With Christmas just around the corner, Christmas trees are in store fronts, Santa Clauses are swarming the malls, and Christmas lights are everywhere. Millions of people around the world are preparing to celebrate the holiday, so here are some Christmas traditions from around the world that you may not have known about.
Photo: Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash
In Ethiopia, the Christmas season is not about exchanging gifts. Instead, men and boys play a hockey-like game, called ‘gena.’ Christians spend all night at church and they spend the day playing and feasting. They, like many Orthodox Christian groups, celebrate Christmas on January 7th, not December 25th, in accordance with the old Julian calendar.
In Venezuela, people take the unusual step of roller-skating to Christmas mass. This tradition is so popular in the capital, Caracas, that the streets are closed. There are also many fireworks and celebrations with friends and family. Instead of Santa Claus, Baby Jesus delivers gifts. Christmas trees are either fake or must be imported because they are not naturally grown in the area.
In Ukraine, where Christmas is also celebrated in January, people often decorate their Christmas trees with spider ornaments and tell the story of the Christmas Spider. According to the legend, a spider spun decorations for a poor family’s Christmas tree, so it is good luck to find a spider in your tree.
In the Philippines, as soon as it starts to cool down, the holiday season begins. They have many European Christmas traditions, as well as some other unique traditions, including the creation of parols, or colorful star-shaped lanterns. Christmas day is spent with family and there are gift exchanges between family and friends.
In Australia, Christmas falls right in the middle of the summer. When Santa arrives, he changes into some lighter clothes and trades in his reindeer for some kangaroos. Just like Britain, Christmas crackers are very popular. Carols are also very popular and large caroling events take place and they are televised throughout the country.
In Jamaica, the weather is also warm, allowing people to spend Christmas Eve at the Grand Markets throughout the island. Shops are open, and there is a festival atmosphere that’s especially exciting for children. Fruitcakes soaked in red wine and white rum are popular and eaten as part of the large Christmas meals.
These are just a few examples of traditions from around the world. Each country and region has its own unique Christmas celebrations and traditions. Christmas is a Christian holiday that celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ, and it is widely celebrated in countries with large Christian populations. However, even in countries with small Christian populations, Christmas is still celebrated, even though it may not be as much of a mainstream affair.
There is no one way to celebrate Christmas, but there are plenty of cool traditions that have developed around the world. Do you have any traditions you would like to share? Let us know in the comments!
Hi, my name is Kathryn Kuhar and I am a 19-year-old sophomore at Harvard College studying Government. A fun fact about me is that I’ve lived in Hawaii, California, Belgium, and Turkey.