How Christmas is celebrated around the world | Sunday Observer

How Christmas is celebrated around the world

21 November, 2021

Christmas is an annual festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, celebrated on December 25 as a religious and cultural celebration by billions of people around the world. Christmas celebrations around the world can vary greatly from country to country. Popular customs include exchanging gifts, decorating Christmas trees, attending church, sharing meals with family and friends and, of course, waiting for Santa Claus to arrive.


Australians hang wreaths on their front doors and sometimes go Christmas carol singing on Christmas Eve. People also decorate their houses and gardens with  Many Australians frequently celebrate Christmas with a lunchtime barbecue on the beach.


People in Canada send Christmas cards to their friends and family. Many Canadians open their gifts on Christmas Eve. The main Christmas meal is often roast turkey with vegetables and ‘all the trimmings’ like mashed potatoes and vegetables. Traditional favourite Christmas desserts include Christmas/plum puddings and mincemeat tarts. Christmas crackers are popular with many people in Canada.

A rich fruit Christmas cake is also normally eaten around Christmas time.The Santa Claus Parade in Toronto is one of the oldest and largest Santa parades in the world! It started in 1913 when Santa was pulled through the streets of Toronto. Children along the route followed Santa and marched along with him.

United States of America

The United States of America has many different traditions and ways in which people celebrate Christmas, because of its multi-cultural nature. The traditional meal for Western European families is turkey or ham with cranberry sauce. Families with Eastern European origins have turkey with trimmings, keilbasi (a Polish sausage), cabbage dishes, and soups; and some Italian families prefer lasagna.

Some Americans use pop-corn threaded on string to help decorate their Christmas tree. Making gingerbread houses is also popular at Christmas! Eggnog is a ‘traditional’ Christmas drink in the USA. Christians will go to Church to celebrate the birth of Jesus at Christmas. Many churches have special Christmas Carol services and events where the story of Christmas is told.Americans also send out Christmas Cards, sing carols s  and there’s the unusual custom of the Christmas Pickle.

This is a lesser known custom among Americans. A Christmas Pickle is hung among the decorations on the Christmas tree. The finder of it will be rewarded or will have good fortune in the coming year.People in America like to decorate the outside of their houses with lights and sometimes even statues of Santa Claus, Snowmen and Reindeer. Some cookies and a glass of milk are often left out as a snack for Santa on Christmas Eve!.


On Christmas morning, Finish families traditionally eat a porridge made of rice and milk topped with cinnamon, milk, or butter.

Whoever finds the almond placed inside one of the puddings “wins”—but some families cheat and hide a few almonds so the k children don’t don’t get upset.

On this date, the eldest girl in each family sometimes dons a white robe and a crown of candles before serving her family buns, cookies, coffee, or mulled wine. On Christmas Eve, many Finnish families visit the sauna to relax or go to cemeteries to remember loved ones who have died before attending midnight mass. 


For many Polish communities worldwide, Christmas Eve dinner or Wigilia begins with sharing the Oplatek. The paper-thin square wafer made of flour and water has an image of the Nativity on it.Dinner may not begin until the first star appears in the night sky and, traditionally, an extra setting is left at the table should someone come uninvited. Christmas in Poland is celebrated with gift giving, church services, and fasting on Christmas Eve before a 12-dish feast, which usually features carp for good luck. 


The main Christmas meal is eaten on Christmas Eve and popular food include a Christmas ham and scalloped potatoes it.

Dessert is often a walnut cake and Christmas cookies. Swiss families make their own advent calendars for the holiday season.

These calendars are either given to children as a surprise or made together as a fun activity. Each day’s bag reveals a new surprise or treat, with the biggest gift on Christmas Eve.


Most families have a Christmas Tree (or maybe even two) in their house for Christmas. The decorating of the tree is usually a family occasion, with everyone helping. Like in many countries Nativity Plays and Carol Services are also very popular at Christmas time in the UK. The main Christmas meal is usually eaten at lunchtime or early afternoon on Christmas Day.

It’s normally roast turkey, roast vegetables and ‘all the trimmings’ which means vegetables like carrots and peas, stuffing and sometimes bacon and sausages. It’s often served with cranberry sauce and bread sauce.

The UK is also famous for Christmas cake. Children believe that Father Christmas or Santa Claus leaves presents in stockings or pillow-cases. These are normally hung by the fire or by the children’s beds on Christmas Eve. On Christmas Day, families break open crackers filled with small toys, jokes, and paper crowns — which are traditionally worn throughout the midday Christmas meal.  Queen Elizabeth !! also gives an annual Christmas message broadcasted on Christmas Day, during which she discusses what the holiday means to her. 

Boxing Day is a very old custom that started in the UK and is now taken as a holiday in many countries around the world.


The Yule Goat has been a Swedish Christmas symbol dating back to ancient pagan festivals. However, in 1966, the tradition got a whole new life after someone came up with the idea to make a giant straw goat, now referred to as the Gävle Goat.


One of the most important ways of celebrating Christmas in Italy is the Nativity crib scene. One old Italian custom is that children go out carol singing and playing songs on shepherds pipes, wearing shepherd’s sandals and hats.

On Christmas Eve, it’s common that no meat (and also sometimes no dairy products ) are eaten. Often a light seafood meal is eaten and then people go to the Midnight Mass.

For many Italian-American families a big Christmas Eve meal of different fish dishes is now a very popular tradition! It’s known as “The Feast of the Seven Fishes”.

When people return from Mass, if it’s cold, they might have a slice of Italian Christmas cake called Panettone which is like a dry fruity sponge cake and a cup of hot chocolate. Ialian children believe that a magical present-bearer comes down the chimney at night to deliver gifts to good children and coal to naughty ones—but it’s not Santa and it’s not o at Christmas. Instead, children hold their breath for January 6, the day of the Epiphany, when they’re visited by La Befana, the beloved Christmas witch.


Filipinos take the Christmas season seriously, with big Nochebuena parties on Christmas Eve.

Many will attend a Mass, called Misa de Riso in the evening, and then feast and dance into the wee hours. Decorations often go big too, with the parol, a lighted star lantern, featuring prominently.

Portugal and Brazil

Brazilian and Portuguese families come together on Christmas Eve to eat dinner as late as 10 p.m.

Then, at exactly midnight, they exchanges gifts, toasts, and wish each other a Merry Christmas.

Midnight mass, Missa Do Galo (Rooster Mass), is a chance to meet with neighbours and extended family to wish them well for the holiday season. The service is often followed by fireworks in the town square

By Buvindu Manamperi
Grade 8
Lyceum International School Nugegoda