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Christmas Traditions Around the World.

We talk a lot about family traditions around this time of year, but what about cultural traditions? Though Christmas is a holiday all around the world, it isn’t a cookie-cutter celebration. The way Christmas is celebrated, or not celebrated, is different between countries. While a lot of the basics are there, every country seems to have their own way of celebrating Christmas. As I read about the traditions in different countries, I could just feel my adventurous spirit getting excited. Maybe one day I’ll be able to experience at least some of the different Christmas traditions around the world.


While not celebrated on Christmas day, St. Lucia’s Day is the beginning of Christmas celebrations in Sweden and a few other countries. In this tradition, a young girl is chosen to represent Saint Lucia, a Christian Martyr. She dresses in a white gown and a wreath of candles, symbolizing the Light of Jesus coming into the world. She then leads a procession of other girls and boys, all dressed in white, as they sing songs.

On a more personal level, one girl in each family, usually the eldest dresses in the St. Lucia costume and serves coffee and baked goods to her family.

I read about this tradition as a kid and for some reason, it has always stuck with me. The imagery of a young girl bathed in the glow of candles that shine from her crown, as she walks in the dark of night. My memory of this tradition is actually what prompted me to even write this post.


In Japan, Christmas is not generally celebrated as a religious or family holiday, but a romantic one. Instead of gathering around a Christmas tree exchanging present with their family, couples will go on special dates.

Another Christmas in Japan? Eating Kentucky Fried Chicken, apparently. Also cake.

I knew about Christmas being a romantic holiday in Japan before, but I didn’t know about the KFC thing until I researched for this article. How is the KFC tradition not shown in anime? I feel like that would be something hilarious to add, but that’s just my opinion.


I’m sure you’ve heard about this next holiday, but I think it’s so cool I had to include it.

In Iceland there is a holiday called Jolabokaflod. That word translates to Christmas Book Flood. On Christmas Eve, Icelanders will gift books and then spend the evening reading. A holiday that encourages reading? That’s any book lover’s dream holiday.

Another Christmas tradition in Iceland is celebrating 13 Days of Christmas. Children will place their shoes on windowsills to receive goodies from thirteen different Yule Lads.


Since Australia is in the Southern Hemisphere, it’s summertime during the month of December. So how do they get in the Christmas spirit? By going to the beach, of course!

Beach Day is one way Aussies celebrate Christmas. Really, who can blame them? Not me. Instead of snow, Australians will spend the day amid the white sands, building castles and surfing. Another not surprising tradition? They barbecue.

One cool thing about it being summertime for Christmas? You’re not freezing as you watch the holiday parade. I may be in the minority, but I’d rather be too hot than too cold while sitting outside enjoying a parade…or anything, really.

Something I do find slightly weird is that Aussie’s celebrate with seafood. I’m not saying I wouldn’t be down for it, because I would be the first in line, at least in my family.


Interestingly enough, Christmas, called Bada Din, in India is a national holiday. It is celebrated not only as a religious holiday but also a cultural one with participation from Hindu, Muslims, and Christians alike. Rooftops and houses are decorated with clay lamps, much like the Hindu festival of Diwali. Apparently there is also a lot of food involved, too. There is also caroling, decorated Christmas trees, and gifts exchanged like in the Western countries.

I’ll admit, I was surprised to discover Christmas was celebrated in India, especially on such a wide scale. I was expecting something more along the lines of Japan’s Christmas celebrations. I find it really cool that there’s such a big impact in India.


One of my favorite Christmas traditions is going to parks or driving around neighborhoods to see all the Christmas lights and decorations. From the sounds of it, none of the Christmas displays I’ve seen can compare to what goes on in the Philippines.

Giant paper lanterns are a major part of the Christmas holiday in this country. The most honored lantern is in the shape of the Star of Bethlehem. I’m not talking about a tiny string of them, either, but a giant star shaped paper lantern.

Along with these paper lantern displays, there are parades, parties, and concerts in the weeks leading up to Christmas. I’m gonna say it, Filipinos know how to party.

Do you know of any other Christmas traditions found around the world?

Which one is your favorite? Have you had the opportunity to experience them in person?

Let me know in the comments!

Happy Sunday!!

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