Christmas is the perfect time to continue old traditions passed through generations or start new ones with your family. There are so many traditions out there, even just within the UK, but have you given thought to those practiced around the world? We have put together some of our favourite traditions from around the world, that should give you a few ideas to start with or to just learn about the different cultures from around the world.
Every year in the lead up to Christmas, Icelanders have the tradition of giving books to each other as gifts on Christmas Eve and then spend the evening reading their new books. This tradition began during World War 2, and it is so popular in the months running up to Christmas, it is known as “Jolabokaflod”, which translates to the Christmas Book Flood. It is the perfect cosy evening to relax, reading into the evening, before the Christmas festivities get under way.
The cuisine of Japan is very healthy so you may expect their Christmas food to be equally nutritious, so it may surprise you to know that Japanese people celebrate Christmas by eating at KFC. It’s a big tradition, with many of the fast food joints taking bookings for tables, as it gets that busy. There are not many Christians in Japan, so it is still not seen as a religious holiday, and many people often still work through the day. Christmas Eve is often thought of as a romantic day, with it being more akin to Valentines Day here in the UK. Young couples like to go for walks looking at the festive lights and they often exchange presents and have a romantic meal in a restaurant.
In Malawi and the less westernized areas of Africa, the main focus of the day is going to church. Groups of children go door to door to perform dances in exchange for money, much like carol singers do. After church it is tradition to visit the homes of family and friends, stopping at each one to eat and bring gifts to the host, which can sometimes go on into the night.
From December 16th to Christmas Eve, it is tradition for children to perform the Posada Procession. Posada is English for Inn or Lodging and celebrates the part of the Christmas story where Joseph and Mary looked for somewhere to stay. There are 9 Posada’s and one is performed on each night, and houses are usually decorated with evergreens, moss and paper lanterns. For each posada children carry candles and a board with painted clay figures of Mary, riding on a donkey, and Joseph. They call at the homes of friends and family and sing a song asking for a place to stay, once they are welcomed into the house they say a prayer of thanks and then have a party with food, fireworks and party games, which includes a piñata. Each night a different house holds the Posada party. Once the final party on Christmas Eve has finished, friends and family will walk to church for the Christmas Eve service.
One of the largest Indian Christian communities is in Mumbai. Midnight Mass plays a very important role for Christians in India, with churches decorated with Poinsettia flowers, candles and paper lanterns. After families have returned from Midnight Mass, it is followed by a massive feast of different delicacies, and the giving and receiving of presents. Friends and families visit each other’s homes to wish them on Christmas Day, with homemade treats and delicacies. The main meal is eaten on Christmas Day, where families gather together to celebrate.