How Christmas is Celebrated Around the World
Christmas, the most wonderful time of the year, is a special event that transcends borders, cultures, and languages. While the core of Christmas remains the same – celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ – the customs and traditions associated with it vary widely across the globe. In this blog post, Interhampers will take you on a global journey to explore Christmas around the world and discover how it is celebrated in various countries, from the land down under to the heart of Europe and beyond.
Let's begin our global Christmas tour in the southern hemisphere, where Christmas falls during the height of summer. In Australia, it's a season of surf, sun, and sand. While Australians enjoy the warm summer days and nights during the holiday season, they also love to exchange gifts as a symbol of love, appreciation, and togetherness. Gift hampers, beautifully arranged with an assortment of gourmet delights, have grown to become an essential part of Australian Christmas celebrations.
These hampers are thoughtfully created to suit various tastes and preferences, making them a popular choice for sharing the joy of Christmas with friends, family, and even colleagues. A typical Australian gift hamper might include an array of authentic Australian products such as premium wines, artisan chocolates, and other mouthwatering treats.
Another iconic Australian tradition is the "Carols by Candlelight" festivities that occur around the nation. Families gather in parks and public spaces, holding candles and singing classic Christmas carols under the warm summer night sky.
Australians also love to decorate their homes and gardens with Christmas lights, often creating extravagant displays that attract visitors from near and far. Aussies have also adopted their own Christmas tree – the native Norfolk Pine – which they decorate with lots of ornaments and tinsel.
Christmas lunch can be a simple BBQ, or an enormous feast that offers the traditional roast turkey, succulent ham, and other quality meats, as well as seafood, including prawns, lobsters, and oysters. It's a unique blend of tradition and adaptation to the local climate.
Now, let's head to the heart of Europe, where Germany is renowned for its enchanting Christmas markets, or "Weihnachtsmärkte." These markets, dating back to the Middle Ages, are a central part of German Christmas traditions. They are held in town squares and feature stalls selling handmade crafts, ornaments, and delicious treats like roasted nuts, gingerbread cookies, and mulled wine.
The Christmas tree, or "Tannenbaum," is believed to have originated in Germany. Families decorate their Christmas trees with ornaments, tinsel, and candles. A unique German tradition is the Advent calendar, which counts down the days until Christmas, often with small gifts or chocolates hidden behind each door.
On Christmas Eve, it's customary for Germans to exchange gifts, and many attend a church service. St. Nicholas, known as "der Nikolaus," visits homes and leaves small gifts or treats for children who have been good, while "Krampus" is said to punish those who have been naughty.
Greece, a country steeped in rich history and culture, celebrates Christmas with a blend of ancient traditions and Christian customs. Christmas, known as "Christougenna" in Greek, is a time of family gatherings, festive feasting, and vibrant decorations.
One of the most cherished Greek traditions is the singing of Greek Christmas carols, known as "Kalanda." Children and adults alike go door to door, singing these carols to their neighbours and friends. It's a heartwarming custom that fosters a sense of community and togetherness during the holiday season.
Greek Orthodox Christians attend Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, and the service is a solemn and joyous occasion. After the service, it's common for families to return home for a grand feast. Traditional dishes like roast lamb, "yiouvetsi" (a pasta and meat casserole), and "melomakarona" (honey cookies) are enjoyed. One of the highlights of the meal is the cutting of Saint Basil’s cake (Vasilopita), a special cake baked with a hidden coin inside. It is believed that whoever finds the coin in their slice will have good luck in the coming year.
In Greece, you'll also find beautifully decorated Christmas boats, known as "karavakia," adorning town squares, harkening back to the country's maritime heritage. Christmas in Greece is a time of reflection, celebration, and deep-rooted traditions that highlight the enduring spirit of the season.
In Japan, Christmas is not a national holiday, but it's celebrated in a unique and fascinating way. Christmas Eve is considered a romantic holiday, with couples often going on dates and exchanging gifts. It's not uncommon to see Christmas-themed decorations and illuminations throughout the country.
One of the most interesting Japanese Christmas traditions is eating fried chicken from Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC). This unusual tradition began as a marketing campaign by KFC in the 1970s and has since become a widespread custom. Families often pre-order their KFC meals weeks in advance to avoid long lines on Christmas Eve.
In recent years, Christmas cakes, typically sponge cakes adorned with strawberries and whipped cream, have also become a popular holiday treat in Japan.
Heading across the ocean to North America, Mexico celebrates Christmas with a mix of religious and cultural traditions. One of the most significant customs is the "Posadas," a reenactment of Mary and Joseph's search for shelter in Bethlehem. Posadas take place over nine nights, from December 16th to 24th. People go from house to house, singing carols and asking for lodging, only to be eventually welcomed into one home for a festive gathering.
In Mexico, the nativity scene, or "Nacimiento," takes centre stage in homes and public spaces. It's customary to add figures representing Mary and Joseph to the scene on Christmas Eve, symbolising their arrival in Bethlehem. Another cherished tradition is the "Nochebuena" feast, which often includes dishes like tamales, bacalao (salted cod), and ponche (a warm fruit punch).
In the United States, Christmas is celebrated with a blend of religious and secular customs. Many Americans attend church services on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, while others focus on the secular aspects of the event.
Santa Claus plays a central role in American Christmas traditions. Children eagerly await his arrival on Christmas Eve to deliver gifts. Families often set out cookies and milk for Santa and leave carrots for his reindeer. The Christmas tree, typically adorned with lights, ornaments, and a star or angel on top, is a cherished symbol of the holiday.
Decorating homes with colourful lights and holiday displays is a common tradition, and some neighbourhoods are famous for their extravagant Christmas light displays, drawing visitors from miles away.
In Sweden, Christmas traditions are deeply rooted in folklore. One of the most cherished customs is the celebration of St. Lucia's Day on December 13th. Young girls dress in white gowns with red sashes and wear wreaths with candles on their heads. They then go from house to house, singing traditional songs and bringing light to the dark winter nights.
A Swedish Christmas dinner often includes dishes like "Julskinka" (Christmas ham), "Gravadlax" (cured salmon), and "Janssons frestelse" (Jansson's Temptation, a creamy potato dish). A popular beverage during the holidays is "glögg", a mulled wine often served with gingerbread cookies.
In India, where Christians make up a minority of the population, Christmas is celebrated with great enthusiasm. Major cities like Mumbai and Delhi are adorned with Christmas lights and decorations, creating a festive atmosphere.
One unique Indian Christmas tradition is the use of banana or mango trees instead of traditional Christmas trees. These trees are decorated with colourful paper ornaments and candles. In some regions, like Goa, you'll find large nativity scenes called "cribs" that are beautifully decorated and illuminated.
In recent years, exchanging gifts and attending midnight Mass have become common Christmas customs in India, influenced by Western traditions.
This was our look at Christmas around the world. A Global event celebrated by people of all cultures. Each love to offer a gift and most definitely love to receive a gift. It is the most special time of the year where such a genuine gesture of gift giving and receiving is most appreciated.
Interhampers Christmas Gift Ideas
1. Season’s Greetings Gift Hamper
The Season's Greetings Gift Box by Interhampers is a festive delight, perfect for ushering in the holiday season. This beautifully designed Santa motif gift box is brimming with a delectable assortment of treats, including almond biscotti, macadamia shortbread, BBQ mix, fruitcake, chocolates, and more. It's a delightful way to spread holiday cheer and share delicious moments with loved ones.
2. White Christmas Gift Box
The White Christmas Gift Box is a beautifully presented holiday gift. Adorned with Christmas decor ribbon and a bow, it's filled with holiday delights, including Yalumba Sauvignon Blanc, rich chocolate chunk biscuits, macadamia shortbread, Rice Crackers, Belgian chocolate hearts, BBQ mix, a Christmas fruit cake, English Breakfast tea, and Ferrero Rocher chocolates. This delightful hamper promises a celebration filled with wine, chocolates, and more, making it a cherished holiday favourite.
3. Merry Christmas Red Gift Box
The Merry Christmas Red Giftbox is a delightful holiday gift. This beautifully designed textured gift box, adorned with a festive bow, contains a selection of Australian-made Christmas treats and a special McLaren Vale Shiraz. Inside, you'll find chocolates, shortbread, fruitcake, mixed nuts, mint chocolates, mini melting moments, wafer crackers, milk chocolate chunk cookies, and chocolate caramel popcorn. It's the perfect way to spread holiday cheer, and your friends will surely appreciate this thoughtful gift.
4. Picnic Perfect Gift Hamper
The Picnic Perfect Gift Hamper has it all for a romantic picnic for two! It includes a classic gingham-lined picnic basket with a two-person picnic setting and a waterproof-backed picnic rug. Inside, you'll find Yellowglen Alessandra Vintage Pinot Noir Chardonnay and Yalumba Y Series Shiraz Voignier, plus a variety of tasty treats like honeycomb cubes, fruit cake, cheese bites, BBQ mix, cashews, crackers, chocolate caramel popcorn, shortbread, quince paste, and Lindt chocolates. It's the perfect picnic companion!
5. Ultimate Gift Hamper
The Ultimate Gift Hamper is an opulent delight, nestled within an elegant designer chest featuring a charming weave design. It's the perfect choice to impress friends and colleagues. Inside, you'll discover an array of spirits, wines, and gourmet treats. From The Glenlivet Founder's Reserve Scotch Whisky to Blind Tiger Organic Gin, Veuve Clicquot Champagne, Baileys Irish Cream, Penfolds Max's Cabernet Sauvignon, and a convenient Stainless Steel BBQ Tool Set – this hamper has it all.
Sweet indulgences include premium Christmas pudding, Ferrero Rocher chocolates, almond bread, Lindt Swiss Chocolate, and more. For savory cravings, enjoy Nature's Delight Pistachios, Cashews, crisp lavosh, and delightful Island Berry Chocolate Sauce. There's also a selection of biscuits, cookies, jam, fruitcake, and Impra Pure Ceylon Black Tea. The Ultimate Gift Hamper elevates any occasion with its luxurious offerings, making it an ideal choice for special celebrations or corporate gifting.