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Celebrating Christmas Around the World

Updated on September 4, 2014

Christmas Around the World

Children around the world love the Christmas season.
Children around the world love the Christmas season. | Source

Celebrating Christmas

Christmas around the world is such an exciting theme as there are so many different countries on our wonderful planet and it's fun to learn how other countries celebrate this special time of year.I have taught this subject every Christmas for the past 15 years. Each year it's fascinating to watch the young children light up as we learn about a new country and one of it's holiday customs or traditions. I choose different countries each year so that I approach the season with a fresh excitement to learn and share with the children, and my family. With this article, we will go around the globe and focus on different cultures and their custom of celebrating Christmas.

Many people celebrate Christmas on December 25 as the birth of Jesus. We will not focus on the possibilities of this being accurate as there is controversy surrounding the exact date, but long ago people held festivals at this time of year hoping that winter would end. It was a festive time and gifts would be exchanged as well as gathering around feasts. Eventually the church officials chose this date. Not everyone celebrates Christmas as a Christian holiday and celebrate cultural traditions such as Saint Nicholas Day or Saint Lucia Day.

Let's begin our journey around the world. Having these 'teacher genes' working with me, we're going in alphabetical order, although not representing each letter, but covering a diverse group of traditions and customs starting with the country's greeting.

Christmas Around the World

Swarovski Annual Edition 2014 Crystal Snowflake Ornament

Greetings and Customs Around the World


Greeting: Happy Christmas or Merry Christmas
Custom: It is celebrated during their summer and the weather is warm. They may spend Christmas with a picnic at the beach or a bbq in their backyard eating little cakes called lamingtons.

Bolivia (South America)

Greeting: Feliz Navidad which means Happy Nativity
Custom: Bolivian children leave shoes and stockings out to receive presents from El nino Jesus. They leave a clay figure of what they would like next to a figure of Jesus in their family's nativity scene.

Christmas in France


Greeting: Merry Christmas or Joyeux Noel (Quebec)
Custom: In Eastern Canada they receive barley toys and chicken bones in their stockings. A barley toy is a red or yellow hard candy on a stick. A chicken bone is a cinnamon stick. (Yum!)


Greeting: Melkm Ganna (Wishing You a Happy Christmas)
Custom: Ethiopians observe Christmas on January 7 and celebrate Timkat (Christ's baptism) on January 19. Timkat last for three days and on the first day the priests collect church scrolls of the Ten Commandments and carry them to tents where people come to pray.


Greeting: Joyeux Noel (Joyous Christmas)
Custom: How about thirteen desserts on Christmas Eve? In southern France, they serve a dessert to honor Jesus and the twelve apostles. One of these desserts is the Yule log which is a cake to represent the actual yule log which many people burn in their homes from Christmas Day until New Years Day for good luck.


Greeting: Kala Christouyena (Merry Christmas)
Custom: Greek children go from house to house singing Christmas carols on Christmas Day. They play instruments such as drums, harmonicas and triangles. Sometimes people will give them treats such as cookies, candy or coins.


Greeting: Gledileg Jol (Merry Christmas)
Custom: Icelandic children will decorate their homes with Christmas pockets and little stairs for the elves which they believe visit their homes from December 12 through December 24. The elves leave gifts in their shoes.

The Spirit of Christmas - Michael W. Smith and Friends

The Spirit Of Christmas
The Spirit Of Christmas
A beautiful Christmas album of carols and holiday favorites featuring Vince Gill, Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town, Martina McBride, Amy Grant, Carrie Underwood, Jennifer Nettles, Bono and Michael McDonald.


Greeting: Meri Kurisumasu (Merry Christmas)
Custom: They serve beautiful cakes on Christmas Eve decorated with white frosting, strawberries and holiday ornaments. The children will find gifts from Santa Kurohsu or Hoteiosho under their evergreen trees decorated with tiny candles, dolls, wind chimes and gold paper fans.


Greeting: Meelad Majeed (Birth Glorious)
Custom: Lebanese children grow sprout shoots from wheat grains, lentils or bean sprouts starting a month before Christmas. When the sprouts are three to six inches high, they decorate their homes and manger scenes with the shoots. At midnight on Christmas Eve, Baby Jesus will be placed into the manger and bells ring announcing the anniversary of Christ's birth.


Greeting: Eku Odum Ebi Jesu (Happy Celebration on the birth of Jesus Christ)
Custom: They decorate palm trees and hang palm branches both inside and outside their homes. The palm branches represent peace and are a symbol of Christmas. They may light sparklers and dress in costume at Christmastime.


Greeting: Maligayang Pasko (Merry Christmas)
Custom: On December 16 the bells ring at 4:00 A.M. to announce the first mass of the Christmas season. They decorate with parols which are three dimension stars made out of paper which they can hang on their Christmas trees. Some people spend months making them to hold in parades on Christmas Eve and prizes are given for the best parols.


Greeting: C Rodzhestvom Kristovom (with the birth of Christ)
Custom: The Russian Orthodox Christmas is celebrated on January 7. A meatless dinner is served with the most important dish being a special porridge called kutya. It is made of berries, wheat or other grains to symbolize immortality, honey and poppy seeds are added to ensure happiness and success. It is eaten from a common bowl to symbolize unity.

United States

Greeting: Merry Christmas
Custom: The traditional celebration is on December 25 observing the birth of Jesus Christ. Many families have long held customs of decorating evergreen trees with ornaments and tinsel to represent light. On Christmas Eve there are candle- lit ceremonies in churches and each person carries a small candle home to represent the ever-lasting light. There are so many different customs as there are many different nationalities of peoples in the US. Children enjoy opening presents on Christmas Day and it is a time of family gatherings with feasts
and merriment.


Greeting: Feliz Navidad (Happy Nativity)
Custom: The celebration begins on December 16 with daily early morning masses through December 24. Families gather on December 24 to formally celebrate Christmas after mass. They gather for the traditional feast which includes hallaca, tamales, pan de jamon and dulce de lechoza which is a dessert made with green papaya and brown sugar. It is cooked for hours and then served cold. Children receive gifts from Baby Jesus.

The Magic of Christmas

Clara observing the Christmas decorations
Clara observing the Christmas decorations | Source

Celebrating Christmas With Family and Friends

Christmastime is a special time of year however it is celebrated. It is a time of joy, love, forgiveness, remembrance, reflection, fun, feasting, spending time together with family and hopefully also with friends and those that may need a friend.

I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round, as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. ~Charles Dickens

Enjoy the season. Merry Christmas means love in every language.

Nu Zijt Wellekome - A Dutch Christmas Song

Do You Have a Favorite Christmas Tradition?

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    • rebekahELLE profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Tampa Bay

      Thanks Blackspaniel. It's fun to see how other countries celebrate. There are so many interesting customs for this time of year. Thanks for reading!

    • Blackspaniel1 profile image


      5 years ago

      You have a nice assortment of countries and customs here.

    • princesswithapen profile image


      8 years ago


      I have been in a couple of countries that you have mentioned in this hub during Christmas time. It is interesting how this period is all about winter, snow flakes and more for some people while countries like Australia would be in the middle of summer. It is a different feeling all together! I like this hub because it shows how different countries and cultures have their own unique way to celebrate Christmas.


    • rebekahELLE profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Tampa Bay

      Thanks Alicia! I'm so glad you enjoyed the hub. It's fun learning about the different customs. It's a small world after all comes to mind.

      Twilight, thanks for reading and sharing! Maybe I'll add a bit more to this one or write an additional one to link to this one. I do have much more info!

      Those lamingtons must be good to consider being a slave. lol I wondered if everyone goes to the beach! We've had some warm Christmas days here in Florida also, but there's always a big traditional dinner on the table.

      Thanks and have a fabulous new year!

    • Twilight Lawns profile image

      Twilight Lawns 

      9 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K.

      A superb hub, Rebekah. I wished it had gone on for much longer... And what memories! Lamingtons. Anybody who will make me a Lamington like the ones I had in Australia, and I will be his or her slave for life.

      Mind you, I've eaten a full "English" Christmas dinner with all the trimmings in the middle of a heatwave... not everybody goes to the beach on that day.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      9 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This is a lovely hub. I wish I had discovered it closer to Christmas! I enjoyed learning about Christmas celebrations around the world and watching the videos.

    • profile image


      9 years ago


    • rebekahELLE profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Tampa Bay

      thanks oscillationatend. it's a groovy kind of world, isn't it?? :]

    • oscillationatend profile image


      10 years ago from a recovering narcissist.

      Australia's sounds nice. I had no idea Nigeria and Ethopia have been converted. Japan, too, seems...different, but sounds neat.

    • rebekahELLE profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Tampa Bay

      Thank you General for the beautiful greeting~

      Merry Christmas to all. you are wonderful. :)

    • GeneralHowitzer profile image

      Gener Geminiano 

      10 years ago from Land of Salt, Philippines

      Wow great Hub... Maligayang Pasko Reb... :)

    • rebekahELLE profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Tampa Bay

      :D thank you for such nice comments!

      thank you sweet Maita. :) wishing you also a wonderful holiday season.

    • prettydarkhorse profile image


      10 years ago from US

      hi, this is a nice one. Christmas is for everyone, most of all it is for children. I love looking at the Christmas trees around the globe. I am glad to know what is happening at Christmas all over the world!

      Merry xmas to you Rebekah,


    • IslandVoice profile image

      Sylvia Van Velzer 

      10 years ago from Hawaii

      Really lovely! Christmas is my favorite time of the year!

    • rebekahELLE profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Tampa Bay

      thank you! that's wonderful to read. I do remember making christmas crackers and crowns with the children at school.

      The kids loved it! We wrapped small pieces of holiday fabric around a toilet tissue roll and tied ends together with ribbon. of course, there was candy inside. we even laid them next to their christmas meal at school one year and they wore their crowns! so much fun. thank you for sharing. :)

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Well we usually make it a family affair with parents etc coming over for Xmas Dinner which is of course Turkey, ham, roast potatoes, brussel sprouts. Then a drink of wine and pulling crackers, wearing the silly hats.

      Best is Xmas Eve leaving the kids pressies round the tree and then watching them open them on Xmas Day. We usually have our Xmas Meal about 3pm for some reason but tis tradition. Plus all the shops close on Xmas Day, Boxing Day here in the UK is mostly sport as all the Premier teams play each other and the big horse racing event takes place, I sometimes would go to an Irish League soccer game just to get out of the house.

      We usually put our tree up 1st December and don't take it down until 10 days after Xmas as tis meant to be bad luck if you take it down sooner. Hope that helps ; )

    • rebekahELLE profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Tampa Bay

      thank you darlin, can you share with us one of your country's customs? would love to have it here since I could not include all countries! :)

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      That was a brilliantly thought out idea for a Hub, loved it, well done and Merry Xmas ; )

    • rebekahELLE profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Tampa Bay

      thank you Carmen and emievil. it really is fascinating to see that most countries do celebrate at this time of year in some manner. Being together as family and friends is the common thread throughout all cultures and celebrating. thanks you for stopping by. :)

    • emievil profile image


      10 years ago from Philippines

      Thanks for featuring my country in your hub. The simbang gabi or dawn mass is really a big tradition for us. In fact, some of us make it a point to complete the nine days of dawn mass (from Dec. 16 to 24), imagine that. Then we also have this tradition of going house to house during Christmas day to visit friends, families, loved ones, godparents (who try to hide from us so they don't give us our gifts LOL). It's truly a fun day for us.

    • Carmen Borthwick profile image

      Carmen Borthwick 

      10 years ago from Maple Ridge, B.C.

      Great hub rebekahELLE. The tradition in our house is having Christmas dinner on Boxing Day [Canada]. It began when the kids were little, didn't seem fair to make them sit down for dinner when they were too excited with gifts from Santa. My 19 yr old son actually called today to ask if that was the case this year. Thanks for all the wonderful information on different cultures.

    • rebekahELLE profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Tampa Bay

      Thanks Veroncia, I had wanted to write on this subject anyway and when I saw the HubMob theme yesterday, I was excited to start writing. It kind of brings the world closer together, doesn't it? thanks for stopping by and commenting. :)

    • Veronica Allen profile image

      Veronica Allen 

      10 years ago from Georgia

      This was very interesting rebekkahELLE. I've always been fascinated by the backgrounds of the holidays - where they orginated and why they are celebrated. This look into how and why various cultures choose to commemorate this day is very eye-opening. Thank you for all the research you put into this hub. It made for an interesting and educational read.


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