Christmas Traditions from Around the World

Written by John Adams, Author of

With just a few weeks to go until Christmas, most people are focused on the holiday season. Like many families, we have a number of traditions that we stick to each year.

We have a Christmas tree, we have an Elf on the Shelf, and, typical of many British families, everything will come to a halt at 3pm on Christmas Day so we can watch the Queen’s annual Christmas speech to the nation.

In this post, I thought I’d highlight some interesting Christmas traditions from across the world. When you look into it, there are some amazing traditions. Some go to the heart of the Christmas message and are all about giving and charity, some are hilarious while others are just bizarre.

Christmas Gathering

The Ukrainian Christmas cobweb

This is one of those Christmas traditions that is about charity and thinking of the less well off. It comes from the Ukraine where many people decorate their Christmas trees with cobweb-like decorations that look like they are covered in shimmering dew.

According to a folk tale, a poor widow did not have the money to decorate the family Christmas tree one year. The spiders of the house took pity on her. They took it upon themselves to spin the most amazing webs all over the tree, which the children woke to find the next morning. To this day, many Ukrainian’s decorate their trees with web-like decorations.

The British Royal family give each other novelty gifts

What do you give the family that already has everything? This is the challenge faced by members of the British Royal family, so they’ve found a fantastic way of overcoming it: they give each other novelty gifts!

Prior to dating and marrying Meghan (Duchess of Sussex), Kate (Duchess of Cambridge) is rumoured to have presented Prince Harry with a ‘Grow your Own Girlfriend’ kit. Prince William, meanwhile, once gave the Queen a pair of slippers with her face emblazoned on them.

Meghan has also joined in with this tradition. She is supposed to have given Prince William a spoon with the words ‘Cereal Killer’ engraved on them, a gift that was apparently a huge hit with its recipient.

Of course, most of us have to take gift-giving a bit more seriously. Many people will be receiving tech items such as mobile phones, ear pods, and tablets. If you are giving any items like this, do also think about phone and tablet cases or cases for the ear pods.

Buckingham Palace

Venezuelans roller skating to Church

Residents of Caracas in Venezuela have one of the most fun Christmas traditions. When they attend Mass on Christmas morning, most of them go on roller skates. This tradition has become so popular that many of the city’s roads are closed from 8am to allow the roller skating faithful to get to church safely. It’s even said some children tie a lace from one of their roller skates around their big toe and leave the skate outside their bedroom wnidow so they can be woken with a gentle tug on the skate in the morning!

Radish carving in Mexico

Staying in Latin America for a moment, the people of the city of Oaxaca have a radish carving competition just before Christmas. It’s known as The Night of the Radishes and residents carve incredibly elaborate items, from Nativity scenes to frightening-looking monsters.

Competitors put a vast amount of effort into this competition. Not only do they make elaborate displays from their radishes, but they grow them as well. They go to great lengths to grow the largest radishes as the bigger the radish, the more elaborate the model you can carve.

There is, however, a catch. Even though December is Oaxaca’s coldest month of the year, temperatures can still reach 27˚c (80˚f). The elaborate radish creations often wilt within a few hours so judging has to take place very quickly!

Deck the chairs in Jacksonville, Florida

Oaxaca isn’t the only place to celebrate Christmas in the heat. In Jacksonville, Florida, the iconic, red lifeguard chairs of the American Red Cross are decorated and paraded through the city. The displays are often very elaborate featuring Santa, reindeer and even snowmen, despite the fact it’s often warm enough for onlookers to wear t-shirts!

Whatever your traditions, have a great (and safe) holiday season!

So I have listed just a few interesting Christmas traditions from around the world. There are many others and if you want to find out more, this blog post from the Youth Hostelling Association of Australia might appeal to you, as might this one from Insider magazine which lists traditions across the different states of the USA.

Whatever you are doing this holiday season, I hope your celebrations go well and that you are able to meet with loved ones. I wish you a very happy holiday and a wonderful start to 2022.

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