Christmas Around the World


Obviously we all know what Christmas is like in good old England, but what’s it like in other places? If you haven’t been to a different country for Christmas and had the privilege of experiencing a vastly different set of seasonal traditions, look no further.


As the majority of Russian Christians belong to the Russian Orthodox Church, which still uses the Julian Calendar, Christmas celebrations in Russia are a whooping 13 days behind ours. So for Russians, Christmas day is actually on the 7th of January. If you go to Russia and find yourself wondering where ‘Santa Claus’ is, it turns out he has a Russian alias, so instead be on the look out for a man in a troika, with a staff and wearing felt boots, called ‘Ded Moroz’.


This isn’t so much a Christmas tradition, as the fact that Australia’s seasons are the opposite of ours. So while Britons are inside eating roast dinner, most Australians will opt for outdoor activities, such as surfing if you’re fortunate enough to live by the coast, followed by a good old fashioned ‘barbie’.

Catalonia, Spain

‘Tió de Nadal’, a hollow log with stick legs, a goofy face and a red hat, is a tradition, which not many may have heard of, but it’s one that nonetheless needs a mention. On December 8th, children are given a Tió de Nadal, and for the next 16 days are given the task of providing him with offerings of dried fruit, nuts, water and ensuring he stays warm.

On Christmas Eve all the children take out their rage on the log they have been given the responsibility of looking after by battering him with sticks. The log then rewards them with candy and sweets. Also, stepping away from the traditional nativity scene appears to be Catalonia’s specialty. Many nativity scenes in this Spanish region include a figure known as the ‘Caganer’. If you would like to know more about this, just Google it.

Here are a few more unique cultural traditions embraced in the festive season:

  1. Norway – For those of you who get stuck doing the housework, celebrating Christmas the Norwegian way might appeal to you. In this Scandinavian country, all brooms remain tightly locked away in cleaning cupboard, just in case an evil spirit decides that’s what they want for Christmas.
  1. Zimbabwe – Zimbabwean Christmas cuisine is a tad different from British Turkey and stuffing, here, it’s customary to tuck into jam and goat meat.
  1. Venezuela – The majority of the residents in this Catholic South American country go to Mass on Christmas Eve, but residents of Caracas (the capital city)  travel to Mass in style, by choosing to roller skate there.
  1. South Africa – If you’re a self-confessed foodie and love trying new things, South Africa’s traditions may be the ones for you. A South African delicacy eaten on Christmas day is deep-fried caterpillar.

Happy Christmas and enjoy your celebrations, wherever you may be!

Featured image by Tara Shore.


Law student at the University of Southampton.

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