Christmas Traditions Around the World

Posted on the 14th December 2017

With Christmas 2017 fast approaching we thought it would be a great idea to showcase the Christmas traditions of the countries Lattitude work in! Keep reading to find out how people around the world are celebrating this festive season. 


In the UK Most families have a Christmas tree (or two) in their house for Christmas. The decorating of the tree is usually a family occasion, with everyone helping. Most villages, towns and cities are decorated with Christmas lights which are often switched on by a famous person at an event.

On Christmas Eve children hang a stocking on the fire place or at the end of their bed in the hopes that Santa Claus will leave them presents in the night! Also on Christmas Eve, mince pies and brandy are left for Santa Claus to eat and drink when he visits and a carrot for the reindeer!

On Christmas Day people open their presents and the main meal is usually eaten at lunchtime or early afternoon and this is roast turkey with vegetables!


In Japan Christmas is known as a time to spread happiness rather than a religious celebration. Christmas eve is often celebrated more than Christmas day and is thought of as a romantic day, in which couples spend together and exchange presents. Young couples go for walks to look at Christmas lights and have a romantic meal in a restaurant.

Fried chicken is often eaten on Christmas day; it is the busiest time of the year for restaurants such as KFC and people place orders at their local fast food restaurant in advance! There was an advertising campaign by KFC in 1974 called Kentucky for Christmas which was very successful and made KFC popular for Christmas.


Christmas Eve in Poland traditionally is a day for fasting and then feasting in the evening. Typically no meat is allowed to be eaten with the main dish of the meal being carp. The carp is kept in the household bath for a few days and then the women of the house has to kill it ready for Christmas Eve dinner.

Christmas Eve is known as ‘Wigilia’ and the main Christmas meal which is served in the evening is called kolacja wigilijna (Christmas eve supper). This meal cannot be eaten until the first star appears in the sky!



In Argentina, the main Christmas celebrations take place on Christmas Eve. The main Christmas meal is eaten during the evening of Christmas Eve, often about 11pm. It might be served in the garden and is often a barbeque! Some popular dishes include roasted turkey, roasted pork, stuffed tomatoes, salads and Christmas bread and puddings like Panetone.

At midnight there will be the sound of fireworks. People also like to toast the start of Christmas day. Some like to go to midnight services but others prefer to stay at home and let off fireworks and then open their presents under the tree.


In Australia, Christmas comes in the beginning of the summer holidays. Australians decorate their houses with bunches of ‘Christmas bush’ – a  native Australian tree with small green leaves and cream coloured flowers. In summer the flowers turn a deep shiny red over a period of weeks. There are also huge Christmas pageants in each states capital city that are also broadcast across the country. Most towns and cities have festivals and parades. In some places, there is a fireworks display at the local park.


Like Australia, Christmas in New Zealand comes in the middle of the summer holidays. Lots of people like to spend time at the beach or camping for Christmas. It therefore makes sense that most people have a barbeque for Christmas lunch! The food cooked on the barbeque is often ham slices or even venison or some other kind of exotic meat. Presents are opened on Christmas day once the whole family is all together; this is usually before the Christmas lunch.

Many towns have Santa parades with decorated floats, bands and marching girls. As its warm, Santa is often seen wearing ‘jandals’ (NZ sandals!) and sometimes he swaps his red top for a NZ all black rugby shirt.

Children in NZ leave out carrots for Santa’s reindeer and Santa might be left a beer and some pineapple chunks. There are big carol services throughout the country and Christmas light shows and displays. Kiwis also have their own special Christmas tree – the Pohutukawa – it can grow to be a very large tree and has bright red flowers which are popular decorations and also feature on Christmas cards. It’s been associated with Christmas since the mid-1800s.



Christmas Eve is the time when the celebrations really start in Ghana with church services that have drumming and dancing. Children often put on a nativity play or other drama. Then choirs come out to sing and people come out in front of the priests to dance. Songs are mostly sung in languages that people understand best. This makes them feel that god speaks their language. Sometimes these services and dancing go on all night long. Other people celebrate Christmas Eve with fireworks and parties.

On Christmas day the churches are very full. People come out dressed in their colourful traditional clothes. After the church service on Christmas morning, people quickly go back to their houses to start giving and receiving gifts.


Malawi Christmas traditions are similar to that of the religious Christmas celebrations around the world. There is a lot of singing, dancing and dramas which are fantastic to watch. Malawians give simple often handmade gifts and give verbal greetings.

Groups of young children go door to door to perform dances and Christmas songs dressed in skirts made of leaves and using home made instruments. A typical Christmas meal for a Malawian might have rice instead of the usual nsima, and chicken. Whilst most Malawians have a family meal at home, the lake is a popular holiday destination for those with resources.


Most people in Spain go to midnight Mass. Most families eat their main Christmas meal on Christmas Eve before the service. The traditional Spanish Christmas dinner is ‘Pavo Trufado de Navidad’ which is turkey stuffed with truffles! At the midnight service, people walk through the streets carrying torches, playing guitars and beating on tambourines and drums.

Apart from Christmas there is another festival that is celebrated in Spain that is about the Christmas story. It is called Epiphany and is celebrated on 6th January. In Spanish, Epiphany is called ‘Fiesta de Los tres Reyes Mages’ which in English means the festival of the three magic kings. Epiphany celebrates when the kings brought gifts to the baby Jesus. Children have some presents on Christmas day but most are opened at epiphany. On Epiphany Eve children leave shoes on windowsills and balconies or under the tree to be filled with presents. gifts are often left by children for the kings; a glass of cognac for each king, a satsuma and some walnuts. Sometimes a bucket of water is left for the camels that bring the kings.



Many Canadians open their gifts on Christmas Eve. Though some only open their stocking on Christmas Eve and others choose one gift to open, then save the rest until Christmas Day!Canadian children believe in Santa Claus and Canadians are especially proud to say that their country is home of Santa Claus! The Santa Claus parade in Toronto is one of the oldest and largest Santa parades in the world. It’s been taking place for over 100 years and is now a huge event with over 25 animated floats and 2000 people taking part. Its broadcast on TV around the world.

Canadians like to decorate their houses with Christmas trees, lights and other decorations. The main Christmas meal is roast turkey with vegetables!


Christmas in Ecuador is highly commercialised in the big cities with decorations and festive music playing in the shops as early as October!

Christmas is an important religious festival in this predominantly catholic country. Many homes in Ecuador will have a nativity scene with little models of the Christmas story at this time of year and roadside stalls sell little figures and artificial moss needed for the creation of these festive scenarios, along with tinsel, lights, baubles and wrapping paper.

Ecuador’s Christmas traditions include eating Christmas dinner at midnight on Christmas eve with the result that much of Christmas day itself is spent recovering from eating dinner. Although presents are exchanged they are usually token gifts rather than extravagantly expensive purchases.


In Fiji, two weeks before December 25, people gather together at the largest house in the community and stay there until two weeks after New Year’s Day. They participate in singing, and enjoy the traditional “Meke” dance. This classic dance form involves a fan dance or “seasea” by women and a spear dance known as “Make wesi” by men. People light lamps to decorate the whole area where the ‘Meke’ dance is performed.Beach picnics and parties are also held during Christmas.

Christmas trees are also adorned with colorful ribbons and candles are used to decorate homes. People prefer to cook food in the “lovo” which is an oven full of stones, placed immediately outside their homes. They usually organize a feast for December 24th and 25th. Some of the most favorite dishes eaten during Christmas in Fiji are garlic and spice filled chicken, pork, beef, fish, Dalo, and cassava. A special drink known as “kava” is an integral part of the festive season.


However you celebrate Christmas, from everyone here at Lattitude HQ we wish you a very happy holiday and new year! 

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