Christmas is a special holiday for many around the world. The Christmas holiday for some begins in November, for others December 24th or January 6th or 7th. Despite the differences in dates and practices it is a special time for family and friends around the world. Have you ever wanted to travel to see how Christmas is spent in other countries? You might be surprised by the similarities. However, in some places Christmas is not allowed to be celebrated. Enjoy the glimpse of Christmas around the world from A to Z.
Armenia-Christmas is January 6. People fast during the week leading up to Christmas Eve in order to receive the Eucharist on a “pure” stomach. On Christmas families eat whole shelled walnuts threaded on a string and encased in grape jelly. Brazil-Christmas Eve is the most important day. At midnight on December 24 the churches celebrate the “Missa do Galo” or the rooster’s mass. Canada-Mince pies, plum pudding, Christmas cake, roast turkey, stuffing, potatoes and winter vegetables are served. Mummers Plays are performed in the street, house-to-house visits and in public houses. Denmark-December 24, Yule evening is a feast. The rice pudding contains chopped peeled almonds, and a single whole peeled almond. Whoever finds the whole almond will have good luck for the coming year, and the finder gets a small gift. Egypt-Because of the time the Holy Family spent in Egypt with the infant Jesus, Christmas is celebrated on January 7th by a midnight service in the church, bell ringing, and travel to various churches that are considered to have been on the route of the Holy Family as they traveled through Egypt.
France-Christmas is celebrated with mass, fairs, decorations and carols and children put their shoes by the fireplace or under the Christmas tree so Father Christmas can give them gifts. Germany-On St. Nicholas’ Day, Dec. 6th he puts goodies in children’s shoes. The Christmas tree is decorated on the 24th some families attend a midnight church service after the evening meal and gift-giving. Hong Kong-Christmas trees are decorated and some people attend mass. Iceland-Christmas is a thirteen-day celebration beginning on December 24, at 6:00 PM. church bells ring, holiday dinner is served and children decorate the tree on December 23 and presents are put under it. Japan-Christmas in Japan may have started in 1549. Christianity was banned in 1612. In the 1970s eating at KFC at Christmas became a national custom, gifts are exchanged, trees are decorated, and couples spend time together.
Kuwait-Many gather around a Christmas bonfire to sing carols in native dialects before the church service. After church services they meet at restaurants. Latvia-Christmas is on December 25 and closely associated with the pagan solstice. Trees are hung with ornaments of straw, a Yule log is dragged around the house, a feast is held and mummers dance and sing. Malta-Christmas is a religious holiday. People eat honey rings and nativity scenes are popular. Nigeria-On Christmas Eve various meats in large quantities are prepared. Gift giving is money and gifts from the more prosperous to the less fortunate. Oman-People clean their houses and decorate them, they visit each other, dress in new clothes, send cards to each other, burn firecrackers, bake cookies, dance and sing songs about the baby Jesus.
Pakistan-December 25th is known as Big Day or Great Day, the birthday of Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan. Christians sing carols at houses; money is collected and given to charity. Artificial stars are hung on roof tops. Qatar-Christmas begins with midnight mass, lavish dinner is held, gifts exchanged, with music and dance. Romania-Christmas starts on November 30, on Saint Andrew’s day and ends on January 7 with the celebration of Saint John. Other holidays are Great Union Day, Saint Nicholas day, Saint Ignatius day, Christmas eve, Christmas Day, Saint Stephen day, New Year’s Eve and the Epiphany. Sweden-Christmas begins on Advent, St. Lucia Day then Christmas Eve, Epiphany January 6, and Hilarymas January 13 ends Christmas season with feasts, plundering the tree for sweets and throwing the tree out (the window). Trinidad– Christmas was first observed in Trinidad in 1569. Today it combines the end of year merriment with the coming Carnival season.
United Kingdom-Christmas starts at Advent it lasts until 6 January (Epiphany) it is considered bad luck to have Christmas decorations up after this date. Venezuela-Christmas is celebrated as a religious occasion; presents are brought to children by Baby Jesus. Wales-Caroling and mummers are popular. Christmas service lasts from 4 a.m. until the rising of the sun on Christmas morning. Xinjiang-In 2006 a Christian house church leader was arrested prior to Christmas. It was thought this was done to deter holding any Christmas celebrations. Yemen-On Christmas Eve there is an all night service that features worship, a bonfire, caroling and a touch of peace by the Bishop. Zimbabwe-Christmas day starts with a church service followed by parties in the homes. People visit family and friends for food and festivities.
Christmas is celebrated from A to Z throughout the world with family, food, fun, friends and festivities combined with religious services remembering the reason for the holiday. These are only some of the many Christmas holiday festivities taking place around the world. Please add your holiday traditions in the comments section below. Happy holiday!