How is Christmas Celebrated Around the World?

12/20/18

Child takes selfie with Santa

It’s the holiday season. Of all the holidays that are celebrated in different areas on the planet, Christmas is one that many different countries and cultures take part in each December.

Christians celebrate Christmas to commemorate the birth of Christ, but even those who are not religious join in the celebrations. Though it’s officially celebrated on December 25, some countries have traditions and festivities that mark the occasion throughout the month. Here is just a sample of how other countries celebrate the holiday in their own special way.

Ukraine – Since the Ukraine uses the Julian calendar for church festivals, Christmas Eve is celebrated on January 6, with Christmas Day on January 7. After an all-day fast on Christmas Eve, a meal of twelve dishes is eaten as soon as the first light appears in the sky. Children receive their presents earlier in the month on December 19, when St. Nicholas makes his rounds. Christmas is also when many people, particularly children, go from one house to another singing traditional Christmas carols as a way to spread holiday wishes and spirit. They are gifted with money and sweets for their carols, similar to Halloween tradition in United States.

China – Though the Christian population in China is only around 1 percent, many celebrate commercially by decorating the streets and employing department store Santa Clauses in larger cities. In China, “Santa is known as ‘Sheng dan lao ren’ [meaning] Old Christmas Man,” according to whychristmas.com. Christmas Eve traditions include passing out apples as a sign of peace, and those who are Christian head out to midnight mass.

Indonesia – Although the majority of the population is Muslim, “about 10% of the population are Christians – that’s still about 20 million people!” Christmas in Indonesia is highly celebrated and full of American traditions like Christmas trees, carols, and concerts, cookies, and presents delivered by “Sinterklass.” And the most popular holiday movie broadcast on Indonesian TV? Home Alone.

Christmas tree and lights

Finland – With a northern location that’s in close proximity to where Santa Claus lives, Christmas is a three-day celebration. On Christmas Eve, big meals are eaten early, after which -some head to the cemetery to visit the graves of loved ones. Others are lucky enough to get a home visit from Santa Claus himself. After that, Christmas Day is spent relaxing, and the day after (Boxing Day) is for going out.

South Africa – With a location in the southern hemisphere, Christmas is a summer celebration filled with flowers, family, and fun. Celebrations include barbecues, games, and maybe even a swim. Many partake in the singing of carols on Christmas Eve, and attend Christmas morning church services. And children anxiously await the arrival of Santa Clause to fill their stockings.

Celebrating Christmas at the beach

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