Christmas customs around the world

The 12 ways of Christmas: how different countries will be celebrating

By TTM on 26 November 2009 in News

Ever wondered how Christmas is celebrated around the world? Online travel agent Sunshine  reveals how other cultures will be marking the occasion this year.

Christmas starts early in Hungary; on the eve of December 6th, Children clean their shoes and put them outside near a window or door before they go to sleep. In the morning, candies or small toys appear in them in red bags. It’s tradition that children visit relatives on 24th December, whilst the Christmas tree and more gifts are delivered to their house by angels and ‘Little Jesus’.

In Latvia people believe Father Christmas brings gifts on each of the 12 days of Christmas starting on 24th December, which certainly makes the festive period last longer!

Down under, Christmas Day falls in the summertime and the warm weather means BBQs and Christmas dinner on the local beach. However, decorations still include snow-covered scenes and Christmas trees.

It could surprise some to know that in Italy, Christmas trees aren’t very common at all, as the Italians instead decorate wooden pyramids with fruit.  


Canadians have been known to eat ‘Chicken Bones’ over the Christmas period, something which may not sound like a treat, but is actually pink cinnamon flavoured sweets. Cookie-baking parties are also not uncommon in Canada and things are also sweet in parts of the USA, where some Americans thread popcorn on string to decorate their Christmas trees with.  

In Caracas, the capital of Venezuela, roads are closed off and people traditionally roller-skate to a morning Church service each day between 16th and 24th December. Often, for fun, some younger children tie a piece of string from their big toe and hang it out of the window before bed, so skaters who pass by in the morning on the way to Mass can tug the strings.  

According to tradition in Poland, some families like to have an even number of people seated around the table at Christmas, or superstition has it that someone might die in the coming year. A similar tradition in Portugal sees people setting extra places at the dinner table for the souls of the dead, who if offered food are thought to bring good luck for the next year.

Poland’s Ukrainian neighbours decorate their Christmas trees with artificial spiders and webs, as they believe that if a real web is found in the house on Christmas morning it is a sign of good luck, whilst in France it’s the hanging of mistletoe that is thought to be a good omen.


Geraldo Rivera, Caracas

Who wrote this tripe! People in Caracas live behind locked doors and houses and flats have bars on the windows.
You should get a good guidebook like the excellent Bradt Guide to Venezuela.
Venezuelan Christmas is all about traditional foods like hallacas and pernil, family gatherings, gaitas music and dancing, presents brought by Baby Jesus and lots of fireworks.

2 April, 2012

Andrei Roth, Romania

For Christmas, all homes will prepare cabbage rolls ("sarmale" - similar to the Greek "dolmas") and lots of pork dishes, including blood sausages (yumm).

Christmas eve is always a great social event. Young people roam the streets and visit friends and family and sing Christmas carols upon arrival. In return, the hosts share their great food and liquor. This usually lasts until the early hours of the morning.

27 November, 2009

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