Christmas Customs Around the World

Image of Santa Christmas figures around a globe
Teach your family Christmas traditions from around the world.

Learning about Christmas customs around the world can help you and your family gain an appreciation for your heritage and the cultures of those around you.

Ways to Celebrate Christmas Customs Around The World

With the great number of diverse cultures present in the United States, it is no wonder that a lot of people are interested in Christmas traditions around the world. Holiday celebrations can vary widely from place to place; even within the United States there are numerous ways to celebrate.

School children may often have an educational unit on holidays and customs from around the world. They may learn holiday recipes, how to say Merry Christmas in different languages, and the historical origins of the December celebration.

Your own family can learn to appreciate global Christmas customs as well. You may want to emphasize traditions from a recent family vacation to Italy; or perhaps your child has a foreign exchange student in his or her classroom from Germany. Christmas is also a great time to delve into a bit of genealogy and find out customs from your ancestors' countries.

Celebrate Christmas around the world by:

  • Having a "themed" Christmas tree each year. You could choose to make it a "Holidays Around the World" theme, or focus on one part of the world to concentrate on, like Mexico.
  • Host a "12 Days of Christmas" themed dinner party, with a holiday dish from 12 different regions.
  • Look up Christmas Eve and Christmas Day customs online or at the library and incorporate them into your own holiday activities.
  • Ask your grandparents or great-grandparents to tell you about traditions that were passed down to them from their grandparents.

Take a lot of photos of your "worldly" Christmas celebration and put them into a scrapbook. As you make your way around the world, keep a world map at the back of the book and mark off each region with the year after you celebrate their traditions.

Christmas Customs

Even the most extensive list cannot contain every custom from each country in the world. In fact, holiday practices within one country can vary widely, depending on each family's traditions and their geographic location within that country.

To get started, here are some quick Christmas facts from a few countries around the world.

Christmas in Argentina

Christmas in Argentina is often celebrated by attending church with family members. After midnight, adults may dance while children and younger people watch fireworks. A large feast is often prepared for Christmas Day, and it may include barbeque, as the weather is often warm during the holiday. Sidra, a form of cider, is often included in the feast.

Christmas in Canada

Canadians have holiday celebrations similar to those common in the United States. However, several provinces have traditions of their own. In Nova Scotia, belsnicklers will come to homes for the 12 days before Christmas, seeking candy and singing songs. They are also called masked mummers, and once a person guesses their true identity, they must remove their masks. Labrador traditions include giving a turnip with a lighted candle inside to children.

Christmas in Mexico

One part of Mexican Christmas traditions includes Los Posadas, which can mean "inn". Children carrying figures of Joseph and Mary and leading a procession go to various homes in a neighborhood, asking to be let in, each night for the nine days before Christmas. They are turned away at the majority of the homes until at last, they are finally invited in. Once inside, everyone celebrates with food and drink, and children may break piñatas.

Christmas in Sweden

Swedish holiday celebrations often begin with Saint Lucia Day, December 13. A young girl who is dressed in a white robe and red sash, wearing a wreath of candles upon her head, will take food and drink to her parents or others in her group. She is often accompanied by young boys in pointed hats. Trees are usually not put up until just a few days before the 25th.

Further Christmas Custom Research

To learn more about a country's Christmas traditions, visit your local library, especially around the holidays. They may have a special collection brought out during the month of December, highlighting cultural celebrations.

You can also get further information on Christmas customs around the world at the following websites and articles:

After learning about various cultural Christmas celebrations, test your knowledge by taking the Christmas Customs Around the World quiz.

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Christmas Customs Around the World