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Christmas Around the World

Christmas Around the World: How Children Typically Celebrate in These Seven Countries 

Nobody loves the festive season more than children! As adults, many of us can look back on our childhoods with such sweet, fond memories of Christmas Day and the build-up to it. Presents, time off from school, Santa Claus, a packed travel bag to visit and spend time with family, decorations, reindeer, and delicious food. Oh, and did we mention presents?

Even when the bubble bursts and we suddenly become too ‘mature’ to believe that Santa is real, Christmas remains a magical time that nothing else quite compares to. But how do children in other countries perceive Christmas and the surrounding celebrations? Let’s explore here with some Christmas cheer!

Argentina 

Very early in December (or, in some cases, even November), people in Argentina kick off their Christmas celebrations and begin decorating their homes – like here in the UK. Children will help their families to decorate the tree, which can sometimes be white or blue, as well as green, and arrange the pesebre (Nativity Scene) somewhere near the tree.

In Argentina, more focus and emphasis are put on Christmas Eve rather than Christmas Day. For children expecting presents from Papa Noel (Father Christmas) or El Nino Dios (The Baby Jesus), these will likely be delivered on the 24th.

Germany

For many kids in Germany, letters are written to the ‘das Christkind/Christkindl’ (the traditional Christmas-gift bringer), asking for gifts. Sugar is typically glued to the envelope, making the letter sparkle and, therefore, more pleasant to look at. On December 24, the angel-like creature then delivers the presents. While Germany is seeing more people slowly lean towards Weihnactsmann (Santa Claus) as the gift-bringer, like we promote here in the UK, many will choose to stick to tradition.

When dinner rolls around, and it’s finally time to indulge in that delicious Christmas meal we’ve been dreaming about all year, no one will be tucking into a roast turkey. Instead, families in Germany share a roast goose or wild boar with delicious red cabbage. Yummy!

Latvia

If we explore Christmas traditions in Latvia, we’ll find that presents are opened the night before the 25th or on the morning of. Sometimes, in order to receive the present, children and adults are expected to stand next to the tree and recite a short poem. Alternatively, singing, dancing, or playing a musical instrument should work.

Presents are delivered by ‘Ziemassvetku vecitis’, which directly translates to Christmas Old Man. Tell it like it is, we suppose! The country of Latvia also has the first documented use of a decorative tree at Christmas time, which is a fantastic claim to Christmas fame. 

Jamaica

Spending Christmas Day somewhere hot is a blissful dream for many Brits, but it’s a reality for Jamaicans! Children can look forward to the ‘Grand Market’, a mix between a festival and a market that takes place on Christmas Eve – when it can be around 28 degrees! During the day, attendees can enjoy the buildup to the big day by shopping for food, clothes, sweets, and toys.

When the evening arrives, at around 18:00, a party takes place that lasts all night and gives everybody the opportunity to dress up in their best clothes, have fun, and celebrate the festivities. Then, on the big day, children will enjoy a homecooked meal of ackee and saltfish, breadfruit, and fried plantains. 

Greece

Christmas in Greece is a remarkable occasion for everyone who celebrates. While some families decorate Christmas trees, just like here in the UK, traditions also see kids and their parents decorate boats! The Karavaki represents the idea of sailing to a new life after the birth of Jesus Christ, and is also a nod to the Greek marines and sailors who devoted their lives to the sea.

Many children elsewhere across the world will only have to wait until December 24 or 25 to open their highly anticipated gifts, but kids in Greece must sometimes wait until January 1 (St Basil Day). While it is becoming increasingly more common for families to exchange gifts on Christmas Day, tradition triumphs for many.

Japan

Because there aren’t many Christians in Japan, it’s only in recent decades that Christmas has been celebrated closer to the extent that other countries celebrate. Still, most businesses treat Christmas Day like a ‘normal’ day, and locals tend only to engage in the Christmas cards/presents tradition that made its way to Japan from the USA.

You’ll likely see Japanese people celebrate the 24th (Christmas Eve) more than the 25th. While kids still feel the festive cheer, it’s couples that use this as an opportunity to exercise their romantic qualities by exchanging gifts, going for walks to admire the lights and decorations, and enjoying a lovey-dovey meal. Interestingly, KFC is one of the most popular Christmas meal traditions in Japan

Croatia

On November 25, on St Catherine’s Day, preparations for Christmas begin in Croatia, and celebrations don’t stop until January 6, on Epiphany; this means even more time to enjoy the festivities! St Nicholas’s Day falls on December 6, and the night before, children will clean their shoes and leave them in the window. This is in the hope that St Nicholas will leave them small gifts, sweets, and treats inside.

Children will typically celebrate Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with their immediate family only, before invites are extended to friends and other family members on Boxing Day. For their special meal, they’ll likely tuck into turkey, goose, or duck, alongside a popular side dish of cabbage rolls filled with minced pork meat (sarma).

Not long left to go now!

Christmas 2022 is right around the corner, meaning millions of kids across the world are waking up for school, and their other responsibilities, with a huge smile on their face and a spring in their step. Christmas is a time to have fun, spend time with loved ones, and be grateful for all that we have in our lives. If we tick these three boxes and encourage our children to remember what really matters during this time of year, we should see successes across the globe! Merry Christmas to you all.