Christmas Traditions Differ Around the World

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Courtesy of Antonia Castagna (Flickr CC0)

Christmas is a staple holiday in many American households. The sheer amount of media coverage for this holiday is immense enough that it would be outlandish for someone to be unaware of the traditions surrounding this December 25th holiday. But, how do people in other countries celebrate? While the premise remains the same, the details absolutely do not.

Courtesy of Kris Fricke (Flickr CC0)

A difference that is easily overlooked when talking about other countries and Christmas is that it does not fall during the winter. Australia is a notable example, which never sees a single snowflake fall during December. In the Southern Hemisphere, December falls in their summer months. For Australians, Father Christmas, as opposed to Santa, arrives on a surfboard rather than a sleigh, and celebrations look more like a barbeque than a dining room feast.

In Japan, the celebration looks nothing like it does in America. Santa Claus is not the white-bearded face of the holiday. Instead, it has been taken over by none other than Kentucky Fried Chicken’s Colonel Sanders. This tradition began in the ’70s when the first KFC in Japan advertised a “party barrel” of chicken for Christmas dinner. It sparked a flame. By 2016, an estimated 3.6 million Japanese households celebrate with a KFC chicken bucket.

Courtesy of Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation (Flickr CC0)

The Festival of Las Posadas is observed in Mexico between December 16 and 24 to honor Mary and Joseph’s long journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem.

During Las Posadas (Spanish for shelter), children in robes, musicians, an angel, and two people representing the couple, follow a path stopping at predetermined households. There the precession is given refreshments.

This is repeated for nine nights to celebrate Mary’s months of pregnancy. On the final night, children break open piñatas filled with goodies.

Courtesy of Mario Sanchez Prada (Flickr CC0)

The Philippines has one of the brightest and best Christmas seasons in the world. Their festivals stretch from September through January. Huge light displays and lanterns made of bamboo and paper called parols are displayed everywhere. In some places, competitions are held for the best decorations. In addition, an amazing meal is shared full of tons of cultural food on Christmas Eve.

Clearly, Christmas is a holiday that has spread its message across the globe. Although every country or family may not celebrate the same way, it is beautiful to share this holiday with others who honor Christmas differently. In the time of a global pandemic, the likes of which have not been seen in the last century, a little beauty found in unity is something everyone could use.

Opinion News by Joseph Nelson
Edited by Cathy Milne-Ware


CNN: Christmas traditions around the world; by Ashley Novak
HISTORY: Christmas Traditions Worldwide

Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Antonio Castagna’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
First Inset Image Courtesy of Kris Fricke’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Second Inset Image Courtesy of Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Third Inset Image Courtesy of Mario Sanchez Prada’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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