Christmas traditions around the world can be nearly
identical to the way you celebrate Christmas, somewhat the same, or they can be entirely
different. Do you know how Christmas is celebrated in Mexico? Germany? Test
your Christmas traditions trivia knowledge with the facts below.
There are many different ways Christmas is celebrated around the world.
How do Mexicans celebrate Christmas?
Mexicans celebrate the birth of Jesus with las Posadas, nine days of preparation during which the story of the Nativity is reenacted each day. These days lead up to Noche Buena (Holy Night) or Christmas Eve. Most families go to mass, then head home for dinner with family and friends. The highlight of the evening is placing Baby Jesus in the manger in the Nativity scene.
To prepare for the celebration, the house is decorated with pottery; bowls of fruit; brightly colored paper ornaments; colorful confetti; tinsel-trimmed maracas; star-shaped piñatas filled with oranges, tangerines, peanuts, and candy canes; red, green, and silver tablecloths; small lanterns and candles; and, of course, a Nativity scene.
The spread for Feliz Navidad includes:
- Roast turkey, ham, or suckling pig
- Biscayan cod
- Stuffed chili peppers
- Wild greens in mole sauce
- Atole (beverage made from corn)
- Chili con queso with chips
- Guacamole with flakes of red bell pepper "confetti"
- Ensalada de Navidad (Christmas fruit salad)
- Sidra (sparkling cider)
- Chocolate atole (cinnamon hot chocolate)
- Ponche con piquete (hot punch of fruits and cinnamon sticks)
- Bizcochos (holiday cookies)
- Sweet Christmas fritters
What are some of the Swedish Holiday Traditions?
On December 13, one of the darkest days of the year, St. Lucia Day, or the Festival of Lights, is celebrated throughout Sweden to symbolize the promise of the sun's return. In the past, a young girl would dress in a white gown with a red sash and a wreath of lit candles on her head. She would go from house to house offering baked goods.
Today, the tradition continues with the oldest girl in a family wearing the traditional dress with a wreath of (battery-powered) candles on her head, awakening everyone with a song and saffron buns and coffee.
According to legend, Lucia was a young girl that lived during the fourth century. She was blinded for her Christian beliefs. St. Lucia is the patron saint of the blind.
For a Swedish Christmas dinner, sit down to a table of:
- Lutefisk (fish soaked in lye)
- Boiled wheat (cuccidata)
- Cabbage pudding
- Baby potatoes
- Sweet carrots
- Medley of vegetables
- Deviled eggs
- Julglögg (a hot, mulled wine)
- Fruit salad
- Saffron buns with raisins
- Rice pudding
- Lingonberry pie
- Broomstick cookies (a lacy cookie with almonds and butter)
- Pepparkakor (sweet ginger)
What is Christmas like in Germany?
Celebrating the season is a month-long event in Germany, with festivities culminating on Christmas Eve, when the Christmas tree is unveiled. Children are not allowed to see the tree until a bell rings to signify that the Christ Child has been there.
Once the tree is revealed, fully decorated with tinsel, lights, and ornaments, families place presents underneath and sing Christmas carols. The night later gives way to a feast so lavish that the evening is often called dickbauch, or "fat stomach."
It is believed that those who do not eat well will be haunted by demons during the night. Nuts, fruits, marzipan, greenery, candles, and adorable carved, wooden figurines of angels, trees, and Santa are placed around the table.
In Germany, the typical Christmas feast
features roasted goose instead of turkey.
- Roasted goose
- Ham or suckling pig
- White sausage
- Sausage and cheese bread
- Roasted potatoes
- Green beans
- Macaroni salad
- Rice porridge
- Biscuits and marmalade
- Fruit salad
- Apple cider
- Christstollen (bread with nuts, raisins, and dried fruit)
- Lebkuchen (gingerbread)
What is Boxing Day in England?
Although the exact origin of Boxing Day is unknown, it is believed to date back to England during the Middle Ages. The most widely accepted theory is that even though servants were required to work on Christmas Day, they were given a reprieve the day after to visit family, with their employers sending them off with a box containing gifts and food, hence the term "Boxing Day."
Today, people continue to celebrate by taking the day off to visit family and friends and to give presents to those who have helped them throughout the year. Traditional Christmas festivities in England include tables laden with pine boughs, holly, mistletoe, juniper berries, cinnamon sticks, oranges with fragrant cloves, bowls of fruit, and tiny Christmas trees scattered throughout.
For the Christmas feast in England, turkey and stuffing are staples.
The typical English Christmas feast consists of:
- Pheasant or chicken
- Assorted sausages
- Roasted potatoes
- Filo crackers
- Mince pies
- Poached pears
- Scones and muffins with berry butter
- Christmas (plum) pudding
How do you say "Merry Christmas" around the World?
- Glædelig Jul -- Danish
- Kung His Hsin Nien bing Chu Shen Tan -- Chinese, Mandarin
- Joyeux Noel -- French
- Nadolig Llawen -- Welsh
- Mitho Makosi Kesikansi -- Cree
- Buon Natale -- Italian
- Kala Christouyenna! -- Greek
- Nollaig Shona Dhuit -- Gaelic (Irish)
- Shub Naya Baras -- Hindi
- God Jul -- Swedish
- Boldog Karacsonyt -- Hungarian
- Feliz Navidad -- Spanish
- Pozdrevlyayu s prazdnikom Rozhdestva i s Novim Godom -- Russian
- Sung Tan Chuk Ha -- Korean
- Frohliche Weihnachten -- German
- Gesëende Kersfees -- Afrikaans
- Hyvaa Joulua -- Finnish
- Kurisumasu omedeto -- Japanese
- Mele Kalikimaka -- Hawaiian
- Suksun Wan Christmas -- Thai
- Wesolych Swiat Bozego Narodzenia -- Polish
So, you've learned quite a bit about Christmas traditions around the world and how to say Merry Christmas in more than a dozen languages. Are you ready to test your Santa Claus knowledge? Continue to the next section to test your Santa trivia.