Christmas is celebrated all around the world. That doesn’t mean it’s celebrated the same way everywhere. Depending on what country or region or town you find yourself in, Christmas festivities will undoubtedly take on some unique qualities.
So in an effort to better understand our world we’ve surveyed the interesting different ways countries around the globe celebrate the 25th of December.
- Australia: Being south of the equator, Australia experiences Christmas in the summer. No “winter wonderland” down under. Instead, Aussies usually celebrate it in a fashion similar to the 4th of July in the United States. They go to the beach or host a back yard barbecue. And rather than a pine tree, many Australians decorate Christmas Bushes. They’re plants native to the continent with little red-flowered leaves.
- France: Recall the lyric “toll the ancient yuletide carol”? Yule was the Germanic, pagan festival held in the winter. As Christianity spread, Yule and Christmas were merged. One big part of the pagan holiday was the Yule Log. In France they continue the Yule log tradition. A cherry wood log is carried into the home on Christmas Eve. It’s sprinkled with red wine so that the log smells nice when it is burning. It is then left to burn until the New Year.
- Mexico: Here people celebrate a 9 day celebration that begins on December 16 in the evening and extends to Christmas Eve. The celebration is called Las Posadas—’posada’ meaning ‘inn’ in reference to Mary and Joseph looking for lodging. Every night a different house hosts a Posada party where kids sing Christmas carols—called villancicos—and break open piñatas.
- Russia: Not only does Russia have its own variations of Christmas. It’s celebrated on a completely different day: January 7th. The reason for this is that the Russian Orthodox church uses the old Julian Calendar for religious celebrations. The official holiday festivities run from December 31st to January 10th. If you go there for Christmas, remember to wish everyone a “S Rozhdestvom!”
- Netherlands: We have this country to thank for Santa Claus. They celebrate ‘Sinterklaas’ on the eve of St. Nicholas’s feast day, December 5th. Sinterklaas is Dutch for St. Nick and it’s from this word we derive Santa Claus. The holiday, however, has been coming under fire in recent years because of Santa’s controversial helper “zwarte piet.”
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