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Christmas Traditions From Around the World

by Kevin Dooley

As stores and homes begin to adorn their Christmas trees with lights and tinsel and children’s letter arrive at the North Pole have you ever stopped to think about what Christmas means and how it is celebrated in different corners of the globe?

Christmas in Isreal

Christmas in Isreal

Although only about 2 percent of the Israeli population are Christians, Christmas is fervently celebrated in the Christian quarter of the Old City where Jesus is said to have lived and died. Churches bejewelled with trees and decorations conduct services nonstop in a variety of languages. Many people will make a pilgrimage six miles south from Jerusalem to Bethlehem and marching bands led by Arabian horses will meander through the streets to Manger Square where Jesus was born.

Christmas Traditions in Oaxaca, Mexico

Christmas Traditions in Oaxaca, Mexico

In Mexico, Mary and Joseph’s search for shelter is re-enacted with door to door processions and a parade lit by lanterns in Oaxaca. Another Mexican tradition at Christmas is to break plates to signify the end of the year. There is even a century-old tradition, Noche de Rabanos – Night of the Radishes – that is held on the evening of 23 December in the city centre where farmers gather to display incredible sculptures of nativity scenes and Christmas related items that have been carved out of local giant radishes. Once a winner has been chosen the Mexican skies light up with festive fireworks.

Christmas by Candlelight at the Treak Cliff Cavern

Christmas by Candlelight at the Treak Cliff Cavern

Castleton, a village in the English Peak District is filled with song at Christmas time. On the weekends leading up to Christmas, two of the four stunning caverns host carol singing. The Treak Cliff Cavern holds afternoon candlelit sing-alongs and in the evenings, participants can visit Peak Cavern where the amazing acoustics at the entrance fill the air with carol favorites  Festivities go hand in hand with song and Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas,” released in 1942 is said to be the best selling carol ever.

Christmas is celebrated in different ways around the world with many an interesting tradition and fact. The shortened version of the holiday, “Xmas,” derives from the X in Greek which means Christ. Many countries enjoy decorating real pine trees but it can take around 15 years to grow an average-sized tree.

Basset a carolin'

You can get this AWESOME Caroler costume on Etsy by clicking on the picture.

To many the season is about giving and the Statue of Liberty was actually the world’s largest Christmas gift given to America by the French in 1886 however 1 in 10 people will have reportedly broken a present by the New Year. Furry friends are part of the family too and 7 in 10 people are said to get gifts for their pets. The average number of times Visa Cards are used during Christmas is staggering at 5,340 times per minute.Christmas Feast

Food is a focal point at Christmas time and once again countries celebrate in different ways. In Eastern Europe an elaborate twelve meat-free dishes are served on Christmas Eve as the pre-Christmas season is viewed as a time of fasting to be broken on Christmas day. A place is set at tables for deceased relatives in honour of their memory and in the Czech Republic, a traditional meal of fried carp and potato salad is served. Biscuits are a feature in every household, either for visitors or to decorate trees with.

John Neiman's Christmas Tree Farm

John Neiman’s Christmas Tree Farm in Hamilton, Ohio which has been part of Rebecca’s Christmas tradition for almost 30 years

In Peru, families sit down to a feast of turkey stuffed with peanuts and ground beef and garnished with cherries and pineapple slices. Finland serves up a variety of dishes including ham, fish and a liver casserole. Mulled wine is the traditional drink at Christmas.

Different countries will celebrate Christmas with different foods, presents, decorations and traditions but the one thing they have in common at Christmas is it being the season to spend with friends and loved ones enjoying great food, song and festivity.


This article was written on behalf of Claridges. If you are visiting London for Christmas why not stay at one of the most festive and stylish hotels in London.

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JOY TOUR and TRAVEL has been in operation since 1985. We are fully bonded and insured. We are specialists in many areas of travel. Our staff has traveled extensively to bring you first-hand knowledge of the world. It is our goal to provide quality travel experiences that are of exceptional value to our clients. We are an active member and Co-Owner of Travel Alliance Partners (TAP). This is your assurance that this agency meets the highest standards of financial stability. We have to meet certain criteria to be a member of TAP. TAP is 29 of North America's premier tour operators. We are also a member of (which allows us to get special discounts); the Greater Cincinnati BBB, Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC) and International Airlines Travel Agent Network (IATAN), which allows us to book international, as well as domestic airline itineraries

3 comments on “Christmas Traditions From Around the World

  1. transplantedtatar
    December 14, 2012

    My family didn’t celebrate Christmas when i was growing up in the Soviet Central Asia, but New Year’s was a big thing–with the New Year’s tree, Grandfather Frost and his grand-daughter Snow Maiden, and lots and lots of food. Many employers organized huge New Year’s parties for children of their employees in December: we dressed up in home-made costumes and recited poems or sang songs or solved riddles to get presents from Grandfather Frost. We’d also get little gift bags with tangerines and oranges from Cuba–the only time of year when these were available. It was such a treat, and the smell of tangerine peels is still the smell of the holidays for me. Then, on 7th of January, our Christian neighbors brought us pastries, and we predicted the future for the Russian holiday of Svyatki ( I love this time of year.

  2. joytourandtravel
    December 14, 2012

    This is my favorite time of year, too. Sharing holiday traditions is so fun and I loved reading your family traditions! This weekend, we will begin making all of the Christmas candy and cookies to give out as gifts. This is typically is a huge (and joyous) fiasco with a finished product of pounds and pounds of different flavors of fudge, buckeyes, cool whip cookies and peanut butter cookies neatly divided into holiday containers for our friends and family. I hope you have a wonderful holiday season!!

  3. Charlotte
    September 18, 2013

    I’ve been to Treak Clidff Cavern before, but never at Xmas time! I think I might have to go this year as I only live a couple of hours away from it (Sheffield). Speaking of traditions around the world, I found a cool infographic on Xmas drinks around the world

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