Christmas Traditions Around the World

One of my favourite things about Christmas is learning how different countries celebrate it! It’s so interesting to find out how traditions vary from all around the world. I found some very talented bloggers who helped contribute and tell me how their Christmas Traditions around the world!

Bangledesh

December 25th is a public holiday for Christmas in Bangladesh, and around 175 million people in Bangladesh celebrate it every year. Christmas is known as “Borodin” ( or ‘Bara din’ ) in our country and in India’s west part, which means ‘the big day’ in English. On this occasion, instead of saying “Happy/Merry Christmas”, people here say “Shuvo Borodin” to each other.

On this day, big towns and cities, shops and hotels used to have ‘wester’ style Christmas decorations like fake snow and artificial ‘Christmas trees’ with tones of lights. The Christians are most likely to have a Christmas tree in their home. Everyone on this day exchange gift cards with each other. Christians who live in big houses and cities are likely to go to their village homes to celebrate Christmas since the atmosphere of villages in our country is so calmer than in the cities. In the villages of our country, banana trees and leaves are used for decorations.

Catholic Christians will go to a Midnight Mass service. Christmas morning church services are also popular with Christians. A way of decorating buildings for different festive occasions in Bangladesh is ‘Nishan’ (which means small flags). These are strings made of hundreds of tiny pink paper triangles. Traditionally in Bengali churches, the men sit on one side of the church, and women sit on the other.

Following church services, especially in rural areas, it’s traditional that everyone has a Christmas dinner together at the church. This is named the “Preeti – bhoj” or “Prem- bhoj”, which means “love feast”. The meal often includes dishes like chicken and vegetable curries served with rice and vegetables. In Bangladesh, other popular traditional Christmas foods are cakes, pita, paesh, semai, and sandwiches.

Canada

In my family, we have a few Christmas traditions that start before Christmas day and continue until either Christmas or boxing day. One important thing we do, but there is no set time frame, is to look at Christmas lights around our community. 


With my immediate family, we like to start decorating the weekend following November 11th (Remembrance Day). We decorate both the inside and outside of the house. Usually, our tree does not go up until closer to Christmas due to dogs and the fact we want to keep the tree safe as long as possible! While setting up, I try to bake something Christmas-themed (Cookies, cupcakes, etc.).

My mom and I work for a local school board, so we get two weeks around Christmas off. Once we finish for Christmas, the festivities really start to set in. I do more baking; if the tree is not up, we put our tree up and decorate it. We listen to Christmas music and watch Christmas movies. We wrap presents and put them under the tree. Additionally, we do a seven-day count down to Christmas with Alcoholic drinks in our family.

A bloodhound dressed up in a Christmas outfit, sat in front of a white Christmas tree.
Leroy looking festive in front of the tree.

As Christmas day arrives, our family wakes up makes a themed breakfast (Grinch pancakes, Christmas tree pancakes, etc.). We gather around and open our presents from each other. If it is a year, my aunt has to work Christmas Day, we spend the day as a family and then go to our family Christmas on Boxing day. However, if it is a year my aunt has Christmas off, then depending on who year it is to host Christmas (we rotate through all the siblings on my dad’s side of the family), we go to that person’s house, or we prep to have people at our house. Once we are all together, there are many snacks, play board games, watch tv etc.

We have a Christmas fest which consists of Turkey, Mashed potatoes, Stuffings, Gravy, Vegetables, Bread, and Salad. Each year, we have some different items, but these are the staple foods. After dinner, some people go and visit while others clean up.

After cleaning up, we move to dessert, which always consists of many pies. We then move to presents, where one person hands out gifts to all the different family members. We either do a Secret Santa for one person, or we play the ‘Stealing Game’. This is when everyone’s name goes into a hat, and the first person to be pulled has to pick a present. Once they’ve unwrapped the gift, the next name is drawn. They can then choose to steal someones present or keep their own until everyone is happy! As the night finishes off, we say our goodbyes. Within a few days after Christmas, the decorations come down and are then put away until next year! 

The UK

1. During the Christmas holidays, people watch a pantomime at the local theatre – a musical comedy based on popular fairy tales or fables, like Cinderella or Peter Pan.

People also go carol singing, singing songs about Jesus and the celebration of his birth, while collecting money for charity. Carol singing can take place by attending a church carol service, singing in public or in the local neighbourhood, knocking on each door and beginning singing a carol when the neighbour opens the door.   

On Christmas Eve, a Christmas stocking is hung up on the fireplace or the end of a child’s bed for Santa to fill it with small gifts, toys, chocolates and other treats ready to be opened on Christmas morning. 

On Christmas day, Christmas dinner traditionally involves a roast turkey and vegetables, followed by Christmas pudding and Christmas cake for dessert. It’s tradition for a silver coin to be placed inside the Christmas pudding and it’s thought that whoever finds the silver coin in their piece of the pudding will experience good luck and prosperity in the year ahead. During dinner, crackers are pulled between two people, when opened they contain a small gift, party hat and joke or riddle for each person. 

At 3 pm in the afternoon, the country stops to watch the Queen’s speech on the TV, lasting 10 minutes. In her speech she reflects on the hope we have at Christmas in the birth of Jesus, reflects on the previous year and the events that have happened in the world and provides encouragement going into the next year.

The day after Christmas is called Boxing Day. It was traditionally invented as a day to place all your unwanted gifts in a box to give to the poor. Now it more commonly involves watching football, going to the shops for the start of the sales and eating the leftover turkey, normally in sandwiches.  

Jessi under the Christmas Tree.

2. In the United Kingdom, everyone seems to have their own little Christmas traditions which are unique to their circle of family and friends, but there are some common themes that pervade the Great British festive season. Pantomimes are delightfully cheesy traditions that emerge every December across the UK without fail, with children’s storybooks being enacted on stage by eccentric characters by day, and adults-only evenings where the performances are packed full of innuendos by night.

On Christmas Day, many sculpt their day around ensuring they are plonked in front of the TV to watch the Queen’s Speech, perhaps with a glass of Irish cream liqueur. Some of the more adventurous plunge into the cold sea across the length and breadth of the UK, to raise money for charity. But for me, a firm favourite Christmas
tradition is overindulgence in a variety of weird and wonderful cheeses.

Nigeria

โ€œIt’s the time to celebrate Christmas with your loved ones. Here are some of the most beautiful and interesting facts about how Nigerians celebrate Christmas.”


As the countdown to Christmas begins, today Peak Essential Health takes you back home to Nigeria. You’ll get a peek into some of the most popular traditions and activities enjoyed by kids and adults alike during this fun-filled season.
Christmas in Nigeria is one of the most sacred events celebrated with great enthusiasm and zest like the rest of the world. Nigerians celebrate Christmas more like a family event in their unique and oldest traditions that stand them apart from other countries. Many people who live in cities travel back to their villages to celebrate Christmas with their family members. Christmas is famous as an event of family gatherings in Nigeria.


The celebration of Christmas in Nigeria is filled with rituals and traditions that are centuries old. One such tradition involves families throwing parties for one another on the evening before, which can last until morning comes! People drink, eat, and enjoy throughout the night. Nigerians go to church to pray on Christmas Morning. Homes and Streets are decorated in cultural colours that depict the celebration of Christmas. Nigerian people don’t eat anything on Christmas Eve. They drink and dance throughout the night to save food for the day of Christmas. Christmas Cards are one of the most practised traditions in Nigeria. People send Christmas cards to their family members and friends as a sign of love. Nigerian Childrenโ€™s Christmas is incomplete without firecrackers that they play with throughout the Eve. The tradition of Santa Claus and exchanging gifts is also popular among Nigerians.


What are some traditional foods eaten at Christmas in Nigeria?
Nigerian people love to eat foods including turkey, beef, goat, and sheep. The famous traditional foods that are eaten at Christmas in Nigeria are as follows: Rice and Chicken Stew, Fried Rice, Jollof Rice, Ukwa, Fisherman Soup, Ofada rice and Stew and Nkwobi.
In some areas of Nigeria, people only eat Fried Rice as traditional food and leave meats, turkey, and chicken with all other animal-derived products to grant life to several animals on the special day of Christmas. Therefore, Fried Rice is the sign and gesture of compassion and life in Nigeria at Christmas. The mealtime changes significantly on the 25th of December when Nigerian people wait for their families and friends at the lunch and dinner table. Nigerian People mostly serve traditional foods to their guests. Nigerians have unique traditions because of their culture and customs that are unique from the rest of the world.

African national food dish grilled meat and chicken dish wings home-made Cuisine with plantain with jollof rice. Nigerian Jollof rice.

Wisconsin, USA

I grew up in Wisconsin, in a predominantly white Roman Catholic community. Our extended family was over an 8-hour drive away, so we didn’t celebrate many times with them. It was always just us four: me, my sister, my mother and my father. 
On Christmas eve, my father took me and my sister to Mass where they had a nativity play with children that attended our parish’s school. After mass, my mom would have dinner almost ready for us to eat. My sister and I helped with appetizers and we put on Christmas music. Promptly after dinner, we would all gather around the tree and open presents.
On Christmas morning, that’s where the real fun happened! Santa came down the chimney and filled our stockings. We often got the “bigger” more exciting presents from Santa than we would the prior night. But we also got lots of chocolate, too. 

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