Christmas is celebrated in many different ways all over the world. There are so many traditions to discover from the food we eat, to how people spend their time over this festive holiday period.
Many people in Chile go to special church services for nine days before Christmas, and often have small nativity scenes in their homes, as well as Christmas trees and decorative lights. The main celebration is on Christmas Eve when families will come together for a big meal in the evening. Families and friends enjoy sharing food including barbecues and different meats, a fruity Christmas cake, called ‘Pan de Pascua’, and a popular drink made from liqueur, coffee, milk, sugar, spiced with cloves and cinnamon, called ‘Cola de Mono’, which means Monkey’s Tail!
Christmas starts early in Croatia – on the 25th November which is Saint Catherine’s Day. Most people in Croatia are Catholic, so the lead up to Christmas, known as Advent, is very important to them. It is traditional to make advent wreaths, symbolising endlessness, from evergreen twigs or straw, with four candles representing different parts of life – hope, peace, joy and love.
Many people in America have moved there from different countries around the world, bringing their own unique customs with them – this means Christmas is celebrated differently in different parts of America, depending on your own religion and where someone may originally have come from.
If you lived in New York, you might celebrate by going ice-skating in Central Park, and feeding the reindeers carrots. Or you might visit the enormous Christmas Tree, displayed at the Rockefeller Centre from late November. Another popular tradition is to have your own Christmas tree at home, decorating it with homemade garlands, made from threading together popcorn, bay leaves and dried cranberries.
On Christmas Eve, mums and dads traditionally exchange gifts and go out for a dinner date together, on their own, without their children. New Year is more important than Christmas Day in Japan. In fact, Christmas Day is not actually an official holiday so grown ups are expected to go to work, unless they choose to take the day off as a holiday. The bigger celebrations at New Year include going to a bonenkai party – or ‘year forgetting parties’. This is a party that goes on late into the night, and is a way of celebrating that it is now a new year and time to leave last year’s troubles behind and look forward with hope.
December in New Zealand is very hot, and many people choose to celebrate by having barbecue parties with their families on the beach! An old Maori way of cooking food is to cook a hangi, a basket of meat and vegetables that are lowered gently into the ground over hot stones to cook the food slowly. Cooking this way at Christmas is a way to honour the Maori traditions and remember the past.
Christmas starts on 8th December in Spain, a public holiday when everyone has the day off. It is a Holy Day, focussing on the the special circumstances in which Mary, Jesus’ mum, was born. Christmas Eve, called Nochebuena, is very important in Spain, and families come together to share food and celebrate throughout the evening, often leaving the house just before midnight to attend a special church service to celebrate the birth of baby Jesus.
Christmas Markets, called Weihnachtsmärkte, are very popular in Germany where they originated, although they are now popular in other countries too. They are a fun way to spend time with family and friends, buying Christmas gifts and eating special Christmas food such as stollen cake, a fruit bread, and drinking warm wine called Glühwein. Another important part of the festive season in some parts of Germany is Saint Nikolaus’ Day on 6th December. This is an opportunity to carry out a secret good deed, in honour of Saint Nikolaus’ memory.
What are you and your family’s favourite ways to celebrate Christmas? We’d love to hear from you, let us know!
Our Christmas box will help you and your child discover more about how Christmas is celebrated in different parts of the world. Perfect for building excitement in time for Christmas 2020! Find out more here.