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Tis the Season to Discover X-mas Traditions from Around the World!

Last updated: Dec 7th, 2023


Can you believe it? – it’s almost Christmas! Tis the season to be jolly, to eat, to drink, to sing, all under the warm glow of Christmas lights – what a spectacle! A whole sleighful of countries across the globe celebrate this feel-good tradition, surrounded by their nearest and dearest. And this got us thinking…

Here in the UK, we have our own classic staples (I’m looking at you brussel sprouts), but what other traditions from around the world are wheeled out during December and on the BIG day?

Being in a diverse and multicultural team, we asked around to see if there are any country specific X-mas traditions that simply can’t be missed out (there’s a Merry Christmas in each native language too!). Check them out!

Beautifully lit Christmas market in the Main City of Gdansk during a snowfall, Poland, is one of many Christmas traditions from around the world.

Poland – Wesołych Świąt

Let’s start with the land of fields: Poland! Full of rich culture and history the X-mas traditions truly reflect that. While the UK go BIG on the 25th, classic Polish themes include Christmas Eve being the day where most things happen.

Heart-warming rituals include a Christmas eve dinner with 12 no-meat dishes that symbolise Jesus’s disciples; a spare plate on the dinner table for any who doesn’t have a place to eat or who might show up last minute; and waiting until the first star in the sky before the feasting can commence.

Loads of festive and emotional feelings to keep you warm.

`Feliz Navidad` from happy Spain the new day prepared as always for the tourists from all over the world Christmas traditions from around the world.

Spain – Feliz Navidad

Ever heard of the 12 days of Christmas? Spanish tradition brings it BIG with the feast of the Epiphany on the 6th of January – where most presents are still opened. There’s also parades on that day, as well as sweet seasonal favourites like turron eaten throughout the festive period.

NYE also sees Spaniards eating 1 sour grape for each chime of the clock before the New Year. The prize if they consume each bit of fruit? Good fortune for the next 365 days.

Colmar, France. Traditional Alsatian half-timbered houses Christmas decorated city in Alsace is one of the Christmas traditions from around the world

France – Joyeux Noël

Tis the season to eat game meat and put your shoes under the Christmas tree, or by the fireplace, for Pere Noel to fill with presents – because we’re in France!

Lovers of a BIG meal on the 24th as well, French tables include vintage favourites like oysters, foie gras and is called Le Reveillon and eaten around midnight. Christmas Day can be a more laid-back affair but can also see present opening and even more delicious food that may include beef, salmon, turkey or goose.

Piazza Navona is a square in Rome, Italy. It is built on the site of the Stadium of Domitian, built in the 1st century AD, and follows the form of the open space of the stadium.

Italy – Buon Natale

Want to feel festive for an entire month? Then a classic Italian Christmas might just tick a few of those tinsel rimmed boxes, with the holiday season running from the 8th December to Epiphany Day on the 6th January (where women dress up as good witches who give out sweets to children).

The 8th sees trees decorated in homes and piazzas around the country! Squares fill up and the metaphorical scissors are cut on the opening of those tingly festive celebrations.

Christmas is celebrated for 3 days too! Tis’ the season indeed!

German traditional Christmas cookies freshly baked are one of the Christmas traditions from around the world.

Germany – Frohe Weihnachten

Coal or sweets in your clogs? Depending on their behaviour throughout the year, German kids could get either, with St Nikolaus coming round on the 6th December to recognise the good children by their clean shoes!

Weeks before the 25th see traditional activities like baking biscuits called ‘Plätzchen’, with spices usually reserved for Christmas, like star anise, cardamom, cloves and buckets of cinnamon.

Different shapes, different sizes, kids usually cut them out in trees, angels, stars – anything Christmassey really!

Bolo do Rei or King s Cake is a ring shaped cake with candied fruit served in Portugal around Christmas and is one of the Christmas traditions from around the world.

Portugal – Feliz Natal

Boiled cod, boiled potatoes, cabbage, carrots & egg fill Portuguese tables up and down the Iberian country on traditional Christmas Eve meals.

If the 24th falls mid-week, people usually do half a day and spend the afternoon making yummy cakes! Then comes the meal above, consumption of scrumptious desserts and present opening!

Sound delicious!

Prague, Czech Republic. Christmas Market in Stare Mesto old square, Tyn Church, Bohemia, is one of the Christmas traditions from around the world.

Czech Republic – Veselé Vánoce

Czechia begins the jovial season with Advent, where a candle is lighted each Sunday in the run-up to the 25th. Each candle symbolises a classic theme of Christmas, they are:

Chrimbo Eve dinner sees traditional carp and potato salad and a ton of homemade tasty biscuits followed by presents. Plus, some preserve the fish scales from the meal, dry them out, and keep them for the next year as it’s supposed to bring wealth.

Christmas tree in Vilnius Lithuania is one of the Christmas traditions from around the world.

Lithuania – Linksmų Kalėdų

Much like Poland, Lithuania sees 12 dishes on Christmas Eve, symbolising each month of the year. Mainly fish and strictly no meat, plates include ‘herring in the beds’, fish pancakes and poppy seed milk.

Wafers are passed round the table and shared with family members too! This traditionally symbolises Christ’s body. Another fun classic activity is picking the longest bit of straw that’s been placed on the feasting table. Longer the straw, longer your life! At least, that’s what the legend says.

Sinterklaas with gifts . A typical Dutch character of st.Nicholas and Zwarte Piet is one of the Christmas traditions from around the world.

The Netherlands – Vrolijk Kerstfeest

Here comes Sinterklaas! Not an alternative to Santa Claus (the Dutch call him Kerstman) but rather like his cousin. His birthday eve on the 5th ofDecember is celebrated around the country, with tradition stating he journeys to every child’s home to leave small gifts and treats.

Christmas Day (Eerste kerstdag) is reserved for church-going and classic family meals, whereas Second Christmas Day (the 26th December & called Tweede Kerstdag) sees shopping and even more meals with your nearest and dearest.

Snowman on summer holidays made out of sand instead of snow

Australia – Merry Christmas!

Tis the season to celebrate Christmas Down Under! And because it’s summer in the Southern Hemisphere, Australians have a much sunnier and warmer time of year. Food can include a seafood platter with prawns, lobsters, as well as roast turkey and Christmas pudding.

Our favourite tradition is going to the beach dressed in fancy dress! The beach on Christmas day? Seems strange yet so brilliant. Grab your towels!

Christmas decorations on a Christmas store window in Reykjavik, Iceland, is one of the Christmas traditions from around the world.

Iceland – Gleðileg jól

Icelandic folklore takes a different turn to the usual helpful and warm X-mas spirit you may be used to as it sees the 13 Yule Lads playing pranks on everyone! At least, that was the vintage vibe each troll used to employ.

Recent times see them taking a more fun and caring route, with children leaving shoes on window ledges in the 13 days leading up to Christmas hoping for a small treat. Time to be nice!

Family having Christmas dinner at home with friends is one of the Christmas traditions from around the world.

UK

Where would you be without the classic traditions of the UK! There’s kissing under the mistletoe, mince pies, Christmas stockings, Christmas pudding, carol singing, crackers and the classic roasted (in some houses for 24 hours) turkey! And of course, brussel sprouts!

New Year’s Eve sees massive celebrations all over, with a countdown to the strike of midnight followed by hugging and kissing of your nearest and dearest a common tradition. Scotland stands out with the HUGE Hogmanay, where there’s torchlight processions, fireworks, and the singing of Robert Burns timeless poem, Auld Lang Syne.

‘A Merry Christmas to us all’

It’s the time of the year to eat, drink and be with friends and family, and that same warm feeling is felt throughout the world.

Lovely traditions wherever you look, we hope you have the best Christmas and those classic festive vibes carry on for evermore!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!