Christmas is traditionally a time for celebration and festivity, and there are many vibrant and unique ways that people all around the globe celebrate Christmas. Christmas for me is all about the people and the joy it brings to so many, uniting everyone in a merry haze. But it can be a difficult time of year for some, for those missing family members or spending Christmas alone. So, a little extra thought for others over the Christmas period should always be had.
Here is a roundup of the most interesting and fun ways people celebrate Christmas all over the world.
People in the Philippines celebrate Christmas for five months.
Filipinos are known to celebrate the longest Yuletide season in the world, it lasts for almost half a year. Decorations start going up in September and paper lanterns called ‘parols’ are displayed. A large meal on Noche Buena (Christmas eve) is then eaten. Christianity became widely known in the Philippines in the 1500s due to missionaries from Portugal and Spain, so ‘Santa Klaus’ is around to spread the Christmas joy.
It’s a busy time for KFC in Japan.
In Japan, Christmas is known as more of a time to spread happiness rather than a religious celebration. Christmas eve is equivalent to USA/UK’s Valentine’s day and despite not being a national holiday, schools are closed on Christmas day. Perhaps the most unique tradition, is eating KFC and fried chicken on Christmas day, and the traditional Japanese Christmas cake, a sponge with strawberries and whipped cream.
Stocking and Crackers.
In the UK, we traditionally place stockings over the end of our beds or over the fireplace. A huge Christmas meal is eaten consisting of turkey, stuffing, pigs in blankets and tatties. Crackers are also pulled, paper tubes that ‘explode’ with a paper crown and toy inside.
One Christmas tradition in Poland involves keeping a fish in your bathtub.
Christmas in Poland is celebrated with gift-giving, church services and watching ‘Home Alone’. Carp is usually the main dish of Christmas Eve dinner in Poland, it’s tradition for the lady of the house to keep a live carp in the bath for a few days before Christmas then kill it herself before cooking. The scales the carp are considered good luck.
A fire burns to ward off evil spirits in Greece.
Greece is a maritime country and the Greeks traditionally decorate boats for Christmas. This custom survives today in seaside towns and islands. Being a primarily Orthodox nation, people often attend midnight church services and observe an Advent fast during the holidays. To keep off the evil spirits, ‘Kallikantzaroi’ a fire burns for the twelve days of Christmas; other traditions include unwrapping gifts brought by Saint Basil and carolling.
Christmas in the Ukraine is celebrated on January 7th.
Like many Orthodox countries, Ukraine uses the Julian calendar for their church festivals. This means Ukrainians celebrate on January 7th rather than December 25th. Their Christmas meal normally has 12 dishes which represent Jesus’ 12 disciples, and traditionally the dishes don’t include any meat, eggs or milk. The main dish is often ‘kutia’ a type of sweet porridge made of wheat.
Jamaicans enjoy a rum soaked cake.
Christmas in Jamaica is a time of non-stop celebration, shopping and festivals. Most towns host a Grand Market, a community fair packed with food and music, where a sweet ginger drink called sorrel is had and rum-soaked fruit cake is eaten.
Expect long holidays in Russia.
In Russia, home to 39% of the world’s Orthodox Christians, people enjoy more days off over Christmas than any other country in Europe, starting on New Year’s Day and carrying through to Orthodox Christmas day. During the Soviet era, the celebration of Christmas was banned, but after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 festivities were resumed.
Christmas in Australia = a barbie on the beach
If you’re dreaming of a white Christmas in Australia, you might have to wait until winter weather hits in July. Australians traditionally celebrate Christmas with a lunchtime barbeque on the beach, surrounded by friends and family playing cricket on the beach.
Kenya’s Christmas is all about family.
Kenyan families often travel from big cities to smaller villages to make sure the whole family gets together. Many attend midnight church services and indulge in a large Christmas meal, with chapati flat bread called ‘nyama choma’.