Around the world, people celebrate Christmas with all kinds of traditions – here’s a snapshot of Christmas celebrations and customs around the world.
In Los Cabos, Mexico, Christmas is usually celebrated from 12 December – 6 January! The biggest event on the calendar is Christmas Eve, Noche Buena or ‘Good Night’ which is spent with family.
Food: Like in America, turkey is a common inclusion at family feasts in Los Cabos, Mexico. Some not so familiar inclusions are ‘Romeritos’ a typical Mexican dish with dried shrimp and potatoes in a ‘mole’ (Chocolate and chilli) sauce, accompanied with a very sweet Mexican alcoholic drink known as ‘Rompope’.
Traditions: Children usually write a letter to Yisus “al nino Jesus” asking for gifts – which they then receive in the morning of the 25th , from Jesus and Santa Claus, or on January 6, from the Three Wise Men – or if they’re lucky, both!
Fun Fact: Many Mexicans also celebrate Candeleria, marking the end of the Mexican Christmas celebrations on 2 February!
In Peru, rather than national traditions, each region has their own customs and traditions – and different food and drink to go alongside it.
Food: In Lima, it is traditional to eat turkey, pork, panettone (sweet bread), and even drink hot chocolate – despite the fact that it is Summer in December. People celebrate on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day – the most important celebration for Peruvians is the night before at midnight on the 24th – known as Noche Buena or ‘Good Night’ with their family.
Traditions: It’s not just New Year’s Eve that is celebrated with fireworks but also Christmas. Children will stay up to midnight to see the fireworks and open presents with their families. In the Andean regions of Peru, families exchange gifts on January 6th after celebrating the arrival of the Three Wise Men for the Epiphany.
Fun Fact: While Christmas trees are popular, it is the ‘Nacimientos’ (Nativity Scenes) that are most popular in Peruvian homes. They may be constructed from wood, pottery or stone and appear to be a typical nativity scene, though if you look carefully you will see that the animals are actually llamas and alpacas.
Christmas in Germany is the storybook experience many of us dream of – mulled wine, snow lined streets and endless amounts of hand crafted decorations.
Food: Goose is the traditional dish on Christmas Day, as well as rabbit or a roast, accompanied by traditional German sides such as apple and sausage stuffing, red cabbage, potato dumplings and stollen – a popular fruit bread.
Traditions: Throughout Germany, Christmas markets celebrate seasonal customs and traditions in historical settings – and there’s over 150 to choose from! Beautifully decorated stalls offer handicrafts and gifts, festive baked treats, gluhwein (mulled wine) and delicious regional specialities. All the while, choirs and brass-bands provide festive musical accompaniment. Particularly popular with visitors are Nuremberg’s Christkindlesmarkt and the Striezelmarkt in Dresden.
Fun Fact: The Christmas tree was invented in Germany AND Germany is home to the world biggest Christmas tree! According to legend, the Christmas tree had its genesis in Freiberg in 1419 when bakers hung sweets and baked treats from the branches of a tree, and the children of the city were invited to ransack the tree on New Year’s Day. The world’s biggest Christmas tree – 45 metres tall! – towers over Dortmund’s Christmas market every year.
Christmas is one of the major holidays in the USA, celebrated in a myriad of ways reflecting the diverse and multi-cultural make up of the nation. Aside from the collective traditions of the Christmas Tree, Santa Claus and mistletoe, different regions have their own traditions.
Food: At typical Christmas lunch / dinner includes roast ham or turkey, cranberry sauce, with an abundance of side dishes, followed by a dessert of pumpkin pie and fruit cake with brandy sauce.
Traditions: Christmas decorations, in particular Christmas lights are hugely popular around the USA. The Grove in LA is home to a 100-foot Christmas tree, which hosts an annual event to celebrate the lighting of the tree with big name pop stars performing in the past including Robin Thicke, Backstreet Boys and Far East Movement.
Fun fact: Ways to celebrate Christmas in the US are as diverse as the number of States. Some quirky festive events include:
Catch Santa in his board shorts and favourite Hawaiian shirt for the 10th Annual Surfin Santa in San Diego. Visitors can even pose for photos with Santa on his giant surfboard.
One of the largest parades on the California Coast, the San Luis Obispo Downtown Association’s 40th Annual Holiday Parade. The event features nearly 100 types of floats, vehicles, marching bands, dancers, and more.
Macy’s 26th Annual Great Tree Lighting in Union Square Park, San Francisco, showcases more than 33,000 energy-efficient LED lights accompanied by 1,100 shining ornaments. Hot tip for visitors, aim to get there early and reserve a spot at the Cheesecake Factory – positioned at the top of Macy’s providing a birdseye view of Union Square!