A journey to Christmas celebrations around the world

Christmas is one of the best times of the year. it is celebrated around the world by billions of people in countless ways. Trees are decorated, gifts are exchanged, carols are sung and special meals are prepared to honour the birth of Jesus. Christmas figures, known as Santa Claus, Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas and more are associated with gift-giving and anticipated by overly excited kids on New Year's Eve.
So let us take a trip around the world and have a closer look to some of those traditions.

Twenty great Christmas swims in Ireland

Whether you’re a year-round aquatic fanatic or someone who just likes dipping a toe in the water at Christmas, you’re in the right country to make a festive splash.

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For some people it’s a daily rite. More moderate followers might go once a week, others again only on special occasions – perhaps on Christmas Day, after being forced by a more militant family member, or on Christmas Eve, to get it out of the way. No, I’m not talking about Mass. I’m talking about the Christmas swim.

The benefits are many. For starters, the sea is a source of healing. Swimmers – and some medics – claim that the sea relieves aches and ills of all kinds, from hangovers to sciatica, diabetes to depression.

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On what can be a stressful day, with family at such close quarters, it can be a relief to get out of the house and rub shoulders with strangers in the fresh air and purifying waters. If you’re feeling sluggish after a big breakfast it revitalises the body, preparing you for the turkey dinner. The cold dip is also a good excuse for an early tipple – just to bring the body back to a sensible temperature. (Some people light bonfires on the beach to warm themselves and their fellow swimmers after the icy plunge.) And on a day that tends to focus on the material, a bracing swim might be the perfect antidote.
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Most swims begin at noon; others begin at 11am, to follow morning Mass, and others again take tide into account. At most meetings there are more onlookers than swimmers, but if you think your heart can take it, then dive in. So, in no particular order . . .

by Mary.K

Christmas in Spain

  • Most people in Spain go to Midnight Mass or 'La Misa Del Gallo' (The Mass of the Rooster). It is called this because a rooster is supposed to have crowed the night that Jesus was born.Most families eat their main Christmas meal on Christmas Eve before the service. The traditional Spanish Christmas dinner is 'Pavo Trufado de Navidad' which is Turkey stuffed with truffles (the mushrooms, not the chocolate ones!) In Galicia (a region in north-west Spain, surrounded by water) the most popular meal for Christmas Eve and for Christmas Day is seafood. This can be all kinds of different seafood, from shellfish and mollusks, to lobster and small edible crabs.After the midnight service, people walk through the streets carrying torches, playing guitars and beating on tambourines and drums. One Spanish saying is 'Esta noche es Noche-Buena, Y no Es noche de dormir' which means 'Tonight is the good night and it is not meant for sleeping!'
  • A few different languages are spoken in different regions in Spain. In Spanish Happy/Merry Christmas is 'Feliz Navidad'; in Catalan it's 'Bon Nadal'; in Galician 'Bo Nadal'; and in Basque (or Euskara in basque) 'Eguberri on'.
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By Traianos P. C'3

France's Xmas

Christmas in France

Christmas is one of the most celebrated holidays around the world. No matter your region or religion, there is always a celebration. In France, it is celebrated with all the grace and gusto befitting the French. No other country in Europe celebrates Christmas in such a fashion. Even the American holiday is overshadowed by the festivities the French culture imbues into its celebrations.

French Christmas Traditions

There are several French Christmas traditions sprinkled throughout this hub, but I wanted to note these in particular as they are so wonderful and thus deserve their own area!

  • If there is a Christmas tree it is decorated with candies, nuts, and small toys by Père Noel (Santa Claus) when he visits on Christmas Eve. French children will leave their shoes by the fireplace or by the door for Père Noel to fill with gifts.
  • In southern France, families burn a log from Christmas Eve until New Year's Day. Traditionally, a part of the burnt log was used the next year as a wedge for the family's plow to bring good luck.
  • By Despoina K. C'2


Italian traditions in Italy are based heavily on the religion of
Christianity. Christmas starts eight days before Christmas and laststill after the Feast of Epiphany. Musical salutes are made at the shrineof the Virgin Mary and songs are played at the homes of carpenters inhonor of St. Joseph. Eight days before Christmas, a special Novena ofprayers and church services begin. It all ends on Christmas Day.
OnDecember 23rd, sometimes earlier, children are dressed as shepherds withsandals, leggings tied with crossing thongs, and wearing shepherds’hats, go from house to house playing songs on shepherds’ pipes andgiving recitations. They receive money to buy Christmas treats. Incities like Rome real shepherds sometimes carry out the performance.
A strict fast is observed 24 hours before Christmas after which a mealwith many dishes (but no meat) is served. The traditional Christmasdinner, Cenone, is made up of spaghetti and anchovies, anassortment of fish, fresh broccoli, tossed salad, fruits, and sweets.
No meat is eaten for twenty-four hours before Christmas Eve, butthere follows a meal as big as the family can afford. A special NewYear Banquet is eaten on the last day of the year, with raisin bread,turkey, chicken, rabbit, and spaghetti. Champagne is the drink of theevening.
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Christmas traditions in the United Kingdom

In the UK (or Great Britain), families often celebrate Christmas together, so they can watch each other open their presents!

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. Christmas Trees were first popularised the UK by Prince Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria. Prince Albert was German, and thought that it would be good to use one of his ways of celebrating Christmas in to England.

Holly, Ivy and Mistletoe are also sometimes used to decorate homes or other buildings.

Most villages, towns and cities are decorated with Christmas lights over Christmas. Often a famous person switches them on. The most famous Christmas lights in the UK are in Oxford Street in London. Every year they get bigger and better. Thousands of people go to watch the big 'switch on' around the beginning of November.

Like a lot of countries, Nativity Plays and Carol Services are also very popular at Christmas time. The Church that I go to always has a Carols by Candlelight Service where the church is only lit up by candles. It is a very special service and always makes me feel very Christmassy! Lots of other British churches also have Carols by Candlelight and Christingle services.

Children believe that Father Christmas or Santa Claus leaves presents in stockings or pillow-cases. These are normally hung up by the fire or by the children's beds on Christmas Eve. Children sometimes leave out mince pies and brandy for Father Christmas to eat and drink when he visits them. Now, some people say that a non-alcoholic drink should be left for Santa as he has to drive!

Children write letters to Father Christmas/Santa listing their requests, but sometimes instead of putting them in the post, the letters are tossed into the fireplace. The draught carries the letters up the chimney and Father Christmas/Santa reads the smoke.

There are some customs that only take place, or were started, in the UK. Wassailing is an old anglo-saxon custom that doesn't take place much today. 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.

Ioanna P.C'3

Christmas Traditions and The New Year's Eve in Georgia

General Information

In the Republic of Georgia, Christmas celebrations contain plenty of familiar elements, as well as a number of traditions that are uniquely Georgian. The vast majority of the population there is Orthodox Christian. As such, Christmas is one of the most important holidays of the year. However, in Georgia, Christmas is celebrated on the 7th January, because the Georgian Orthodox Church uses the old 'Julian' calendar for its festivals.

Christmas Day

On Christmas Day, many people will go on a 'Alilo', a parade in the streets. They are dressed in special cloths and costumes to celebrate Christmas and Georgian flags are carried by many. Children like taking part in the Alilo as they're often given sweets! Furthermore, that day Carols are sung and they vary across the country. Many of the songs and carols sung during the Alilo include the phrase “on 25th December Christ was born in Bethlehem”.

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Christmas Tree

The traditional Georgian Christmas Tree is called a 'Chichilaki'. It's made of dried wood, such as hazelnut or walnut branches, which are shaved into long curly strips to form a small tree. Some people say they look like the long white curly beard of St Basil the Great! They are decorated with small fruits and sweets. They are traditionally burnt on the day before the Georgian Orthodox Epiphany (19th January). This is meant to mark the end of the year's troubles. However, 'Western' Christmas Trees are also popular.

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Presents and "Tovlis Papa"

Georgians get their presents on New Year's Eve. Presents are traditionally brought to children by "Tovlis Papa", which means “Grandfather snow”. He normally wears all white clothing including a hat and a cape/cloak called “nabadi”. The cloak is heavy and very warm as it's made of white sheep's wool.

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New Year's Eve and Fireworks

The New Year's table in Georgia includes satsivi, juicy pork, spicy marinades, khachapuri, several kinds of homemade cheese and sweet churchhella.The main on the table is of course a wonderful wine. In general, the more sweets on New Year's table - the sweeter will be the year. And of course, what a meal without songs and dances! Georgian multi-voice is the culmination of the holiday. Right at midnight in the sky are flashing multicolored fireworks. It is believed that every shot hits the evil spirit, and in the New Year good will conquer evil.

Christmas Traditions in the USA

Christmas, celebrated by most Christians on December 25, commemorates the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. Americans, like many of the world’s peoples, have developed their own Christmas traditions and observances, and these have changed greatly over time.

In the days or even weeks before Christmas Day, many people decorate their homes and gardens with lights, Christmas trees, and sometimes even statues of Santa Claus, Snowmen and Reindeer. Some Americans use pop-corn threaded on string to help decorate their Christmas Tree! Some cookies and glass of milk are often left out as a snack for Santa on Christmas Eve! It is common to organize a special meal, often consisting of turkey and a lot of other festive foods, for family or friends and exchange gifts with them. Children, in particular, often receive a lot of gifts from their parents and other relatives. Americans also send out Christmas Cards, like Carol singing and there's the unusual custom of the Christmas Pickle.
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Towns and cities often decorate the streets with lights to celebrate Christmas. Perhaps the most famous Christmas street lights in the USA are at the Rockerfeller Center in New York where there is a huge Christmas Tree with a public ice skating rink in front of it over Christmas and the New Year.
As for seasonal entertainment, there are countless productions of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker ballet, school holiday pageants, and carolers everywhere. On television, adults watch old favorites like A Miracle on 34th Street (1945) and It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), while children (and nostalgic parents) enjoy classic animated programs such as A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965). Many radio stations adjust their formats to feature Christmas music. The holiday movie season is often called the “Oscar season” because so many hopeful contenders for the Academy Awards (or “Oscars”) are released in December.

Still, the holiday’s original religious meaning remains for many its most important element. For many Americans, it is a period of general goodwill and an occasion for charitable and volunteer work. Congregations create manger scenes — dioramas of the stable where Jesus is believed to have been born, with figurines representing the infant Jesus and those present at his birth. Many churches hold Christmas Eve candlelight or midnight services. Some include a Mass of the Nativity or a dramatization of the birth of Jesus. A lot of plays and songs have a aspect of Christmas as a theme. Some groups arrange meals, shelter or charitable projects for people without a home or with very little money.
Eleni M. C'3

Christmas Traditions in Venezuela

In Venezuela, Christmas is celebrated with a number of religious and traditional customs. As a predominantly Catholic country, Christmas festivities celebrate the birth of the child Jesus. The religious celebrations begin on the 16th of December until December 24th.

In Caracas, the capital of Venezuela, there's a tradition of people rollerskating to the early morning church services from 16th to 24th December. The roads are often closed to traffic by 8.00am to make it safe for people to skate!

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Many homes put up a Christmas tree but the most authentic Venezuelan custom is to display a nacimiento (Nativity scene). A more sophisticated nacimiento is the pesebre. This represents an entire region with mountains, hills, plains and valleys. The central point is a replica of the manger at Bethlehem. The structure is a framework covered with canvas and painted accordingly. Often, the pesebre becomes a real work of art!

  • Most people in Spain go to Midnight Mass or 'La Misa Del Gallo' (The Mass of the Rooster). It is called this because a rooster is supposed to have crowed the night that Jesus was born.Most families eat their main Christmas meal on Christmas Eve before the service. The traditional Spanish Christmas dinner is 'Pavo Trufado de Navidad' which is Turkey stuffed with truffles (the mushrooms, not the chocolate ones!) In Galicia (a region in north-west Spain, surrounded by water) the most popular meal for Christmas Eve and for Christmas Day is seafood. This can be all kinds of different seafood, from shellfish and mollusks, to lobster and small edible crabs.After the midnight service, people walk through the streets carrying torches, playing guitars and beating on tambourines and drums. One Spanish saying is 'Esta noche es Noche-Buena, Y no Es noche de dormir' which means 'Tonight is the good night and it is not meant for sleeping!'
  • A few different languages are spoken in different regions in Spain. In Spanish Happy/Merry Christmas is 'Feliz Navidad'; in Catalan it's 'Bon Nadal'; in Galician 'Bo Nadal'; and in Basque (or Euskara in basque) 'Eguberri on'.
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On December 25 children awake to find their gifts around the Nacimiento or the Christmas tree. Tradition has it that it is the 'San Nicolás' (St. Nicholas) or the 'Niño Jesús' (Baby Jesus) who brings gifts to the Venezuelan children instead of Santa Claus.

It was also a tradition for people to paint their houses two to four weeks before Christmas, so it was all nice and ready to be decorated for Christmas. Many people have new clothes for Christmas and New Year's Eve. What is more, it is believed that if you wear yellow on New Year's Eve you will have good luck next year!

Last but not least…

Traditional Venezuelan Christmas foods include 'Hallacas' - a mixture of beef, pork, chicken, capers, raisins, and olives that is wrapped in maize and plantain leaves and tied up with string into a parcel and then boiled or steamed afterwards; the Pan de Jamón - a type of bread that's made with puff pastry, filled up with ham, raisins, olives and bacon and shaped like a 'swiss roll'!

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Philip P. C'3

Christmas in Canada

Canada is a very large country and people of many different cultural backgrounds live there. Because of this, there are lots of different Christmas traditions in Canada. Many of the traditions and celebrations come from French, English, Irish, Scottish, German and native/first nation influences.

The Eastern Canadian province of Nova Scotia is known all over the world for its fir and pine Christmas Trees, so most families in Canada have a fir or pine Christmas Tree. One Canadian tradition is to send the biggest, best fir tree (grown in Nova Scotia) to Boston, USA because of the assistance given during the disaster, known worldwide, as the Halifax Explosion. This tradition has carried on for many years. Bostonians always love and appreciate the Nova Scotian Christmas tree. They place this tree in the city and then light it during a ceremony to begin the Christmas season.

Mummering is a tradition which mainly takes place in the province of Newfoundland, more commonly in small towns and villages rather than large towns and cities. It's also sometimes called 'Jannying'. People dress up in costumes and knock on someone's door and say in a disguised voice, "Are there any Mummers in the night?" or "Any mummers 'loud in?'", meaning 'are mummers allowed in the house?' Then they sing and dance and have Christmas cake and a cup of something nice before moving on to the next house. In some places, if the host does not guess who the Mummers are, the host must join the Mummers in their merry-making. Going Mummering is a fun Christmas season activity for adults. Mummers usually come out between December 26th and January 6th (The 12 Days of Christmas). However, some come out only before Christmas Day. In some places Mummering is now banned because people used it as an excuse for begging.

On the south shore of Nova Scotia, over Christmas, there's the tradition of Belsnickeling where people dress up in funny Santa costumes and go from house to house until the home owners guess who you were. It was especially popular in West & East Green Harbour. The Belsnicklers often brought musical instruments and sang. They were served Christmas cake or cookies. This tradition was brought to Nova Scotia by the 1751 Germans immigrants who settled Lunenburg and South shore.

People in Canada send Christmas Cards to their friends and family.

In northern Canada, some people plan a Taffy Pull. This is held in honour of Saint Catherine, the patron saint of single women. This party provides an opportunity for single women to meet eligible single men!

Many Canadians open their gifts on Christmas Eve. Some only open their stocking on Christmas Eve. Others choose one gift to open, then save the rest until Christmas Day.

Canadian children also believe in Santa Claus. Canadians are especially proud to say that their country is the home of Santa Claus.

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. It's been taking place for over 100 years and now is a huge event with over 25 animated floats and 2000 people taking part! It's broadcast on TV around the world.

"Sinck Tuck" is a festival started by the Inuit that is celebrated in some provinces of Canada. This celebration consists of dancing and gift exchanging.

Labrador City in Newfoundland holds a Christmas Light-up Contest each year. People dress the outside of their houses up with lights and often have big ice sculptures in their front gardens! They have no trouble finding enough snow or ice, because Labrador City has about 12-14 Feet of snow every year!

Many Canadian families have cookie-baking parties. They bring a recipe for Christmas cookies, bake them and then exchange them with the members of their family. At the end of the party, each family goes home with a variety of different cookies to enjoy over the Christmas season.

Many families of French descent have a huge feast/party on Christmas Eve called a 'Réveillon' that lasts well into the early hours of Christmas morning after taking part in Christmas Eve Mass. When people are at Midnight Mass, they hope that 'Père Noel' (Santa) will visit their house and leave gifts for children under the tree. The traditional Christmas meal for people in Quebec, is a stew called 'ragoût aux pattes de cochons' which is made from pigs feet! However, many people now have a 'Tortière', a meat pie made from venison (or pork or beef).

At the end of the Christmas season, January 6th, people in the province of Quebec have a celebration called "La Fete du Roi" They bake a cake and place a bean in the middle. Whoever is the lucky discoverer of the bean, gets to be the king or queen, according to tradition. This is similar to a tradition in Spain.

In Southwestern Nova Scotia, many families eat lobster, a shellfish caught off the shores of Nova Scotia in the North Atlantic Ocean, on Christmas Eve.

At Christmas Canadians eat sweets called Barley Candy and Chicken Bones! They are really sweets made by local candy companies. Barley Candy is usually on a stick and is shaped like Santa, reindeer, snowmen, a tree and other symbols of Christmas. Chicken Bones are pink candy that tastes like cinnamon. You melt them in your mouth and once melted, they reveal a creamy milk chocolate center.

Dionisis B'2 C'2

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Christmas Eve is the time when presents are exchanged. The gifts are sometimes brought by Santa Claus (called 'Julenissen' in Norway). Presents are also brought by the small gnomes called 'Nisse'. There are also hobgoblins (Nisse) decorations. Children pick up the presents from under the Christmas Tree and cards are read on the presents out loud.
In some parts of Norway, children like to go carol singing. Often children will dress up as characters from the Christmas Story, such as the Shepherds and Wise Men, and go singing from house to house in their local neighborhood. Sometimes they carry with paper stars on them.
Another tradition in parts of Norway is that families light a candle every night from Christmas Eve to New Year's Day.
A very popular song at Christmas time in Norway is the Musevisa (The Mouse Song). The words were written in 1946 by Alf Prøysen. The tune is a traditional Norwegian folk tune. It tells the story of some mice getting ready for Christmas and the Mother and Father mice warning their children to stay away from mouse traps! It became popular very quickly and is now as popular as ever in Norway.
Many different types of cakes and biscuits are eaten over the Christmas period in Norway. One of the most popular is a special bread called 'Julekake' that has raisins, candied peel and cardamom in it.


Christmas in Italy is celebrated in many ways. It is a holiday called “Natale” and it is a time to stay a home and eat with loved ones. Customs vary city to city.


December 8 is when decorations go up and when some Christmas markets start. Decorations and huge Christmas trees can be found in main piazzas, like the are in front of the Colosseum and piazza Duomo in Milan.


The eight days before Christmas are known as “Novena” and are filled with people singing carolers around the neighborhoods. If you are in Rome or in Sicily, watch out for “zampognari” who are bagpipe players.


In order to prepare and purify their bodies for Christmas Day, Italians avoid eating meat on Christmas Eve.

Katerina Malesagou C3

A traditional Christmas in Holland


Santa is not a prominent figure in the traditional Holland Christmas celebration.Instead,childrens look forward to the arrival of St.Nicholas in November .St Nicholas wears red bishops robes and in accompanied by a helper who is know as Zwarte Piet or Black Peter .Unlike Santa Claus ,St Nicholas is a tall slim man.According to tradition ,St Nicholas and Black Peter live in Madrid .They are said to choose a different harbour in Holland for each years arrival in order to give as many childrens as possible a change to meet them .Children are told that St Nicholas and Black Peter spend the year writing down good and bad behaviors in a large book and preparing a list of presents that they will give the Dutch children who have been well behaved .If children have been bad however ,they are told that Black peter will chase them with a stick !!
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Christmas Eve and Christmas Day

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are times of worship for Dutch families ,since the children have already received their presents .It is customary to attend church services on both Christmas Eve and Christmas morning .After the Christmas morning service families return home to sing carols and tell stories around the Christmas tree.Then,in the evening they enjoy a large Christmas dinner.
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Traditional Christmas Food

Since presents are not exchanged on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day , enjoying lavish meals is an important part of the festivities for a traditional Christmas in Holland.If you are interested in incorporating Dutch Christmas traditions into your own celebration ,consider making one of the following recipes

!KERSTKRANS,a Dutch Christmas ring ,is a cake that is placed at the center of the table with a candle and some sprigs of holly .

!PEPERNOOT ,also known as Christmas tree cookies are coated with colored sugar ,crystals or decorated with silver balls and sugar strands .

!KERSTOL ,a Christmas bread ,is often served for breakfast on Christmas morning .


Raphaela Mauroudi !!!!!!C3