Its that time of the year again when the only words on everyone’s lips are Christmas celebrations. We all know Christmas is celebrated to remember the birth of Christ but the traditions that surround the celebrations differ from country to country. To some it’s all about Christmas food, raising Christmas Trees , Christmas Decorations, Christmas carols and to others, it’s just about Christmas ornaments. Unlike other people, travelers are always looking for the best Christmas destination or just a perfect Christmas town. But before we dive into the Christmas traditions around the world, here are some of the Christmas facts you should know.
Who celebrates Christmas?
Christmas is majorly celebrated by Christian countries or basically people who believe in Christ but it has also become a popular holiday celebration even among the non-Christians.
When was Jesus born?
Though the exact date of the birth of Jesus is still unknown as it is not written anywhere in the gospel, it is believed that Christ was born in between 4 BC and 6 BC. Scholars believe that Jesus might have been born during wintertime and that is why the date 25 December was chosen to remember his birth.
Read more: Date of birth of Jesus
Christmas traditions around the world.
American Christmas traditions | Christmas in the USA
Fun Christmas Traditions in America
By Peter at Dirty Santa gift ideas
Americans love Christmas so much that we celebrate it even outside our family circle, with a twist. House parties with friends and office holiday parties often feature a silly gift exchange game called White Elephant (or Dirty Santa or Yankee Swap, depending on the region). Everyone brings a cheap gift, usually under $10 or $20, depending on the company. Players then exchange gifts following a set of Dirty Santa game rules rather than keep the gift you receive, you steal great gifts from other participants—and they from you. Players choose gifts and can steal others’ gifts, often multiple times, until all the gifts are opened. In some variations of the game you take a number out of a hat and pick the gift that way, with all the stealing following.
The key to a great Dirty Santa gift exchange is to bring a funny but weird gift that other players would want. Gag gifts are particularly effective. Watching people squirm when they get stuck with a weird gift or panic after someone stole a great gift from them is the best part of the game.
Washington DC Christmas
By Maggie at Pink caddy travelogue
Newyork City may get all of the attention when it comes to celebrating Christmas in the United States, but Washington, DC should not be overlooked. The country’s capital city goes all out during the holiday season and offers a variety of ways for people to celebrate Christmas.
One tradition is the lighting of both the National Christmas Tree and the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree (yes, DC has 2 official Christmas trees!). The National Christmas tree, located near the White House grounds, is surrounded by 50+ mini trees, one for each of the states and territories. Everyone enjoys finding their state’s tree and seeing how it’s been decorated.
Each year, the White House staff elaborately decorate with dozens of trees, lights, fresh pine garland, and a gingerbread replica of the People’s House. Free public tours are offered during the Christmas season, but you must get tickets 3 months in advance.
The most reverent Christmas tradition is the annual performance of The Messiah at the National Cathedral. Handel wrote his masterpiece to be performed in just such a place. Hearing the Hallelujah Chorus jubilantly sung under the soaring arches of the Cathedral will give you goosebumps.
Read more: Christmas in Washington Dc
Christmas in Eugene, Oregon
By Hannah at Bold destinations.
Eugene, Oregon is a city of 168,916 people. It is famous for the University of Oregon, Prefontaine, Nike, and The US Olympic Track and Field Trials. What some people don’t know is that it has a huge hippie community. The city is full of holiday-spirited, creative and unique people.
The Holiday Season starts with the opening of the Christmas Market at the Eugene Fairgrounds. The market is a warmer and sheltered version of the traditional Saturday outdoor market. The difference is that there are more vendors as well as special holiday crafts.
The Christmas market includes live music, both holiday-themed and not, food vendors selling proper meals as well as vendors selling produce, and crafts and art vendors.
The greatest Christmas tradition in Eugene is going to the Holiday Market, grabbing a hot chocolate from a local coffee shop, then head to the neighborhoods to watch Christmas lights. The whole city lights up for the holidays but the best neighborhood is North Gilham by the Neighborhood Elementary School. Eugene is a small and simple town but it is a family-friendly and a great community to share some holiday spirit and be together for the holidays.
Read more : Bold destinations.
Christmas traditions in Spain| Christmas in Spain.
By Amber at With Husband in Tow
What makes Catalonia, Spain, really unique is the holiday tradition of Caga Tió. Each Catalan home has a little wood log, with a happy painted face on it. In the days leading up to Christmas, children feed Caga Tió fruits and nuts. On Christmas Eve, they sing a traditional song, beat him with a stick, and then in return, Caga Tió poops little presents, including sweets such as chocolates or turron, a nougat.
During December, many shops in Girona sell Caga Tió, so these smiling poop logs are on display all over town. In fact, there are no real Santa displays or even Christmas trees as the Christmas tradition in Catalonia is to celebrate the Three Wise Men, and of course, they celebrate with the Caga Tió.
Christmas Traditions in Austria| Christmas in Austria
By Helene at Masala Herb
Christmas is celebrated the traditional way in the Austrian Alps. The celebrations start early with the Advent period. We prepare an advent wreath with candles to light before Christmas and the kids have their Christmas calendars ready so that they can open a new window with a hidden treat every single day up-to-the Christmas day.
People love to visit the local Austria Christmas markets, to enjoy a cup of hot Glühwein with friends, to listen to Christmas songs or watch Christmas plays organized by local artist groups. Each home prepares Christmas cookies such as Vanillekipferl, Cinnamon stars, Lebkuchen among others. Cookies are exchanged and shared with family friends and neighbors. Saint Nikolaus and the “Perchten” demons of the mountains come to visit the good and bad kids on the 5th and 6th December and depending on your heavenly records you either get chocolate, nuts, and oranges or a good whipping. Christmas day is celebrated on the 24th evening when Baby Jesus is born.
Christmas Traditions in the UK | Christmas in the UK
Christmas in Dorking, Uk
By Clare at Epic Road Rides.
Dorking is a small town in the Surrey Hills area south of London in the UK. It has a wonderful array of small, independent, boutique shops. One of the main shopping areas is West Street. It’s lined with ancient buildings and is home to many of the town’s antiques and home furnishing shops. At Christmas time, the shop windows are adorned with an array of red, green and gold Christmas decorations. Also, small Christmas trees are placed in special holders situated above the shop windows. The trees are lit with twinkly white lights. It’s an unusual sight that lends a traditional and classy air to the street.
One of the Christmas traditions in Dorking is to hold an annual Christmas festival. West Street and the High Street are closed to traffic. Stallholders line the road, selling everything from Christmas gifts to mince pies and tacky flashing lightsabers. There’s music from local schools and choirs, a Santa race and fairground attractions too. In previous years this event has always taken place one evening in late November. This year the festival was held on a Sunday afternoon – the earlier start time ensured a fantastic family-friendly atmosphere.
Christmas Traditions in South Africa | Christmas in South Africa
By Campbell & Alya at Stingy Nomads
Christmas in Cape Town is far from the traditional white Christmas that you usually see in the movies and what most people are used to. Christmas in South Africa is in the middle of summer; it’s hot and sunny but it doesn’t mean you don’t get traditional Christmas trees and lights – the city is well decorated and the holiday vibe is all over the place. For most Capetonians, a traditional Christmas holiday is a beach holiday – all small beach towns around Cape Town get very busy; if you’re planning to spend December in Cape Town make sure to book accommodation in advance.
The great thing about celebrating Christmas in Cape Town is that there are many outdoor things you can do during the holiday like kitesurfing, surfing, rock climbing, paragliding, diving, and many others.
Like in many other countries, Christmas in South Africa is a family holiday – family members gather on Christmas Eve for lunch and give each other presents. There are several South African traditional dishes that are usually on the Christmas table like roast beef, leg of lamb, malva pudding and trifle pudding with coins in it (for children). If you want to have Christmas in summer, enjoy nice weather, visit a safari park or try new outdoor activities, Cape Town is the place to be.
Christmas Traditions in Romania | Christmas in Romania
By Iuliana at Authentic Travels
Besides Easter, Christmas is one of the most important national and religious celebrations in Romania. Traditionally, Romanians celebrate Christmas Eve and the first day of Christmas with their families – singing Christmas Carols, eating delicious food, and enjoying presents.
In Sibiu area and also throughout Romania, a pig is slaughtered on the 20th December, for St. Ignat. This happens mostly in rural areas, where people still have households, animals, and local customs are more preserved than in cities or towns.
Sibiu and its surroundings are perfect to witness the local Christmas traditions from both Saxon and Romanian communities. Saxons settled in the south-eastern part of Transylvania 800 years ago and they have a different mentality, traditions, and customs than Romanians who have lived in the area too. Coming to Sibiu, one can discover the Saxon villages centered around fortified churches as well as Romanian villages that form the Mărginimea Sibiului chain – a sequence of 18 traditional Romanian settlements tucked away at the foot of the mountains.
Additionally, Sibiu always has a colorful and animated Christmas Fair set up in the Large Square of the historic center. The smell of mulled wine and various sausages prepared from the “Christmas pig ” – slaughtered every year in December) paired with local pickles are the perfect Romanian food for the cold winters we experience here in Sibiu.
Read more: Aunthentic Travels
Christmas Traditions in Poland | Christmas in Poland
By Dominika at Sunday in Wonderland.
The Polish Christmas Eve supper traditionally consists of 12 vegetarian and fish dishes. Usually such as a carp, beetroot soup or dumplings and kutia or kek fruit cake as a dessert. The Christmas table always includes one extra plate for a stray traveler and below the tablecloth, you can find some hay that symbolizes the presence of Jesus, newborn in a stable.
After supper, children can finally dive below the Christmas tree. They find presents there and give them to all family members.
The tradition of an evening watch in a church is still alive in Poland. Lots of people go out to visit the nearest temple and assist a midnight Mass. It’s an opportunity to meet neighbors, wish them everything the best and sing Christmas carols together.
Read more : Sunday in Wonderland
Christmas Traditions in Bavaria | Christmas in Bavaria.
By Bradley at Dream Big Travel Far
If you’re looking for where to go for Christmas, I would highly recommend Fussen. Located in the deep south of Bavaria, this region is world-renowned for its incredibly festive atmosphere. And it is this Bavarian theme upon which the best worldwide Christmas markets are celebrated. So, why Fussen?
Well, this small quaint town lies just on the doorstep of arguably Europe’s most fascinating sight: Neuschwanstein Castle. This is famously the world’s most grandiose castle and is what Disney castles are based on. You can visit the castle and catch a snowy horse and carriage ride up the hill to the main gates. At which point you are greeted with spectacular views for miles.
Christmas in Bavaria is typically enjoyed by drinking mulled wine and eating hot Bavarian foods. My favorite being currywurst … Yum! You can also partake in gift-giving around the Christmas tree, buying gifts at Christmas markets and visiting the church on Christmas Eve. At this time of year, there’s a good chance you’ll be surrounded by heaps of snow. So be sure to stock up on wood for the fire.
Read more : How to spend a week in Bavaria
Christmas traditions in Ukraine| Ukrainian Christmas
By Jim and Inna at Executive Thrillseekers
Ukraine has a little bit different traditions than countries in Western Europe: Ukrainians don’t celebrate European Christmas that is on the 25th of December. Instead, they have a huge fest 6 days later – for New Year which is celebrated from the night of 31st December till the morning of 1st January.
Why doesn’t Ukraine celebrate Christmas?
- During the times of the Soviet Union, which Ukraine was a part of, any manifestation of religion was forbidden by the authorities. Christmas, too, as a religious holiday was not celebrated. But people had a need to celebrate something so in 1935, the government decided to start celebrating the New Year.
- Nowadays, when people are free to do whatever they want, some people opt to celebrate Christmas, but on the 7th January instead of the 25 December. That’s because the main religion is Orthodox Christianity that follows a different religious calendar.
So how do Ukrainians celebrate? New Year is the most cheerful and beloved holiday by many: people decorate Christmas trees and their homes, exchange presents, go out for parties or spend time with family.
The cities get decorated in advance before the celebration, streets, and parks get illuminated by lights which creates a great mood.
Most of the people plan how to spend the New Year in advance and there is no set way to celebrate it: some choose to spend it with family, some go abroad to tropical countries, some go to do winter sports, others go to clubs or throw crazy parties. Many people prefer to stay at their home cities, as every city has events like concerts or Christmas markets, and also fireworks. People grab bottles of champagne, go outside, mingle with others and celebrate all together!
There are at least a dozen Ukrainian foods that are especially popular to cook for New Year, but the most common is Olivier salad. It is usually made with diced boiled potatoes, carrots, pickled cucumbers, eggs, boiled chicken (or sometimes ham) dressed with mayonnaise.
The New Year is followed by the longest vacation time (around 5 days) which is necessary for some people to recover after the celebration.
Read more: Executive Thrillseeker
Christmas Traditions in Canada | Christmas in Canada
By Paige at That Blonde Bikini Girl
Not only is Calgary considered the sunniest city in Canada receiving over 300+ days of sunshine, but also one of the best places to spend Christmas because of the endless “white wonderland” effect of the snowfall received each year. Some of the Christmas traditions in Canada are decorating Christmas trees and exchanging gifts mostly among family members.
If you’re heading to Calgary, here’s what you need to know to make certain you don’t miss any of the action happening around the holiday season.
Planning a trip to Banff during the holiday season is a must. Banff is considered to be one of the most beautiful & touristic destinations across Canada and luckily it’s only a 1-hour drive away! Located in a National Park, it’s a community of old historic buildings, cottages, and scenic views not to mention surrounded by the famous Rocky Mountains. You will be sure to feel like you have escaped to the North Pole with the Christmas decorations and activities they put up each year!
Tip: If you have the resources, do not miss the Buffet breakfast at The Fairmount on Sundays for Brunch! Around the holiday’s its extra special with signature Christmassy items.
Read more: That Blonde Bikini Girl
These are some of the ways Christmas is celebrated in the different parts of the world. Do you celebrate Christmas differently in your country? Share with me in the comment section some of the Christmas traditions in your country, and if you enjoyed this post, don’t forget to share it.
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