Christmas Traditions Around The World

December 18, 2013

Christmas is one of the most important celebrations of joy and happiness around the world. I personally enjoy Christmas with immense fervor and enthusiasm.

In Argentina, we officially start getting ready for Christmas on December 8th. That is the day when the whole family, especially the kids, enjoy the ritual of decking their homes with green, gold, red and white lights and flowers, hanging garlands in red and green colors at the doors and especially, decorating their Christmas trees with colored lights, laces, balls, Santa Clause figures, candles and all kinds of ornaments. Some people even hang all of the holiday cards received right on the tree as well, and of course, for Christians, the Nativity scene or pesebre is one of the main adornments that make the beautiful Christmas scenario complete since what we celebrate is the birth of Jesus Christ or El Niño Dios. On that special day, the children also write their letters to Papá Noel telling him all the presents they want to receive on Christmas Eve and hang their letters on the tree for him to take and read them any night before Christmas while they are sleeping.

Christmas-Around-The-WorldOn December 24th, after all the food, drink and gift plans have been made and everything is ready for the much expected evening, the well dressed members of the families and invited friends gather by the attractively prepared Christmas table and have the traditional Argentine Christmas dinner. The delicacies may include roasted pork, stuffed tomatoes, salads and mince pies. Even though the hot summer is not a very good friend of dried fruits like almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts and pistachios, they are always present in every Christmas table after dinner together with the Christmas's breads, puddings and turrones to accompany the special toast for the occasion at 12am when everybody says Feliz Navidad to each other. It is right after the toast when everybody runs to open the Christmas presents that Papá Noel left for them next to the Christmas tree ;)

On December 25th, the families and friends meet again to have a special Christmas lunch, which generally consist of stuffed chicken, sandwiches or fresh pies as well as fruit salad and ice-cream for dessert, and spend a nice afternoon in the swimming pools and seeing the kids play with their new toys from Santa.

I guess depending on the country you live in, your culture, your traditions and religions and the time of the year it is for you, the Christmas celebration might be different than many other peoples' around the globe, for example…

- The USA is so multi-cultural that I'm sure there must be many different ways of celebrating Christmas. Maybe those with Eastern European origin will favor turkey with trimmings while those with Italian origin will prefer lasagna. As for kids, on Christmas Eve, they hang highly stylized stockings on the mantle of the fireplace, and then go to bed early so that they will find presents in the morning. They are told that at midnight Santa will come, bringing a huge bag of toys. He will come down through the chimney, leave candy in the stockings and presents under the Christmas tree. Kids traditionally leave cookies for him; something we don't generally do in Argentina.

Christmas-tree- Australians also decorate their houses with bunches of 'Christmas Bush', a native Australian tree with small green leaves and cream colored flowers.

- In France, Father Christmas / Santa Claus / St. Nicholas is called Père Noël (Father Christmas). In eastern France he is accompanied by Le Pere Fouettard, a man dressed in black.

- Germany is well known for its Christmas Markets where all sorts of Christmas foods and decorations are sold. Perhaps the most famous German decorations are glass ornaments.

- In Mexico, Christmas is celebrated from the December 12th to January 6th. From December 16th to Christmas Eve, children often perform the Posada processions or Posadas. Posada is Spanish for Inn or Lodging. There are nine Posadas. These celebrate the part of the Christmas story where Joseph and Mary looked for a room in an Inn. For the Posadas, the outside of houses are decorated with evergreens, moss and paper lanterns. Each night a different house holds the Posada party. At the final Posada on Christmas Eve, a manger and figures of shepherds are put on to the board. When the Posada house has been found, a baby Jesus is put into the manger and then families go to a midnight Church service. After the Church service there are more fireworks to celebrate the start of Christmas.

Now I'd love to hear what Christmas means to you and how you celebrate it in your country… Merry Christmas to all!

To learn more about Christmas traditions, see: Christmas Around the World.

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Culture Curation
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Culture, Traditions, Translation Blog

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Daniela has over 16 years' experience in the translation, localization and language instruction professions. She holds a degree in Sworn, Literary, Technical, and Scientific Translation from the Instituto Nacional de Enseñanza Superior Olga Cossettini in Rosario, Argentina. Starting her career as a translator for English-Spanish/Spanish-English in 1990 over the years she has worked for several Localization Agencies as a translator, assistant project manager and senior project manager. She has completed a wide range of professional certifications in document and website localization with emphasis on translation, budgeting, quality control and project management including The Localization Institute’s Triple Certification in Localization Project Management (Localization Institute Chico, CA, USA). She has managed a wide variety of document, website, software and audio-video localization projects utilizing different Translation Management Systems (TMS), Translation Memory (TM) and I18n and L10n tool suites.