Whilst you’re tucking into your turkey, pulling a cracker and watching the Queen’s Speech, have you ever wondered how Christmas is celebrated in other countries? Is everyone else eagerly awaiting Santa and singing Christmas carols? Read on to find out how people celebrate Christmas around the world!
The majority of families in Spain eat their traditional Spanish Christmas meal on Christmas Eve before attending Midnight Mass. Just like in the UK, Papa Noel (Santa Claus to you and me!) brings gifts at night-time on Christmas Eve – although it’s likely to be just one gift as the Three Kings deliver gifts later in the festive season. Christmas is very much a time for family and celebration, and you’re sure to hear plenty of carols being sung and see homes being decorated.
In Barcelona, the Copa Nadal (Christmas Cup) annual 200 metre Christmas swimming race takes place in the chilly waters of the Old Harbour. This tradition dates back to 1907 with hundreds of brave swimmers taking part.
The festivities continue for quite some time in Spain with the celebration of Three Kings’ Day on 6th January. The event begins the night before with a procession of decorated floats travelling through towns to mark the arrival of the Three Kings, who throw sweets and treats to the kiddies!
Christmas begins on 6th December in Germany, which is St. Nicholas Day. The night before, children put a shoe or boot outside the front door, and it’s said that good children will receive sweets and chocolates… but twigs will be placed in the shoes or boots of naughty children! Christmas Eve is the main day for exchanging gifts with family and friends.
Christmas trees are very important – some homes will have more than one and trees can be seen glistening and glowing in all towns throughout the country. Of course they’re just as popular here, so be sure to check out our great range of Christmas trees at Wilko.com. Germany is also well known for its Christmas markets, where all kinds of food and gifts are sold.
King’s Day is also celebrated in Germany and many children dress up as kings and sing carols and folk songs. Some families will bake Three Kings bread (marking the end of the 12 days of Christmas), often with a hidden token inside… the lucky recipient of the token becomes a king or queen for the day!
Many Americans celebrate Christmas by exchanging gifts and enjoying a traditional roast turkey or ham, and some pumpkin pie. ‘Snap-dragon’ was a traditional game played in North America in which people tried to snatch raisins out of a bowl of burning brandy and then pop them into their mouths to extinguish them… sounds dangerous to us!
Christmas lights and decorations are very popular throughout America, and you’ll see plenty of impressive outdoor lighting displays. Christmas music and films are just as popular in America as they are in the UK. In South America Christmas falls in the summer season so celebrations are often held outdoors with parades and street parties to enjoy the good weather. We aren’t jealous… honest!
Santa delivers presents on Christmas Eve and children are sent to bed early after hanging their stockings on the fireplace, just like we do in the UK. We think the best present ever given in America is the Statue of Liberty, given to North America by France in 1886!
Although we only have one visit a year from Santa, in Finnish Lapland Santa can be met any day of the year at his office – and there’s even a theme park called Christmas Land!
Santa may also been known as ‘Joulupukki’ which means Christmas goat. There’s a traditional tale in Finland about a Christmas Goat, a scary character who asked people for presents. The goat later became the giver of gifts and was then replaced by Santa. A wise move in our opinion!
Homes in Finland are cleaned in preparation for Christmas, trees are decorated and cards exchanged to wish each other a ‘Hyvaa Joulua’ – Merry Christmas in Finnish.
Christmas is celebrated in many parts of Africa, with people decorating trees, shop fronts, homes and churches. On the West Coast of Africa the trees will most likely be oil palms decorated with bells. Christmas carols are sung, meats roasted and gifts exchanged.
In South Africa the beaches will be full of families celebrating with a BBQ and wearing Christmas hats. There’s very little chance of a white Christmas in Africa, unless of course you’re in Morocco’s Atlas Mountains – which even has a few ski resorts!
So maybe this year you’ll fancy trying a Christmas tradition from around the world? Be sure to watch out for the Christmas Goat though, and do be careful if you play a game of Snap–dragon!