The celebration of Christmas traditions around the world

Christmas, is the magical season. A time for families to come together and reminisce about the years gone by and the years to come. Despite the different religions and cultures, Christmas has become a cultural event associated with giving gifts and a delicious meal with friends and family. However, the tradition itself is still celebrated in each country’s own unique way.


Swedes, like many of us, gather friends and family to celebrate Christmas. On December 13th they celebrate their own day called "Lucia". This is one of Sweden's oldest Christmas traditions in which a girl wears a white dress and robe and has candles in her hair. For safety reasons, today's Saint Lucia celebrations do not use real candles in their headdresses, but instead, use battery-powered lights that flicker like real candles. The celebration of St. Lucia is a Catholic tradition based on the story of St. Lucia of Italy. Lucia was convicted of witchcraft at a young age (hence the fire in her hair).

Another unique tradition that began in Sweden in 1966 is a 13-meter-tall Christmas goat made of highly combustible wood and straw, placed in Gävle Castle Square during Advent, and then burned down. The goat has been successfully burnt down 29 times, and despite being banned, people still try to burn it every year. 


Although it is not a national holiday in Japan, as only 1% of the total population of Japan is Christian, it is still felt across the country. You'll still feel the Christmas spirit throughout December with markets and Christmas lights being decorated in towns and cities.

Christmas Eve is considered the most romantic time of the year for Japan and equates to Valentine's Day for us in the Western world. Another interesting Christmas tradition that started in the early 1970s is that Japanese families eat KFC, and it is one of the most sacred traditions that really embodies the spirit of Japanese Christmas. The demand is so high that people start ordering for the special Christmas menu six weeks in advance!

South Africa

Christmas in Summer, sounds strange right? Well, this is normal since South Africa is in the Southern Hemisphere, so Christmas falls in Summer. You’ll still get all the Christmas markets, decorations, food, Christmas trees and caroller’s that you’re used to – but you get it with gorgeous weather too. You’ll also see plenty of other Christmas decorations like extravagant fairy light displays, glittering baubles, tinsel, and fake snow.

That's why South African’s like to have a barbecue called a "braai" at Christmas. Many families gather for a traditional meal of roast turkey, duck or beef, or suckling pig with yellow rice, raisins, and vegetables.  

You'll find everything from cold cuts to salads, plus there's also delicious desserts like the classic Christmas pudding, mince pies, or a traditional dish called Malva Pudding (or Lekker Pudding). There’s always plenty of food to go around at a typical South African Christmas celebration and unexpected guests are always warmly welcomed.


In Mexico, people celebrate Christmas from December 12th to January 6th, with an additional holiday on February 2nd. With candle-lit processions, elaborate nativity scenes and dances, Mexico's Christmas traditions are deeply rooted in the country's Spanish history. Some Mexican families still decorate a tree for Christmas, but during the festive season, a beautifully decorated nativity scene is a more common Christmas tradition.  

From December 16th to December 24th, children are found in Las Posadas, Mexico, walking home with candles and singing for protection. Posada means inn or lodging, so this tradition represents Mary and Joseph seeking refuge in the biblical Christmas story. Every night in the posada different families party with traditional food, drink, music, piñatas and fireworks.



Most of Ethiopia's population is Christian, so Christmas is often accompanied by large gatherings and celebrations. Ethiopia recognizes the Gregorian calendar, but officially follows the Ethiopian calendar. This means that Christmas is not celebrated at the same time as most countries in the world. Ganna, the Ethiopian Christmas holiday, occurs on January 7th in the Gregorian calendar. When the Ethiopians begin the Prophet's Fast on November 25th, preparations for Gannah begin, and they stick to a strict vegan diet of just one meal a day.

For Gannas, people wear white garments called 'Netera', which are similar to shawls. On the night before Gannas, they attend prayers from 6:00 pm to around 3:00 am.   Twelve days after Ganna begins a three-day festival called 'Timkat' starts on January the 19th and celebrations include church services, street processions, and music. Holidays are not commoditised, and no gifts are given as the holiday focuses more on community, family, and religion.
These are just a few of the Christmas traditions around the world, but each country has its own way of celebrating Christmas that makes Christmas even more special and beautiful. We wish you a very Merry Christmas. Don't forget to tag your decorated Dandara homes with us @dandarahomes.