Christmas is celebrated on Christmas Day, 25 December. However, some countries have slightly different Christmas traditions and as such the festive season lasts for a longer period from early December to early January. Lets update you with how Christmas is celebrated all over the world.
In Sweden, Finland, and Norway, St. Lucia’s Day is a special part of the Christmas season that commemorates a woman who is said to be one of the first Christian martyrs. Celebrations include candlelight processions, in which the eldest girl of each family dresses up like Saint Lucia in a white gown, often carrying a wreath with candles. The girls would also serve S-shaped Lucia buns and coffee or mulled wine to the family.
In Italy, a nativity scene, a ‘presep’, is usually placed in churches, town squares, and often in homes. This is the most important part of the Christmas decorations.
The nativity scene, originally displayed with a cradle filled with straw, originally stemmed from Italy and is now a common occurrence in many countries around the world. In Italy, ‘Babbo Natale’, called Father Christmas in Italian, gives gifts to children on Christmas Day. Still in many families, gifts are exchanged only on January 6 which is the day of Epiphany. In Italy, people wish each other ‘Bun Natale’ i.e ‘Merry Christmas’.
You won’t find snow and freezing temperatures in Australia during Christmas. Instead, you’ll see locals celebrating their summer vacation and hitting the beaches. Santa Claus is also sometimes depicted in warm weather clothing, including an Akubra hat. Classic ornaments such as wreaths, lights and trees are still common in Australia.
Christmas celebrations in England are a bit different from other places and it is more about decorating the house and the Christmas tree, collecting presents, baking cookies and then having a grand feast with the family. Because the weather is cold and gloomy during this time, people spread Christmas cheer by singing carols and going door to door. Usually children do this and in return the owner gives them cookies to eat. Christmas is also a time to visit friends and family and people make sure that they spend it with their loved ones.
Christmas isn’t nearly as commercialized in Spain as it is in other Western countries, but the country has many unique traditions. Lights are hung and trees are put up, but the most important decoration is the nativity scene featuring Cagner. Caganer literally means “crapper” and is usually a man defecating with his pants down. This tradition may seem strange to some, but it is a symbol of a good harvest and is the centerpiece of nativity scenes.
In Germany, you can do your Christmas shopping with mulled wine in one hand and a bratwurst in the other at festive outdoor markets. Huge seasonal markets pop up all over the country with artisans selling gifts for everyone. You can send Christmas gifts to your friends and family as a token of love.
The Portuguese celebrate Christmas on 24 December. Homes are decorated for Christmas and many families put up a nativity scene where baby Jesus is added to the crib after the family has attended midnight Mass. Children remove their shoes for Baby Jesus, not Santa, and gifts are exchanged after attending a Christmas service on Christmas Eve. In some towns and villages, the community then gather around a fire in the church car park which is lit and wish each other ‘Feliz Natal’. Christmas markets are not so common in Portugal, however, the capital city Lisbon is known for its giant artificial tree which is lit up with thousands of green lights.
Christmas cards are sent to friends, family and many people you no longer see. These days it is considered best to use charity cards on a large scale or homemade cards for small children. A Christmas tree and a few decorations are common, and there is a growing trend for people to widely light up their homes and what many see as dazzling lights. Send your friends and family christmas tokens and express love to each other. Merry Christmas!