How Do Countries Around The World Celebrate Christmas? Part 2

Welcome back to our second post discussing how countries around the world celebrate Christmas. Before we begin, if you haven’t seen out first part, you can check out how some of the countries celebrate Christmas here! While this list is non-exhaustive as there’s no physical way to write about every country, we hope that our curated selection of countries give enough of a wide cultural scope for you to explore how the other side of the world celebrates Christmas! 

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Germans decorate their table with Adventskranz, or advent wreaths, during the Christmas period. Traditionally, each of the four candles surrounding the wreath are lit on each Sunday of December, with the centre lit on Christmas itself. Much like the rest of the world, putting up Christmas trees and decorating it as a family are the norm in Germany. However, the Christmas tree is usually only brought into the house on Christmas eve, and decorated last. Christmas markets are also common in Germany, with a variety of Christmas food and decorations sold there. The most p[opular Christmas decoration is a glass ornament, but many German households will also be decorated with lots of Christmas angels. Children often dress up as wise man and go from door to door singing and raising funds in another popular tradition known as the Sternsinger (star singers). During the Christmas meal, traditionally, roast goose with potato dumplings and red cabbage is served, now, carp or goose is usually served as the main course, with stollen, a popular fruit bread is also enjoyed during the meal, and paired with a popular Christmas beverage known as the Feuerzangenbowle, consisting of red wine, juices and spices and is lighted up in a fireproof bowl. 

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Before we even begin exploring Christmas traditions in Jamaica, it’s important to note that Christmas is usually the biggest family occasion in Jamaica. As such, the celebrations start in early December, stretching out all the way to New Year’s Day, with many partaking in family gatherings and parties. As usual, Christmas lights, or “pepper lights”, are decorated along the streets and palm trees in the towns and cities. The Grand Market tradition occurs on Christmas Eve, which is a market that allows Jamaicans to do last minute shopping as well as to buy Christmas decor, clothing and food. In the morning, the market starts as a place that allows people to buy Christmas food and toys, before formally transforming to the Grand Market in the evening, spanning a shopping window until the next morning. After their last minute shopping at the Grand Market, some people either party through the night or go to church for a midnight mass. Either way, most people will go for church service on Christmas morning before the Grand Market officially ends. A Jamaican Christmas meal is usually consumed in the morning unlike most countries. Their Christmas breakfast consists of ackee and saltfish, breadfruit, boiled bananas, fried plantain, accompanied by delicately served fruit juices and tea. In the evening, Christmas dinner is served with roast chicken, curry goat, stewed oxtail with rice and peas. Traditionally, Jamaican red wine and rum fruitcake (Jamaica Christmas cake) is often eaten in most Jamaican homes. The fruitcake is pre-soaked in red wine and rum for a few months before Christmas 

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Another European destination on our list, but the first Scandinavian one! Much like many other countries, Nowegians exchange their Christmas presents on Christmas Eve. However, unique to Norway, most of the decorations actually occur on Christmas Eve, rather than Christmas Day itself. In some villages, small presents are given on each day of December leading up to Christmas instead of one big Christmas Eve gift. In various parts of Norway, children go carolling and often dress up as characters such as wise men. One standout Norwegian tradition is to light a candle every night from Christmas Eve until New Year’s Day, with the days usually spent meeting up with friends and family for brunches and dinners. The most famous custom is the gigantic Christmas tree that Norway gifts to the UK as a gesture of gratitude for the help they received from the Kingdom during WWII. The trees are placed in Trafalgar Square in London, and the event of turning on the lights is often observed by thousands. Rather than the circular wreaths found around the world, the Norwegians actually prefer heart shaped Christmas decor. For example, instead of round ornaments, Norwegian Christmas trees are often decorated with heart-shaped paper baskets instead, known as “julekurver”. The most popular Christmas Eve dinner selection in norway features ribbe (pork rib or pork belly), lutefisk (cod cured in lye), pinnekjøtt (dry-cured lamb ribs),as well as roast ham and turkey. Norwegians also enjoy pairing their delicious feast with juleøl (christmas beer) and gløgg (spiced, mulled wine or spirit), followed by a popular bread known as “julekake”, baked with raisins, candied peel and cardamom. Families then consume Risengrynsgrøt (rice porridge), with one lucky family member who finds the boiled almond in their bowl being awarded a marzipan pig.

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Do you know how Halloween acts as a sort of barrier to prevent Christmas decorations and preparations from encroaching earlier into the year? Well, not in the Philippines. Filipinos like to celebrate Christmas for as long as reasonably possible, and it really shows, as Christmas carols can be heard in malls as early as September. Officially, though, Christmas celebrations start on the 16th of December, where many Filipinos go for Simbang Gabi (night mass). Filipinos attend mass either late at night, or early in the morning before Christmas. They also try to attend all 9 days of mass as it is believed that attending all 9 masses grants them a wish. A traditional Christmas ornament unique to the Philippines is the parol, a star surrounded by a circle. Two popular Christmas delicacies that Filipinos consume every year without fail is the bibingka (Baked in claypots and leaves) and puto bumbong (steamed in bamboo tubes), both of which are variations of rice cakes. Filipino children are accompanied by adults during their yearly Christmas carols. Misa de Gallo is the first mass after Simbang Gabi, and is a celebration that includes lighting of candles and re-enactment of the story of how Jesus was born. Fillipions welcome Christmas day with Noche Buena, a traditional Filipino Christmas meal which consists of lechon (roasted pork), queso de bola (cheese), ham, spaghetti and fruit salad. Gift exchanges in the Philippines are more special, as gift givers will first describe who the gift is for while everyone else guesses before finally revealing their giftee(?). Afterwards, Filipinos have one more feast known as the Media Noche, where the table is filled with food formed specially into circular shapes with an assortment of 12 round fruits as circles are commonly believed to bring good fortune. Christmas celebrations in the Philippines will come to an official close in January, after they celebrate the feast of the three kings (Epiphany).

We hope you’ve learnt more about how countries around the world celebrate Christmas! We also have to give huge thanks to WhyChristmas, who share an impressive knowledge of Christmas celebrations around the world. Read more of our blogs here, and be sure to check out more of our Christmas special articles!

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