Christmas Traditions from Around the World

christmas photo

Christmas is a time of happiness and celebration across the world. Each country has unique customs and traditions for their own seasonal celebrations. We’re taking a look at some of our favourites.

At 3pm on 24th December (the main day for Christmas celebrations), everyone gathers around the tv to watch a Disney Christmas Special. ‘Kalle Anka och hans vänner önskar God Jul’ or ‘Donald Duck and His Friends Wish You a Merry Christmas’ premiered on Swedish tv in the early 60’s and has been one of the most important traditions since. Usually, it is the most wacthed tv show every year despite it often showing the same clips.


yule lads photo
Photo by Anosmia

A big Christmas custom in Iceland is the coming of the Jólasveinarnir, or Yule Lads, who come down from the mountains in the lead up to Christmas. There are 13 Yule Lads each with a visiting night as well as their parents Grýla and Leppalúði bloodthirsty trolls. Even scarier is their cat, a children eating terror, who you’ll fall prey to if you don’t wear a new item of clothing at Christmas. Each Yule Lad leaves something for children who place shoes in their windows. The scary 13 include Pottasleikir (Pot Licker), Ketkrókur (Meat Hooker), Gluggagægir (Window Peeper) and GáttaÞefur (Doorway Sniffer).


j-dag photo
Photo by kalleboo

At the end of November in Denmark, everyone celebrates J-dag or J-day. J-dag is the day the Christmas beers come out and the country gathers to go out and get drunk on seasonal beer!

In England, Boxing Day and New Years day have become days of strange activities. The Boxing Day dip in the freezing sea is a gaggle of shivering locals in fancy dress braving the cold waters of the British sea. There’s also often fun runs, quizzes and lots and lots of turkey sandwiches from Christmas dinner leftovers.

In Argentina globos light up the sky on Christmas Eve. The paper decorations with lights inside have become a beautiful Christmas tradition in Argentina and thousands float up in to the night sky. Globos are truly peaceful and aesthetically stunning seasonal celebration.

Lebanon                                                                                                                                                                The Lebanese typically plant lentils and wheat on 4th December every year so that by Christmas they’re growing beautifully. The harvests are kept close to the front of the nativity scene and the Christmas tree. Another tribute to Christ is Meghle. Meghle is made from rice powder and spices whenever there is a birth in the family. Since Christmas celebrates the birth of Christ, Meghle is made on a huge scale and decorated with dried fruits, nuts and coconut.

South Africa                                                                                                                                                     South African Christmas is in the height of summer heat. Flowers are in full bloom and country is a riot of colour. Many people celebrate by going camping and the schools are all closed. South Africa has many beautiful languages, and therefore lots of ways to say Merry Christmas. In Afrikaans its ‘Geseënde Kersfees’; in Zulu it’s ‘UKhisimusi omuhle’, in Sesotho it’s ‘Le be le keresemese e monate’ and in Xhosa it’s ‘Krismesi emnandi’.

Poland                                                                                                                                                                      In Poland Christmas dinner is busy. On the table there must be 12 dishes, wishing you good luck for the next 12 months. Traditionally, the meals are all meat free in remembrance of the animals who surrounded baby Jesus in the manger. Everyone must eat, or at least taste, each dish. One of the most important dishes is barszcz, beetroot soup, and its obligatory to have some. Other dishes include carp, uszka (dumbling with mushrooms) and krokiety (pancakes with mushrooms or cabage).


What’s your Christmas tradition? Let us know in the comments below.