Although we may all have varying traditions, backgrounds, and fruitcake recipes, for those who celebrate Christmas in the United States, the holiday is almost always filled with caroling, cookies, and Christmas trees, among other festivities. Yet the joy of the season is spectacularly global as little children everywhere eagerly await to open presents on the Big Day and those of faith cherish the true meaning of Christmas. If you’ve ever wondered if Santa Claus makes it to Brussels or if Australians really do celebrate by throwing some “shrimp on the Barbie,” here’s your opportunity to learn a few of the ways people all around the world revel this time of year.
Although Christmas is not a public holiday in China, it is becoming increasingly popular as are many Western traditions. A Christmas tree in front of the National Stadium is decorated and illuminated each year on Christmas Eve for all to enjoy. Other traditional Christmas decorations such as holly, wreaths, red ribbons, and bells can be found strategically around the city – particularly in American stores. In fact, thanks to the power of advertising, many families in Beijing enjoy KFC on Christmas day. Well that’s one way to avoid your mother-in-law’s cooking!
Don’t tell kids in the United States, but children in Belgium get TWO Christmas visitors! On December 6, St. Nicholas Day, Saint Nicholas visits and brings presents. Then little ones get additional gifts on Christmas day from Santa Claus. No word yet on if Elf on the Shelf is a hit here or, for that matter, anywhere else around the world.
While we are dreaming of a White Christmas, the people of Australia are dreaming of the perfect tan and enjoying summertime. In fact, because the holiday falls during the warm season, it is quite popular to go camping during the holiday season! Natives decorate their homes with lights and trees just as we do, however they also decorate bunches of Christmas Bush. The Australian tree has small green leaves and cream-colored flowers that turn red in summer, so it naturally looks festive. Each state capital has a gorgeous “Carols by Candlelight” service where talented performers sing favorite holiday carols.
Germans often find themselves in a pickle on Christmas Day – in a good way! One very popular tradition is to hide a pickle in the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve. The first child to discover it on Christmas morning gets a special gift. Also, instead of leaving stockings for Santa, children leave a shoe outside their house on December 5. The children awake to find it filled with candy. Naughty children get a tree branch instead.
Move over North Pole! Rovaniemi, Finland is actually the official home of Santa Claus – and the natives are extremely proud of it! You can visit the Santa Claus Village in Lapland, Finland any day of the year. There you will cross the magical Arctic Circle and meet Father Christmas himself! After that, visitors enjoy a long sleigh ride journey through the woods with traditional Sami reindeer and learn more about Lapland’s native people. Talk about a Winter Wonderland! Although temperatures are usually very cold, the warm memories and fun traditions are enough to keep hearts toasty.
Christmas in Reykjavik is beyond magical, for children and adults alike, with its gorgeous winter landscape and plethora of traditions. Guests can absolutely walk through a Winter Wonderland here! Thousands of visitors each year journey to the Christmas Village in Hafnarfjordur and Reykjavik’s main Christmas Market in Ingolfstorg Square. There, they shop for unique holiday gifts and enjoy the Yuletide music. And for children, there are not just one, but 13 Santas, or “Yule Lads,” bearing gifts for a truly memorable time. It’s hard enough keeping the magic alive for one Santa, but 13! That must be tough when it’s time for parents to come clean.
Natives and travels alike enjoy the Rideau Canal Waterway in Ottawa, Canada, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, during the holidays. Full of lights and festivities, it is just one of the many Christmas traditions in Canada. With so many cultural backgrounds in the country, there are a wide array of traditions here such as a Taffy Pull” (a party for singles to meet) and “Sinck Tuck” (dancing and gift exchanges). As in the United States, some open gifts on Christmas Eve while others wait till Christmas Day.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
It is a gorgeous time of year in Brazil and the natives celebrate with gusto! Revelers enjoy fireworks
at the official Christmas tree lighting at Rodrigo de Freitas Lake and often dress like Santa Claus or with other holiday costumes. Elf costumes are quite popular too! In Brazil the children call Santa Claus “Papai Noel” and their favorite holiday foods include ham, turkey, chicken, pork, rice and dried fruits. Those foods sound a little like ours, but with the traditional Brazilian spices and cooking techniques, they are surely one-of-a-kind!
Mexicans love to celebrate Christmas and, for the most part, are traditionally spiritual. Not only do they Celebrate Christmas but the streets line with revelers at the “Three Kings Day” festival each year in Mexico City, as well. This Christian holiday in Mexico happens around Christmas time and specifically celebrates the Three Wise Men who brought gifts to baby Jesus. Gifts, great food, and music make this festival memorable and fun for people of all ages.
Celebrations and traditions in England are very similar to those in the United States, although there are a few differences. While holly and mistletoe are used as decorations, locals say “Happy Christmas” instead of “Merry Christmas” as we do in the states. Christmas pudding is also a very popular dessert. Before it is cooked, each member of the family is supposed to stir it clockwise and make a wish for the New Year. Additionally, instead of milk and cookies, the children in London often leave brandy and mince pies for Father Christmas.
Ethiopians celebrate Christmas on January 7 and celebrate by wearing all white clothes. The men traditionally play a game called ganna, which is a fast-paced game played with balls and sticks. The women cook a hearty meal for everyone to enjoy once the game has ended.
Although red and green are traditional Christmas colors here in the United States, that’s not the case in Japan. Japanese families send each other white Christmas cards. They avoid sending red ones as those are usually reserved for funeral announcements!
Nativity scenes are one of the biggest ways people celebrate in Italy. From churches to front porches, many people take pride in their elaborate nativity scenes. Some families display the cribs in their homes and place a baby Jesus in it on Christmas Eve. Meanwhile, downtown in Milan, The Vittorio Emanuele II Gallery is gorgeously decorated with Christmas lights.
Bondi Beach, Australia
The beach is the place to be on Christmas Day in Bondi Beach, Australia. This world famous tourist destination is just the spot for the annual Sunburnt Christmas Festival on Christmas Day. Each year over 4000 partygoers celebrate Christmas here with bikini contests, live music, DJs, and of course, the perfect Aussie BBQ lunch. After all, it’s summer time in these parts on December 25th.
Santa Claus doesn’t come to Russia, instead “Father Frost” brings presents to the children. During holiday festivals and celebrations that go all the way into the New Year, people often dress as Father Frost and Snow Maiden. They typically wear their costumes during the annual New Year’s parade in
Bishkek, Russia. The traditional greeting on New Year’s is “S Novym Godom.”
Whether you’re traveling the globe or enjoying the holidays right in your own living room, our apparel is just the thing to make the holidays a little brighter. You’re sure to make a statement from the Christmas party to Christmas brunch in these wardrobe must-haves. As always, our all over print apparel comes in both men and women’s sizes.
No matter where or how you celebrate the holidays, all of us at Yizzam hope you enjoy the season and have a very Happy New Year!