Unique Christmas Traditions from Around the World

Updated on January 5, 2017
Christmas is the best time of the year for millions of kids and adults across the globe
Christmas is the best time of the year for millions of kids and adults across the globe

Christmas is the best time of the year. It does not matter what country you live in – this holiday is always filled with that special atmosphere of joy, happiness, family unity and love people feel from childhood. Christmas traditions differ from one country to another, because they are the reflection of the local culture, religion and customs of this or that country. The only thing that unites them is the actual symbolic meaning of the holiday. On this day, people around the world celebrate a special occasion - the birth of Jesus Christ. This holiday is traditionally celebrated on December 25, but some countries have unique traditions, customs and festivities that stand out from the crowd. If you are interested in the unique Christmas traditions from around the world, keep reading the article to find them out.

One of the nativity scenes displayed in Italy
One of the nativity scenes displayed in Italy

1. Italy

Buon Natale! This is how “Merry Christmas” sounds in the Italian language. Although, the holiday is celebrated on Christmas 25, there are still many families, which have got used to exchanging gifts on January 6. This day is known as “Epiphany” and it is also celebrated with joy and versatile festivities. On this day, Santa Claus (whose name is Babbo Natale in Italy) gives presents to the kids and wishes them a happy holiday. Traditionally, the Italians decorate their homes, show windows, churches and even squares with the world-known “nativity scenes”, which display the baby Christ in the straw crib with his parents and the Magi around him.

2. France

Christmas in France is also traditionally celebrated on December 25. This is the day, when the families get together and exchange the presents. However, in some regions of the country, Christmas preparations start since December 6. This day is known as St. Nicolas Day, which brings joy to children, who get small presents and treats. Since this day, people start decorating their homes and getting ready for the holiday. A nice tradition is associated with kids, who polish their shoes and put them near the chimneys, waiting for Père Noël (French Santa Claus) to fill them with candies and other treats. This tradition is similar to that in the US, but shoes are used here instead of the Christmas stockings.

European countries look stunning on Christmas!
European countries look stunning on Christmas!

3. Germany

Germany is known all over the world due to the Christmas markets that are organized in the majority of squares in different cities. People also decorate their homes with garlands, lights and festive ornaments. This is done several weeks before the holiday, but Christmas trees are decorated on the Christmas Eve, namely, on December 24. This is also the day, when the majority of Christmas festivities start. What’s interesting, almost all the shops are closed early on this day, which means that people should take care of the presents well in advance.

4. Great Britain

Just like the majority of European countries, Great Britain celebrates Christmas on December 25. There are lots of traditions and customs associated with the holiday in this country. People start decorating their homes with festive ornaments and sparkling lights around 2-3 weeks before the Christmas Day. One of the most popular traditions is associated with charity. Having decorated their homes, many families invite visitors to have a look at their Christmas displays. They also put the so-called “honesty boxes” there, where people leave money. The donations are further transferred to the charity needs.

People have fun and spend much time together on Christmas
People have fun and spend much time together on Christmas

5. Australia

Christmas in Australia differs a lot from that in lots of other countries of the world. This is because the country is located in another hemisphere of the planet and the holiday is celebrated in summer there. It is close to impossible to imagine Christmas without snow and all the winter festivities associated with the holiday, but the Australians have already got used to it. Most families organize picnics and gather on the beach near the ocean to… sing Christmas carols and exchange presents! That’s really unusual, isn’t it?

6. The USA

Most Christmas traditions and customs have come to the world from the USA, where the holiday is celebrated on December 25-26. People start decorating homes and Christmas trees several weeks before the holiday. The preparations generally start from the Thanksgiving Day, which is celebrated at the end of November. People write and send Christmas cards to their families and friends. Children impatiently wait for Santa Claus, who brings them presents on the Christmas Day. December 26 is known as the Boxing Day in the US. This is the day, when people visit each other, giving presents and exchanging the best wishes.

These are only several Christmas traditions that make the holiday unique and memorable in many countries. These traditions and customs create that special atmosphere of warmth and happiness, which is always associated with Christmas – one of the favorite holidays of kids and adults across the globe. Merry Christmas!

Questions & Answers

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      • alekdo profile imageAUTHOR

        Aleksey Donets 

        20 months ago from Cherkassy, Ukraine

        That's interesting, indeed! I'm gonna look for this info on the web)

      • CYong74 profile image

        Kuan Leong Yong 

        20 months ago from Singapore

        Alekdo: Maybe the Italians do their exchanges on Epiphany to emulate the offering of gifts to Christ by the Three Wise Men.

      • alekdo profile imageAUTHOR

        Aleksey Donets 

        20 months ago from Cherkassy, Ukraine

        MsDora, I'm not sure, Santa and Jesus share the same popularity on Christmas. Have you researched that fact? Jesus is popular moslty with Christians, who celebrate his birth on Christmas, while Santa is a favorite Christmas character in most cultures. The only thing is that Santa has different names in various countries, but I don't think he can be compared to Jesus. Or am I mistaken?

      • alekdo profile imageAUTHOR

        Aleksey Donets 

        20 months ago from Cherkassy, Ukraine

        CYong74, to tell the truth, I was surprised to find out that info as well. I thought, they exhange gifts on Christmas only - just like other Europeans do)

      • MsDora profile image

        Dora Weithers 

        20 months ago from The Caribbean

        Good information. I think I like the celebration in France since St.Nick's Day makes it easy to differentiate between St.Nick and Jesus; not like other countries where Santa and Jesus share their popularity on Christmas Day.

      • CYong74 profile image

        Kuan Leong Yong 

        20 months ago from Singapore

        Very interesting to read. I have no idea Italians exchanges gifts on Epiphany.

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