Global Festivities: Embracing Christmas Traditions Around the World

Christmas is a celebration that unites people across cultures and continents, and yet, the festive traditions vary in delightful and unique ways from one corner of the globe to another. Let’s embark on a festive journey and explore some of the enchanting Christmas traditions celebrated around the world.

1. Germany: Christkind and Advent Calendars

In Germany, the Christmas season kicks off with the opening of the first door on Advent calendars. Children eagerly count down the days until Christmas with a daily treat. This tradition began with one man, Gherard Lane, who wanted to recreate the cookie box his mother would make him for the holiday season. He would be allowed to eat one cookie each day. This has evolved now into candy treats, socks, and toys for children, and even some adult versions of the advent calendar can be found on the shelves. In Germany, on Christmas Eve, the Christkind, a golden-haired angelic figure, brings gifts to households, emphasizing the spirit of giving and goodwill.




2. Japan: KFC for Christmas Dinner

While Christmas is not a national holiday in Japan, it has become a unique and widely celebrated occasion. A surprising tradition involves enjoying Kentucky Fried Chicken for Christmas dinner. Thanks to a successful marketing campaign by KFC in the 1970s, families often pre-order their “Christmas Chicken” months in advance. The original KFC in Japan was built in 1970, but it wasn’t until 1974 when they advertised with a slogan that said “Kentucky is Christmas” that the tradition really hit it off. Now, it’s such a large tradition that Japan’s sales around Christmas time account for nearly one third of their yearly sales.





3. Sweden: St. Lucia’s Day Processions

In Sweden, St. Lucia’s Day, celebrated on December 13th, marks the beginning of the Christmas season. Young girls dress in white robes with red sashes, and each wears a crown of candles on her head. The procession, led by a chosen St. Lucia, honors light and symbolizes hope during the darkest time of the year. This festival of lights is actually a combination of both pagan and Christian traditions. It originally was held to celebrate the winter solstice. Particpants would light large bonfires in hopes of chasing away evil spirits. St. Lucia was incorporated into the traditions after Christianity was introduced to the area.




4. Mexico: Las Posadas

In Mexico, the nine-day celebration of Las Posadas (which translates to “The Inns”) begins on December 16th and reenacts Mary and Joseph’s search for shelter in Bethlehem. Families go from house to house, singing traditional songs and asking for “posada” or shelter. This is typically takes the form of a procession, led by children holding lit candles. At each stop, they ask for shelter and are given refreshments. They recite scripture and sing Christmas songs. The celebration concludes with holding mass followed by a festive gathering, including piƱatas and delicious Mexican treats.




5. Australia: Beach Barbecues and Carols by Candlelight

Christmas in Australia falls during the summer, and the warm weather inspires unique traditions. Many Australians celebrate with beach barbecues, picnics, and outdoor activities. One of the most iconic events is “Carols by Candlelight,” where communities gather in parks to sing Christmas carols by the soft glow of candlelight. This tradition was started in 1938 by a radio announcer, Norman Banks. He saw a woman singing carols to herself, her face lit by candles. Wanting to bring these people together so that no one was alone on Christmas, the first Carols by Candlelight was held just after Christmas that year, with over 10,000 attendees.




Embracing Diversity and Unity

These diverse Christmas traditions showcase the richness of global cultures and the universal themes of love, joy, and togetherness. Whether you’re enjoying KFC in Japan, a festive procession in Sweden, or a beach barbecue in Australia, the beauty of Christmas lies in the shared celebration of traditions that bring people closer, fostering a sense of unity that transcends borders. As we exchange cultural practices and revel in the holiday season, let’s appreciate the tapestry of global Christmas traditions that make this time of year truly magical.