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Christmas Traditions Near and Far

Christmas is a holiday celebrated around the world by people of all kinds of backgrounds and cultures. The most important parts of Christmas are universal, and celebrated by everyone: love, kindness, and time spent with loved ones. While everyone who celebrates makes sure to center kindness and family time, different cultures worldwide have different traditions that make the holiday special. Here are a few ways Christmas is celebrated across the globe.

Germany- Christkind and Advent Calendars

In Germany, the Christmas season begins by opening the first door on Advent calendars on December 1st. The calendars are filled with chocolates or small gifts and count down the days until Christmas. On Christmas Eve, Christkind, a celestial being similar to an angel, delivers gifts to children.

Mexico- Posadas and Piñatas

In Mexico, the nine nights leading up to Christmas Eve are marked by Posadas, representing the journey of Mary and Joseph seeking shelter. Families go from house to house, reenacting the journey and asking for lodging. Piñatas, filled with candies, get broken open during the celebration.

Italy- La Befana and Feast of the Seven Fishes:

In Italy, the Christmas witch, La Befana, takes center stage on January 6th. Legend has it that she delivers gifts to children on Epiphany Eve. Additionally, on Christmas Eve, many Italians celebrate the Feast of the Seven Fishes, a sumptuous meal featuring—you guessed it—seven different seafood dishes.

Japan- KFC and Cake

Christmas is not a national holiday in Japan, but it has gained popularity for romantic outings and gift-giving. A quirky tradition involves ordering KFC for Christmas dinner, thanks to a successful marketing campaign. People in Japan often have Christmas cake in December to celebrate the holiday.

South Africa- Braai (Barbecue) and Beach Celebrations

Families often gather for a Christmas Day braai or barbecue in South Africa, where Christmas coincides with summer. Beach outings and picnics are typical, providing a unique twist to the traditional winter-centric Christmas celebrations.

Sweden- Saint Lucia’s Day and Julbord

In Sweden, Christmas celebrations start on December 13th with Saint Lucia’s Day. Saint Lucia is associated with light. To celebrate,  a young girl is chosen to portray Lucia, and wears a crown of candles. For Christmas Eve, families get together for a traditional Julbord, a Christmas buffet featuring herring, salmon, bread, and cheese.

Christmas Traditions Near and Far

United States- Christmas cards

In the US, it’s common to send out Christmas cards to family and friends. People will often send holiday cards with family photos, or a summary of what everyone in the family did that year. It’s a great way to keep in touch with loved ones near and far.

Christmas traditions around the world show the beauty of diversity, and emphasize the common threads of love and togetherness that everyone focuses on during the holiday season. Maybe you’ll be inspired to celebrate a new tradition this year. However you celebrate, whatever you celebrate, may your holiday season be filled with joy and laughter.



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