Christmas Around The World

Here in America, we hold many Christmas traditions, such as sending Christmas cards, decorating our houses with lights, wreaths, and garland, and leaving cookies and milk out for Santa, however, Christmas is celebrated differently in other parts of the world. Read below to see what Christmas might be like in a other places around the world.


A very unique tradition celebrated in Switzerland is the Advent calendars. Rather than opening a window on a paper or plastic Advent calendar, the windows of actual houses in these towns are used to symbolize the passing of each day. During the “opening” of that window, the house hosts a party where friends get together. Sausages, bread, and hot mulled wine are typically served.

Children receive a visit from Samichlaus, the Swiss German version of St. Nicolas, and his partner Schmutzli. This typically happens on Dec. 6; however the duo can arrive anytime as they travel through the village on a donkey. When Samichlaus knocks on the a “naughty” child’s door, they must recite a poem to ensure that they are worthy of receiving gifts. The “nice” children receive tangerines, nuts, gingerbread, and other treats.

Christmas trees are decorated and cut on Dec. 24. In Switzerland, this often requires manual labor; taking a ski lift or hike to the best location, pushing away the piles of snow, sawing it down, and dragging it back to their house. The tree is then decorated with real candles.


In Spain, Christmas is a holiday celebrated from Dec. 24 to Jan. 6. Christmas originated as a religious holiday, but many who do not embrace any religion still take part in the festivities!

On Dec. 24, families gather to eat many exquisite delicacies together. The night continues with midnight mass, Christmas carols, and gift opening for the children. On Christmas day, parks and plazas are filled with children playing with their friends and showing off their new toys.

While Christmas Eve is typically a family celebration, New Year’s Eve is meant to be a time spent with friends. Fiestas are thrown and gathering are hosted, all waiting for the clock to strive twelve.

Jan. 5 and 6 conclude this wonderful time of holiday celebration. Jan. 6 is the Day of the Kings. Children receive most of their gifts on this day from the Kings.


Because Ethiopia still uses the old Julian calendar, Christmas is celebrated on Jan. 7. In the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Christmas is called Ganna.

On Christmas day, Ganna mass begins at 4 a.m. At the service, candles are distributed and participants walk around the church three times in a solemn procession.

Christmas continues for twelve days until Jan. 19 because of Timket or Epiphany. On this occasion, children walk in a ceremonial parade. Music for the parade is played on the sistrum, a rattle like instrument shaped like a pear.  

Food served during Christmas time typically includes dora wat, a thick, spicy stew of meat, injera, a sourdough pancake bread typically cooked over an open fire, vegetables, and eggs.

Gift giving is a very small part of the Christmas celebration. Children may receive a very simple present, such as clothing or a small toy.

As you can see, Christmas is celebrated very differently in other parts of the world, whether it means serving different food or celebrating on a completely different day!

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