Holiday Fun Facts: Christmas Around the World

With only a few days in between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, it’s usually over a weeklong holiday celebration for a lot of people. Although I tend to celebrate the New Year’s more than Christmas, I do enjoy Christmas music, Christmas parties, Christmas programs/musicals and the overall feeling of joy and celebration. And the best thing is, people are the kindest during these holidays! There are some things I do not like so much about it but I won’t say it as to not spoil the purpose of this post. 😉  How people celebrate the year-end holidays around the world got me curious and that’s why I did a little ‘world exploration’ in the internet looking for fun facts. I thought I’d share this list to bring a smile to your face.

First off, let me tell you something quite bizarre and cool at the same time. I was born and raised in the Philippines, a country where the holiday celebrations (Christmas and New Year) are super long. Being born in a beautiful tropical country is not unusual, it is the cool part (even when it’s warm there all year long). What’s unusual are the Christmas songs that start playing in malls and restaurants in September and decorations that adorn business establishments soon after. Crazy, right? But not for the millions of Filipinos who love celebrations, like fiestas. Although the main celebrations do not start until December, still the holiday preparations start pretty early. It’s celebrated with special food on the table, fun games, well-rehearsed programs, exchange of gifts and often with the lighting of firecrackers. The towns and villages go all out with their decors. Carolers, especially children, go around neighborhoods singing carols in exchange for a few coins. I think this activity is my favorite one. My parents had a container full of coins and we often wait by the window waiting for the carolers to come by. In my childhood home, Christmas was all about family time —no Santa, no elaborate gifts, no Christmas trees…and no snow. I only remember two hard-working parents trying to put a smile on their excited children’s faces with special food on the table, some toy trumpets, some firecrackers, and a midnight prayer. There were a few times in the past years when I ‘celebrated’ the holidays overseas or in a plane off to somewhere but the quietness around me just made me long for my folks’ home.

Filipino Kids Carolling via Google

So yeah, Christmas for me is all about family. It’s all about love. It’s all about joy…and some noise. Because Jesus came to this world as a blessing to all of us, I am glad we get to celebrate that, too. I’m ok with one day but how cool it would be to feel love, peace, joy and hope every day because of Jesus. Just so you know, if you celebrate Christmas Day just reading this post while you’re snuggled in bed, I’m ok with that, too. 😉

You’re not alone because many people will have their own way of celebrating it. In…

  • Russia – Christmas is normally celebrated on January 7th. The date is different because the Russian Orthodox church uses the old ‘Julian’ calendar for religious celebration days.
  • Denmark – There’s an old, traditional custom to give treats to animals on Christmas Eve. Some people go for a walk in the park or woods and they might take some food to give the animals and birds.
  • Argentina – On Christmas Eve, paper lanterns called ‘globos’ float into the night sky.
  • Brazil – In the country’s tropical climate, children believe Papai Noel enters through the front door and travels in a helicopter.
  • Bolivia – Misa del Gallo (“Mass of the Rooster”) is celebrated on Christmas Eve. People bring roosters to the midnight mass to symbolize the belief that a rooster was the first animal to announce the birth of Jesus Christ.
  • Poland – Spider webs are a usual Christmas tree decoration because, according to a legend, a spider wove a blanket for Baby Jesus. Spiders are considered to be symbols of goodness and prosperity.
  • Ethiopia – Christmas is not an important holiday there. The holiday is called Ganna or Genna after a hockey-like ball game played once a year, in the afternoon of December 25th.
  • Ghana – A lot of people observe a traditional folk libation ritual at Christmastime. In it, people drink from a cup and then pour some of its contents on the ground as a symbolic offering to their ancestors.
  • Greece – kissing under the mistletoe was considered an unspoken promise to marry your mate.
  • Austria – farmers traditionally chalk the initials of the Three Wise Men on the archway above stable doors.
  • Lebanon – On Christmas Day, children to go up to any adult and say, “Editi ‘aleik!” (“You have a gift for me!”). If the adult has a present to spare, the kids add this to their Christmas morning haul.
  • Ukraine – The Christmas Eve supper has 12 courses, each of them dedicated to one of Christ’s apostles.
  • Croatia – There’s an old tradition that young men gave their girlfriends a decorated apple at Christmas.
  • Japan – Christmas is a time to spread happiness rather than a religious celebration. Fried chicken is often eaten on Christmas day due to a successful advertising campaign by KFC in the 1974 called ‘Kentucky for Christmas!’
  • India – Instead of traditional Christmas trees, a banana or mango tree is decorated.

Source: Why Christmas

When it comes to Christmas traditions and practices, I find that although it can be a cultural thing to some, quite often it is a personal thing. Some people do not celebrate these holidays, they either catch up on chores or some much-needed sleep. While for some others, it is the perfect time for hosting parties and party-hopping. I love how families create their own family Christmas traditions, like the White Envelope storyWhether you celebrate the holidays with people you love or on your own, keep it safe! Much love to you all.

Merry Christmas,



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