How Christmas is Celebrated Around the World

Christmas is celebrated around the world, but the way people observe this holiday varies widely from country to country. Some traditions are so unique, they become one of the defining characteristics of their respective nations.

FriendsEAT has compiled a list of the Top 10 Unique Christmas Celebrations Around the World.

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Instead of the usual pine tree, Ukranians build a tree out of hay in celebration of Christmas.

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1. Ukrainian Christmas Tree of Hay

A surprising Ukrainian Christmas tradition is, instead of using pine trees and other similar plants for décor, they build a tree out of hay, especially among the farming communities.  Hay is used to decorate the Christmas table and to form “Christmas trees” or sculptures of the didukh.  The importance of the hay, especially as a decoration on the Christmas table, is to pay tribute to Christ’s manger in Bethlehem.

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A popular Christmas drink in Dominican Republic is their “Jengibre” that tastes like ginger.

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2. Dominican Republic and their Christmas Food

Traditional Christmas food grace every Dominican table in the country.  Dishes include Puerco asado (roasted pork), Pollo asado o al horno (roasted chicken or oven-baked chicken), Pasteles en Hojas (root vegetables cooked in banana or plantain leaves), and huge plates ofdulce or sweets like caramels, jellies and marshmallows.  The jengibre is a special holiday drink and it does have an edge over the common ginger tea; this warm drink infuses ginger roots with jagu, a sweet fruit about the size of an orange and a taste similar to ginger.

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December 7 is Day of the Candles in Colombia in celebration of the Virgin Mary

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3. Colombia and their Day of the Candles

Important dates in Colombian Christmas are December 7 which is the Day of the Candles, a Catholic tradition which is an attributed to the Virgin Mary.  People go out on the streets and light candles in celebration.  Nine days before Christmas marks the Las Novenas; these days leading to the 24th of December are celebrated with gatherings and feasts as people prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ.

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Christmas food in Denmark is complemented with their traditional dink, glogg.

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4. Denmark and their Christmas Drinks

In Denmark, their traditional Christmas food is complemented with the Danish spiced wine called the Gløgg with almonds, raisins, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and bitter orange; the gløgg is usually paired with ginger snaps or a handful of blanched almonds.  Another popular drink is, of course, Danish beer.    Children get extra treats as they are served with kid-friendly hot chocolate and æbleskive, a Danish doughnut with icing sugar or jam.

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During Christmas, Norwegians display Christmas figures known as “nisse”

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5. Norway and their creepy Nisse

Norwegians have their unique Christmas figure called the nisse which is similar to elves or gnomes, and they guard animals.  It is believed that the nisser already existed even before Jesus Christ was born.  Because the nisser are ancient figures and are guardians, there are actually different types of these mythical creatures.

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The “yule log” or “buche de noel” was not originally a cake. During the Christmas season, French people light a real wooden yule log and kept it burning throughout the 12 days of Christmas.

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6. France and their iconic Yule Log

Interestingly, the Christmas tree was never popular in France.  The French instead light a yule log and let it burn until the New Year’s.  Although in the past years the yule log has been losing its appeal, it is now represented by a cake log or a Christmas log called the Buche de Noel.

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The U.S.A. is a melting pot country, and their culture has been influenced by migrants from other countries that brought with them Christmas traditions that are still in practice now.

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7. U.S.A. and their hanging of Christmas stockings

The U.S.A. is a melting pot country, and our Christmas tradition varies from region to region and greatly influenced by our ancestry. The English and German did not only bring food traditions with them, they have also imparted some important traditions, like the Christmas tree, joyous carols, and even traditions such as leaving their socks by the fireplace, where Santa can put his Christmas gifts for the children.

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Germany has their own version of fruitcake, which they call “stollen.” It only differs with the usual fruitcake because of its marzipan outer layer

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8. Germany and their “Stollen”

The German fruitcake called the stollen is a holiday favorite; however, there are different kinds of stollen, and two are particularly present on Christmas season.  The Christollen is basically the German Christmas fruitcake, a loaf-shaped cake stuffed with nuts, dried fruit and spices.  The Dresdner stollen, on one hand, is simply a fruitcake made from Dresden, but what makes this one different is it is noted to be more moist and heavier.  Some versions have marzipan in it.  There is also the “official” Dresdner stollen as a form of distinction, usually with a seal that bears the King Augustus II the Strong seal, and is made by 150 bakers.

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Christmas in the Philippines is marked by the irresistible aroma of Bibingka being cooked at virtually every corner of the country.

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9. The Philippines and their yummy “Bibingka”

In the Philippines, the “bibingka” is a rice cake steamed over coals. Usually, this rice cake has slices of salted egg , a bit of cheese. This delicious dish is served warm in banana leaves with a pat of margarine, grated coconut and sugar.

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It’s a tradition in Japan to celebrate their Christmas eve with a Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) dinner. They have to book months in advance to make sure they have a bucket of chicken to bring home.

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10. Japan and their traditional KFC Christmas dinner

Since the 1970s, many Japanese have made a tradition of having Kentucky Fried Chicken around Christmas. The tradition has become so widespread that KFC stores take fried chicken orders months in advance.

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Chef Ken

A chef by profession, a foodie at heart. He's been passionate about food and cooking since he was young. He is the online Community Manager of FriendsEAT.
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