The Continents at Christmas


The festive season is such an all-consuming time, we get so wrapped up in what to get our weird aunt that we forget to look further than our little bubble. Just outside our door, is a rich and diverse globe, whose everyday is so different to ours. But look no further, as we take a quick stop in each continent for a sample of their Christmas magic!



Jolabokaflod – Iceland

A tradition for you avid readers! In World War II, paper was one of the few things in Iceland that was not rationed. As such, the nation took it upon themselves to give their loved ones books the night before Christmas, spending the time together lost in the pages of a new read. Translated literally as ‘book flood’, what could be better than spending your Christmas Eve snuggly wrapped up with a new book and some chocolate?



Simbang Gabi – Philippines

If you’re one of those ‘Christmas should only be celebrated in mid-December’ types then look away now, as in the Philippines the festive season is celebrated from September until January. Simbang Gabi refers to the dawn masses that begin on the 16th December, with the final one taking place on Christmas Eve. This is to show their devotion to God, and of course, plenty of food is involved too! You are likely to also see parols, which are stars traditionally made of bamboo, rice paper and oil lanterns, representing the star that guided the Three Wise Men. 



Santa Parades – New Zealand

Large parades around Christmas time are known all over the world, but throughout the twentieth century, New Zealand was determined to outdo them all! Though they are now a little more regulated (boo!), the 1930s saw Santa enter by elephant, airplane and parachute. The man really can do it all! 



Race Around the World

Compared to the rest of the world, Antarctica at the best of times is a whole lot quieter, with Christmas being no exception. The residents here are researchers passing through on their studies, but this doesn’t stop them from making it home during the festive season. Workers at the American Amundsen/Scott Base created the tradition of racing around the pole on Christmas day. They use a variety of transport for the two-mile course, and on the 25th of December cross every time zone around the world! Santa, is that you? 



A Year-Long Endeavour – Tanzania

Across Africa, Christmas isn’t dissimilar from what we know in the UK: decorations, church services and a lot of food. So perhaps one of the bigger differences is in Tanzania, in which the head of the festive feast takes a little longer than a few hours in the oven. In January, families will buy a goat or cow which they spend the entire year fattening up, ready for slaughter on Christmas Eve. 


North America 

Elfapalooza – Mobile, Alabama

Ever fancied yourself a Guinness World Record? Perhaps a trip across the pond is needed, as in recent years the residents of Mobile, Alabama, take it upon themselves to dress up as elves to try and break the record for ‘most Santa’s elves in one place’. Currently, the title is still held by Bangkok, but could this be their year? 


South America 

Chocolatada – Peru 

With Christmas spirit in the air, Peru leads the way in the act of giving. Chocolatada sees corporations big and small giving sweet treats to the more rural, disadvantaged communities of the region. Groups will queue up for their little package and with it, a reminder that they are not forgotten. 


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