Best Christmas Customs by Country
Christmas customs vary from country to country. Christmas celebrations for many nations include setting up and lighting the Christmas tree, hanging Christmas wreaths, Christmas ornaments, candy and creating the Nativity scene depicting the birth of Jesus.
The Christmas carols ring and stories about baby Jesus, St. Nicholas, Santa Claus and Father Christmas are told. Christmas also includes the exchange of Christmas greeting cards, the burning of logs and the exchange of gifts.
Along with Easter, Christmas is one of the most important periods in the Christian calendar and is often closely associated with other holidays such as St. Nicholas’ Day, St. Stephen’s Day, New Year’s Day and Epiphany Day.
Birthday Wishes Star is here to give you the top information about the best Christmass Customs by Country.
England and Christmas Customs
English classical décor includes bright red Alexandrians around the fireplace, as well as mistletoe branches hanging from the ceiling that, according to tradition, anyone standing underneath must exchange kisses with loved ones. For the English, it’s not meant to be a festive Christmas table without turkey, pie and Christmas pudding for good luck, like burgers with hog sauce.
Belgium and Christmas Customs
Belgium is getting into the Christmas spirit early on with Sinterklaas Day and with its valuable assistant Zwarte Piet handing out gifts from house to house. The children hang the socks on the fireplace and leave hay and sugar for the Sinterklaas horse. Sinterklaas is Santa Claus or otherwise Santa Claus.
In Belgium, Christmas is also celebrated with numerous performances of artistic scenes from the Nativity as well as liturgies and even outdoor markets.
Christmas in France is the culmination of the year. Unlike other European countries, the pre-Christmas season is quite important and very family-friendly. Christmas Eve here is a working day. In the evening, the family comes together for a complete Christmas dinner. Père Noël (Father of Christmas), according to the French Santa Claus, gives his presents on December 24th.
Gastronomic delights are of great importance in Christmas celebrations. The traditional Reveillon feast consists primarily of seafood and mainly oysters; all markets are also packed with a wide variety of oysters. Today at 25 they eat turkey And this custom has today been put into the programs of all hotel units in Europe and not only but also New Year’s Eve.
The French Alexandrian known red flowers call them Le poinsettia ou étoile de Noël (Christmas Stars) and use them for interior decoration as well as as a gift throughout the holidays.
In Germany, the time before Christmas is very important. For families with Christmas cookies, Christmas cakes are the traditional customs of the season. Also characteristic are the Christmas markets in the center of each city that appear from the first weekend of December and end on Christmas Eve.
The Christmas Market counter has sweets, ornaments and hot red sweet wine with spices. On December 6th is celebrated St. Nicolas (St. Nicholas) who is similar to the Saint Basil in the custom of gifts. In his folklore edition he brings gifts to good children, but also a bundle of rods to show children who were not wise.
The Germans put a lot of weight on decorating their homes during the Christmas holidays. Around the windows they place electric candles or lamps and place colorful Christmas figures in the windows, while in the garden they adorn a real planted fir tree with lamps.
There is also a custom in Germany called Adventskranz. It is a candlestick made of fir branches that are braided to form a wreath. At the top of the wreath are four candle posts, symbolizing the last four weeks before Christmas. Every Sunday they light a candle above, counting down the time left for Christmas to come. That is, four weeks before Christmas a candle is lit, the next week two, the next three, and finally the last Sunday before Christmas, four candles are lit.
In all schools from kindergarten to high school there is a theatrical Christmas party with children exchanging gifts. This custom is called Wichteln and it is also loved at Christmas big celebrations. Each one brings one or more gifts wrapped in paper and puts them together under the Christmas tree.
When the time comes, one by one they all pass under the tree and receive a gift until they are finished. Companies are organizing a Christmas table for all employees. So do the clubs, and the friends, who meet for the traditional Christmas party.
Adventskalender Christmas Calendar
Another pre-Christmas custom is the Adventskalender Christmas Calendar. It is a calendar with 24 places numbered from 1 to 24 and symbolizes the days of December before Christmas. Seats are closed with doors. Every day they open the door and find a surprise that can be a little chocolate, candy, toy, etc …
The gifts are brought by Weihnachtsmann or Christkind on Christmas Eve. This custom was initiated by the Lutheran Reformation to give a more festive form to the day of Christ’s birth.
The Christmas tree adorns it on Christmas Eve. In most houses under the tree there is also the traditional manger. The tree is decorated with figures (angels etc), or with balloons and illuminated with candles lit or with lamps. The gifts are hidden under the tree and next to the manger, for the children to find when they return from church.
On Christmas Day the family celebrates around the rich table, while on Christmas Day the relatives all gather and celebrate together in the afternoon. Traditional Christmas food is roast goose (Weihnachtsganz) with red cabbage (Rotkohl) and potato balls (Klösse). Other traditional foods are trout and carp.
Shortly after Christmas we find the custom of the three magicians. From December 27th until January 6th, little kids dressed in three magicians go from house to house singing. They represent the three magicians returning from Bethlehem.
Whoever opens their door donates sweets and nuts, while giving money for their fundraiser. In return the three magicians chalk their initials (ie Caspar, Mejor, and Baltazar) and the current year, e.g. 20 * C + M + B + 08. This graffiti is considered to bring luck and therefore it is not extinguished, so in some homes we find the signatures of magicians for decades.
In Denmark, before Christmas, many handmade ornaments for home decoration are made. Most families make their own traditional Alexandrian wreath with four candles symbolizing the four Sundays until Christmas.
Apart from the wreath of small red or beige Alexandrian wreaths, twigs and shiny ornaments there is also a ‘candle custom’ which is especially popular with children and serves as a diary. Each child has a candle which is divided by horizontal lines or numbers on the days corresponding to Christmas. Every day the candle is lit until the next line approaches. This is how the day will come for him to receive his gift.
The Christmas season in Denmark is also accompanied by the much needed, and very scandalous, “Julenisser” gingerbreads.
Christmas Eve is celebrated with a traditional table among relatives. A large almond hides in the Danish sweet. The lucky one to find it is rewarded with the so-called “gift of almond”.
In Switzerland, the four weeks before Christmas are celebrated with rich traditional customs, such as a festive wreath and a Christmas calendar.
The “Samichlaus” as it is called on the German side of Switzerland, Saint Nicholas distributes sweets and gifts to children on 6 December. Christmas Eve is characterized by various customs, such as that of the Tree, the roses, the festive table and the Christmas function.
In Greece Christmas is one of the biggest religious holidays of the Greeks. Throughout the country, children roam from house to house to say Christmas, New Year’s and Epiphany eve, while at twelve at midnight they light fires to chase away geysers, mostly in the countryside.
Before Christmas, a four-day fast is preceded by the faithful fasting meat and dairy but eating fish until December 17 (except of course Wednesday and Friday). From 17 to 23 December the fish is not catalyzed. On Christmas Eve no oil or wine is shed (unless it falls on a Saturday or Sunday).
From Christmas to Epiphany everything is poured out, even on Wednesdays and Fridays, except for the Epiphany eve, where no oil and wine is poured (unless it falls on a Saturday or Sunday). Many Churches also have the Lenten service (40 Divine Liturgies before Christmas).
n Greece, where pork is the main Christmas dish, there is also the custom of a Christmas boat, but in Chios it is a local New Year’s custom made with boat models.
Even today in the Peloponnese the tradition of Christmastime is maintained, where every Christmas the housewives make a bread that is cross-embroidered and rolled on the table on Christmas day. If it falls from its opposite side, the year will go bad and if it falls from the good, the year will go well.
Christmas Eve or “Noche Buena” is the night when the whole family comes together. The rooms are decorated with pine branches, beige and red Alexandrian and lit candles to give an atmosphere and color to the atmosphere. After the Christmas table featuring local specialties, the Christmas Lunch follows.
The famous rooster Misa del Gallo reminds the collector that by tradition he was the first to announce the joyful message of the Nativity of Jesus. On January 5, during a large parade called “Cabalgata de Reyes,” people dressed as the Three Magicians and other forms of religion throw sweet treats at children. The celebration ends on January 6, the day of the Epiphany, during which the Three Magi bring gifts to children, always according to tradition.
In Italy the Christmas season is the longest of all Christian countries. It starts on December 8 and ends on January 6, the day of the Epiphany. During this time the houses are decorated with Alexandrian, traditional Christmas mulberry trees and other colorful decorative ornaments.
Some are accustomed to fasting on December 23 and 24 and then celebrate with a traditional meal immediately after the Mass. On December 25, after a traditional lunch, children are accustomed to reciting poems to their families and relatives and are rewarded with small cash prizes.
Another important date for the holidays is January 6th, when the famous Befana, the good old and poor witch, arrives and eats nuts and cookies left by the children and before flying away, arrives at night (January 5-6). leaves gifts in gift socks, charcoal for naughty kids and sweets and games for the prudent.
In addition to the Christmas tree, an important symbol of the Italians in celebrating Christmas is the Nativity Manger that reminds of the Assisi Francis, who was the first to create a statue of Christmas. All characters except Divine Infant have been placed in the manger since December 8, while the newborn is placed shortly after midnight on December 24.
The Scandinavian “Jul” (Christmas) are rooted in ancient winter customs and harvest season. Julenissen, as the Norwegian Santa Claus is called, along with his assistants bring gifts and good fortune to the house and stables.
On Christmas Eve, children pour a bowl of flour bun to offer to Julenissen, who visits the children of Norway, completing his long journey from Lapland to the reindeer sled.
Christmas Day is called Julbrod, during which up to 60 different dishes were prepared for friends, relatives and, of course, the family.
The Christmas season in the Netherlands begins with a tradition that originally had nothing to do with Christmas. Saint Nicholas Day is the culmination of the festive season. According to legend, Saint Nicholas, called “SinterKlaas” arrives in the Netherlands in November, three weeks before his birthday.
His ship is loaded with presents, welcomed in port by Queen Beatrix accompanied by a multitude of people. (Of course this custom goes back to the time when the Netherlands was colonial, and Christmas products came from its colonies).
In the days that follow, SinterKlaas spins around the country with his assistant Zwarten Piet (Black Pit or Black Pit). Kids in the Netherlands get their presents on December 5th. Christmas trees are decorated everywhere after SinterKlaas has left the country.
Alexandrians are also part of the festive decoration here.
In Poland, the period preceding Christmas is particularly important as young people and adults are consciously tempted (mainly by sweets) in their quest for inner peace and harmony.
Their homes and rooms look fabulous with rich Christmas decorations. Here, too, red or blue Alexandrians are used in traditional Polish decoration combined with pine branches.
Christmas Eve is considered the most important day of the holidays. After a day of fasting, the family, from the oldest to the youngest, gather at the festive table that is specially decorated for the occasion while the white tablecloth is considered necessary.
Once the first star appears in the sky the holiday can begin. The celebration begins with the Christmas biscuit being distributed, as a sign of love and reconciliation, accompanied by an exchange of warm wishes.
At the table there is always an empty plate in case a visitor unexpectedly appears. The gifts are placed under the Christmas tree and are offered by the youngest.
Unlike the Anglo-Saxon tradition, gifts are not intended for designated persons so they are chosen to be of general interest or use.
On the night of December 5th the children in Romania take their shoes off and the next day Saint Nicholas fills them with his elves and the shoes of the good children with sweets and gifts while the bad children with charcoal and rods ( they point them).
The celebrations in Sweden start on December 13th with Lucia’s day, which according to legend is the longest night of the year and so people and animals need more food.
At home, Lucia (Queen of Light) finds her expression in the face of the eldest daughter of the family. She is wearing a long white dress and a crown with candles in her hair. She wakes up her parents, singing the traditional Italian song “Santa Lucia” and gets them coffee, shortbreads and sometimes glogg (hot wine with spices).
Elections are also being held for the selection of Lucia to lead the grand parade in Stockholm.
The custom of the Christmas tree, came to Sweden from Germany already in the 1700s, but has spread throughout the country over the last century. Today, however, a tree is decorated in all households.
The highlight of the festivities is also in Sweden, Christmas Eve. The Christmas table features traditional dishes such as ham, pork jelly, lutfisk and rice porridge. Lutfisk (sun-dried hake served in a creamy sauce) is probably a remnant of fasting before the Reformation.
Also of interest is the custom of doppa i grytan, in which all family members dip black bread in a saucepan of pork, sausage and veal. At a symbolic level it is the reflection – amid the abundance – of those in need and hunger.
After eating, everyone is gathered around the Christmas tree to open their gifts. The gifts are brought by Jultomten, an elf who lives in the attic, if any, and is similar to Nisse in Denmark. Jultomten protects her family and her life. Today, in many households a disguised elf visits the house loaded with a huge bag full of gifts.
Traditionally, the Swedes stayed in the church until Christmas morning, while in the past the race to or from the church was customary and the winner was considered the lucky of the year …
The celebrations in Sweden officially end on January 13th. The reason is that when Knut was king of the country, about 1000 years ago, he decided that Christmas celebrations should last 20 days instead of 12 !!!
In the Czech Republic, December 4th, the day of St. Barbara’s Day, is dedicated to the witness of the period of the first persecutions of Christians. Chora branches are cut from end to end in Chora and kept in water. If they have bloomed by Christmas they bring good luck and possibly favorable prospects for a wedding next year.
The cherry twigs, along with small Alexandrian plants and other festive ornaments, are placed in wicker baskets, combining traditional and modern style creations that adorn the festive table.
In Finland December 24th is the most important day of the Christmas season. The festivities begin at noon, so according to medieval tradition Christmas peace is called upon to be celebrated in every town in the Turku city of Finland.
Candles and seasonal ornamental plants such as the “Alexandrian” create the perfect atmosphere for celebrating Christmas in a family-friendly environment.
Traditionally this day is dedicated to the memory of the dead and a visit to the cemetery on Christmas Eve is a traditional tradition. During that night the snow-covered cemeteries are transformed into spectacular bright seas of candles.
Christmas in Finland, apart from its religious dimension, is a family celebration, men do not dare to visit escorts that specific day. Preparations are made long ago. The Christmas season begins in December or even in late November, when shops begin to advertise various gifts. Beautiful decorations and songs are becoming more and more popular as Christmas approaches and children count down the days for the big celebration with special calendars. The day before Christmas eve (aatonaatto) is a holiday day for schools and other public places, and on eve (jouluaatto) the shops close early. Christmas Day and its aftermath (Tapaninpaina, “St. Stephen’s Ray”) are mandatory public holidays in Finland. Schools continue their holidays until the new year.
Since the Middle Ages, the Christmas Peace Declaration has been celebrated, a tradition that is celebrated every year, except for 1939, which was not celebrated because of the Finnish-Russian war. This is a custom in many towns and cities. The most famous of these declarations takes place in the old great square called Old Great Square in the town of Turku, the former capital of Finland. From there it is broadcast live on Finnish radio (since 1935) and on television.
The proclamation begins with the anthem “Jumala ompi linnamme” (in English: Martin Luther’s A Mighty Fortress Is Our God) and continues with the Declaration of Christmas Peace, which is read by a parchment.
The ceremony ends with trumpets playing the Finnish national anthem “Maamme and Potilaister marssi” with the crowds singing as the band plays. Nowadays, Christmas Peace is also proclaimed for the animals of the forest and thus stops hunting during Christmas in many cities and municipalities.
Finns do general cleaning before Christmas and prepare special dishes for the festive season. A bunch of nuts, cereals and seeds are tied to a pole in the garden to feed the birds. People cut or buy fir trees to decorate them before Christmas Eve. The “Christmas tree” is traditionally decorated with shining candles, apples and other fruits, candies, flags, cotton and sequins. Various baubles are also added, such as stars and balls. The candles are no longer used and have been replaced with lamps.
A star symbolizing the star of Bethlehem is placed at the top of the tree. Shortly before the start of Christmas festivities, people get used to having a steam bath (sauna). This tradition is very old, as opposed to the usual days where one would take a steam bath in the evening, Christmas Eve before sunrise. This tradition is based on an idea that existed before the 20th century, in which the spirits of the dead returned and made a steam bath.
They then dress in clean clothes for Christmas dinner, which is usually served between 5-7 pm or more traditionally with the appearance of the first star in the sky. The most traditional meal of the Finnish Christmas dinner is pork or roast pig and alternatively turkey. Many types of cookware are also popular. Other traditional Christmas dishes include boiled cod and served with herring, pickles and vegetables. The most popular desserts are plum jams, fruit soups, cinnamon rice porridge, sugar and cold milk.
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