Christmas Traditions Around the World

This festive season we are exploring Christmas traditions across the world to see how other countries celebrate. In our research we have included England, Poland, Columbia, Italy, India, Portugal, Germany, Australia and Ukraine.

Christmas in England

An English Christmas has many traditions. The carols we sing leading up to Christmas tell the story of the birth of Jesus.  King Henry VIII decided to swap out his traditional goose for a turkey on Christmas day with many of us still enjoying a turkey Christmas dinner. At 3pm on Christmas Day people settle down to watch the King’s Speech on the television.  Many homes display a decorated Christmas tree with one of the most famous trees, a gift given by Norway to the UK, proudly displayed in Trafalgar Square, a tradition that started as a token of goodwill after the second world war.  Merry Christmas

Christmas in Poland

In Poland on Christmas Eve a feast known as Wigilia begins as the first star appears in the sky. An extra place is set for an ‘unexpected guest’, 12 courses are served in memory of the 12 Apostles.  Fish is a main part of dishes as no meat is eaten on 24 December. Wesołych Świąt!

Christmas in Columbia

Columbians celebrate Las Novenas in the nine days leading up to Christmas and the children receive their gifts from El Niño Dios rather than Father Christmas. A favourite Christmas eve snack is buñuelos while tamales are eaten on Christmas Day. Feliz Navidad! 

Christmas in Italy

Shepherds in traditional sheepskin and woollen cloaks with peaked hats, come down from their mountain homes playing their zampognas (bagpipes). The Befana is an old woman or good witch who delivers gifts to children on the eve of 5 January (Epiphany Eve). Buon Natale.

Christmas in India

Christians in India decorate mango or banana trees at Christmas time. They also decorate their houses with mango leaves as the mango tree is considered sacred. In some parts of India people put small oil burning clay lamps on the flat roofs of their homes to show their neighbours that Jesus is the light of the world. Favourite seasonal sweet treats include plum cake and kul kuls.

Christmas in Portugal

In Portugal Pai Natal (Father Christmas) brings gifts to the children on Christmas Eve rather than Christmas Day. Pai Natal leaves the presents in shoes by the fireplace or under the Christmas tree.  The traditional Christmas Eve meal Consoada’, consists of salted cod or oct0pus, green vegetables, boiled potatoes and boiled eggs. Feliz Natal

Christmas in Germany

Christmas in Germany starts with an advent wreath or ‘Advent Kranz’ a ring of fir branches that has four candles on it, a candle is lit at the start of each week in Advent. The Christmas tree or Tannenbaum is traditionally put up and decorated on Christmas Eve with gifts being opened that evening. Frohe Weihnachten!

Christmas in Australia

Australian Christmas is hot as it’s during their summer. Some families decorate their houses with bunches of ‘Christmas Bush’, a native Australian tree whose leaves turn from cream to a deep red over the summer. On Boxing Day many people go and visit their friends and often have barbecues at the beach. Merry Christmas!

Christmas in Ukraine

Traditionally, Christmas in Ukraine starts on January 6 and lasts until January 19.  Though many Ukrainians are celebrating Christmas on 25 December. Christmas Eve is marked by traditional family gatherings  and the Holy Dinner or Sviata Vecheria.  Houses are decorated with ‘didukh’ (a sheaf of wheat stalks) that symbolizes ancestors’ spirits.  щасливого Різдва