Celebrating Christmas: Traditions Around the World


If you celebrate Christmas, you’re probably familiar with traditions like Santa Claus, tree trimming, gift swapping, and cookie baking. Although these are among the most popular ways to celebrate this holiday, many cultures around the world have their own traditions. Here’s a list of five unique ways Christmas is celebrated in different countries.

Giant Lantern Festival in the Philippines

This is held annually on the Saturday before Christmas Eve in the city of San Fernando – appropriately nicknamed the “Christmas Capitol of the Philippines.” Eleven different villages take part in this event by competing to build the most elaborate lantern using a variety of colorful materials. Once complete, each lantern is illuminated by electric bulbs that create bold and eye-catching kaleidoscope patterns that draw crowds from across the country and world.

La Befana in Italy

Much like how children around the world eagerly anticipate the arrival of Santa Claus on Christmas Eve, Italians celebrate the arrival of La Befana – a kind witch who travels by broomstick during the night on January 5th to leave gifts for children who have been good during the year. Children leave out stockings and shoes for her to fill with candy and presents, and on January 6th, families celebrate her arrival by attending church and eating traditional foods like panettone.

Peace Apples in China

Peace apples, or pingguo, is believed to have stemmed from how similar this Chinese word sounds to pinganye, the word for Christmas Eve. These apples are individually packaged and wrapped in colorful paper or small boxes with messages like “Merry Christmas” written on them. They’re commonly purchased by young men as gifts for their girlfriends. In case you’re feeling inspired to give the gift of fruit this Christmas, we have a few ideas you might like.

Beach Picnics in Australia

During Christmas time, Australians enjoy fun in the sun thanks to their location in the southern hemisphere. They take advantage of the warm weather by joining in Christmas picnics organized by various churches during the weeks leading up to the holiday. Friends and family often gather for some quality time at the beach singing Christmas carols about kangaroos, or “six white boomers,” pulling Santa’s sleigh and swapping out mentions of “snow” for “sand.”

BBQs in South Africa

Much like Australia, Christmas Day in South Africa is spent doing summer activities due to the warm climate during that time of year. People typically celebrate this holiday by gathering with family and friends for a braii, or barbecue. Many do, however, still attend Christmas Mass and attend Christmas concerts during this time of year.

Although Christmas is celebrated all over the world in many ways, each tradition holds a common theme: coming together to spend time with the people who matter most. Looking for a way to make your Christmas celebrations even sweeter? Give us a call. We’d love to help you out!