone fuels up on delicious food and brings treats to their friends and neighbors. Awesome.
8. Philippines. If you thought decor in November was intense, just wait until you learn about the Philippines. Filipinos start celebrating Christmas in September and stop in January. Extravagant decor is a must. Many homes hang up parols, which are lights made of bamboo and paper. A nine-day celebration also takes place (Simbang Gabi) leading up to Christmas Eve. This night, also known as Noche Buena, calls for a huge family celebration with lots of food.
9. Jamaica. Christmas in Jamaica is full of happiness and joy. On Christmas Eve, every town hosts a “Grand Market” event. This celebration is equal parts festival and market, featuring a medley of shopping, eating, and dancing. A parade called Jonkanoo also takes place. Often, people continue to celebrate at a midnight mass. As for dinner? A typical Jamaican Christmas dinner will include foods like rice, oxtail, chicken, curry goat, roast ham, and rum-soaked fruit cake.