For the last three years, my family and I have ventured into the downtown area of Chicago to experience the wonder of Christmas in the Windy City. This year, we visited such Chicago holiday favorites as the Christkindlmarket, the window displays at Macy’s on State, and the Christmas trees at the Museum of Science and Industry. Seeing the trees – and their country-specific decorations – always makes me wonder about the many Christamas traditions that are celebrated around the world. My family, like many Christian families in the US, celebrates Christmas by going to a religious service, sharing a meal with family and friends, and exchanging gifts. But those outside of the US take a slightly different approach to Christmas traditions.
Japan: Unlike kids in the US, children in Japan receive their presents on their pillow during the night, while Christmas dinner is often fried chicken.
Wales: Although many Americans can be found singing carols during church services on Christmas Eve and Day, this is most often done during the “waking” hours. But the Welsh have a different approach. In the wee hours of Christmas morning, Welsh men gather in rural churches to sing carols in 3 and 4-part harmony without musical instruments.
Ukraine: The Christmas tree is covered in spider web-shaped decorations to represent a widow – who could not afford presents for her children – who awoke on Christmas to find gold and silver webs on her tree.
Ireland: A lighted candle is placed in the window on Christmas Eve to welcome Mary and Joseph as they look for shelter.
Holland: On Dec. 6, children await the arrival of the Sinterklaas, who rides a white horse and brings gifts. Familes also share a “letter cake”, which is shaped in the letter of the family’s last name.
Learn more about these and other Christmas traditions from Around the World.
Ciao and Merry Christmas to all!