In What Ways Do Other Countries Celebrate Christmas?

Christmas is much more than just an American holiday. Christmas is celebrated in many countries around the world. While there are many common ways that we celebrate Christmas, every country has its own special ways that it celebrates the holiday.

Santa Claus is one of those nearly-universal Christmas icons, although he goes by a different name in many countries. In England, for example, he is called “Father Christmas.” In Brazil, he is called “Papai Noel.” In France, “Père Noël.” In Germany, “Der Weihnachtsmann.” In Belgium, he is “Sinterklaas.” In some countries, Santa Claus brings gifts on Christmas Eve. In Finalnd, for example, one family member usually dresses up like Father Christmas and distributes presents to the children. In Germany, ‘Der Weihnachtsmann’ brings Christmas presents on Christmas Eve day, often when the family has gone to church. In Hungary, Santa comes on December 6th and deposits candies or small toys into the children’s’ shoes.

Many countries, particularly where the Eastern Orthodox Church is dominant, celebrate Christmas earlier in December. The difference comes from their use of the older calendar for figuring religious holidays. In some countries, the full “twelve days of Christmas,” giving gifts daily from Christmas eve through the end of the festival.

The Christmas meal is celebrated differently in different countries as well. In Belgium, a special sweet bread shaped like the baby Jesus is served for breakfast. In Finland, people eat rice porridge on Christmas Eve, and Christmas dinner usually includes casseroles with things like macaroni, carrots, potato, and rutabaga. In Germany, Carp or Goose is often served on Christmas day. In New Zealand, at midnight on Christmas eve, they eat a special dish made of salted, dried codfish with boiled potatoes. On Christmas day, they might have turkey with the trimmings, and a Barbecue later in the day. In Russia, Christmas dishes include cakes, pies, and dumplings with meat. In Sweden, a special meal is served on Christmas eve, consisting of ham, herring, and brown beans. In Transylvania, they had stuffed cabbage on Christmas eve and then again for lunch on Christmas after attending Church.

In many countries, unlike the United States, Christmas is observed as primarily a religious holiday, as opposed to a secular or mixed one. People attend Church at various times, including a midnight mass on Christmas eve, morning services on Christmas day, or even services on every day of the twelve-day season.


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