Interesting Christmas traditions from around the world

To those of you who celebrate it, I wish you a Merry Christmas. While it begun solely as a Christian holiday, people from all over the world have embraced the festive season and added their own unique traditions along the way. Santa Claus, manger scenes, and smiley snowmen still reign supreme. However, with the big day coming up tomorrow, I thought it would be interesting to have some fun trivia and get to know Christmas traditions from around the world.

Put together by Travel Republic, the following infographic lists the interesting types of food traditions, tree decorations, and gift-giving practices. From bringing your pet rooster to Christmas Eve mass to the penchant of the Japanese for a festive KFC dinner, here are the quirkiest Christmas customs from countries around the world.

Infographic: 12 Christmas traditions around the world

12 Christmas traditions around the world

  • 82% of countries in the world celebrate Christmas.
  • 67 metres is the tallest Christmas tree on record, erected in a Washington, DC shopping mall in 1950.
  • 832. That’s the number of presents Santa has to deliver every second to cover every child in the world.
  • 8:39am is the average time the first piece of chocolate is eaten on Christmas Day in the UK.

Traditional foods

In the UK it starts with a sneaky morning segment of Terry’s Chocolate Orange, and snowballs into turkey, Brussel sprouts, and excessive mince pies. Santa gets a piece of the festivities too — children leave him mince pies to snack on. And in Northern Ireland he’s treated to a pint of Guinness too.

Although the 25th of December isn’t a recognized holiday in Japan, some families will celebrate with a Christmas bird — a KFC bucket of chicken ordered months in advance.

Japan KFC’s “Christmas Chicken Dinner” bucket includes cake and champagne, and will set you back a finger-lickin’ 5000 Yen (CDN$59.80)

On Christmas Eve families enjoy a traditional feast with a piece of iron placed under the table (to ensure strong legs). Strong stomaches are needed too — there are 12 courses, two of which are carp.

South Africa
Fancy trading your mince pie for a creepy crawler? In South Africa, oil-fried emperor moths are a common festive treat.

Tree Traditions

Originally brought to England by Prince Albert from his native Germany, the tree has become a vital part of Christmas in the UK. The festive season just wouldn’t be complete without dusting off boxes marked ‘Xmas Decs’, trying to plug six sets of fairy lights into one socket, and hoovering up stray pine needles at least twice a day.

Canada exports the largest amount of Christmas trees worldwide, whilst Denmark exports the most within Europe.

The Chinese city of Changzhou erects its traditional Christmas tree every year, made entirely out of beer bottles.

German families decorating their tree will find a special place for one ornament in particular — the Christmas pickle. This tradition is said to date back to 1880!

In 2010, Abu Dhabi nabbed the record for the most expensive Christmas tree. Costing a cool CDN$10.8 million, it was decked in gold ornaments and precious gems, making it a far cry from tinsel and the usual homemade decorations.

The celebrations

In Bolivia, it’s commonly believed that a rooster was the one who announced the birth of Jesus. Thanks to this, Christmas Eve mass can be quite a noisy affair, as attendants sometimes bring along their very own rooster to celebrate!

A Norwegian tradition is to spend Christmas Eve hiding away all cleaning implements in the house — it’s believed during the night, evil witches will decent to steal all the brooms they can find!

Spanish families add an unusual character to the traditional nativity scenes — a ‘caganer’ (figurine with dropped pants) leaving a special surprise for baby Jesus.

Gift traditions

Presents come early to children in Serbia — two Sundays before Christmas Day, they tie their mother up, and only set her free once she’s paid a ransom in gifts.

Children will open presents that’ve been left in their shoes by the Dutch Santa — Sinterklaas. He lives in Spain and sails over on a steamboat to make his deliveries.

Swedish families often add to the festive fun of gift giving with handwritten rhymes on the outside of each present that hints at its contents.


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