It’s Time!: Christmas Traditions Around the World

     Christmas, one of the biggest holidays around the world, is coming up! As Christmas becomes an international holiday over time, people from different countries have developed various traditions and desserts that they enjoy with their family.

     Let’s take a look at how different countries celebrate their unique Christmas season!

< Germany – Frohe Weihnachten! >

   According to their tradition, Saint Nicholas visits children’s houses on December 6th with his friends. If a child has behaved kindly and well over the course of the year, Saint Nicholas leaves a small present, like pieces of chocolate or candies, in front of the house. However, if a child has behaved poorly and naughtily, they will not receive any gifts. After decorating the Christmas trees on December 24th, families will celebrate theGerman traditional Christmas with cakes and desserts. 

   Germany’s special dessert: Stollen, an oval-shape dough that contains various ingredients like fruits and nuts. This is modeled after baby Jesus or his cradle stacked in a baby wrapper.

< American and England – Merry Christmas! >

   Christmas is celebrated everywhere in America and England. The celebratory spirit effuses everywhere as families decorate Christmas trees with thousands of colorful lights in department stores, streets, or even in front of the house. In these countries, Christmas carol, gift giving for children, and family dinner represent the Christmas traditions. Some families even play with firecrackers in the beginning of a family dinner to find some comical messages among those small pieces of paper and to share them with each other.

   England’s special desert: Mince Pie, a traditional dessert that is made up of raisins, pickled orange peel, spice, and some animal fats. They believe that they will have good luck in the new year when they eat Mince Pie every single day from Christmas day to January 6th. 

< France – Joyeux Noel! >

   The French Christmas is often celebrated with traditional and modern elements. Excursions made of woods usually have small pieces attached to them, each of which represents the birth of Jesus. They traditionally bake Christmas cakes between Christmas and New Year. On Christmas Eve, it is commonly believed that Santa Claus will bring gifts as they prepare for a magnificent dinner for the entire family. Some traditional dishes are foie gras, salmon meat, oyster for appetizer,  turkey with chestnut fruits for the main dish, andice cream for dessert. 

   France’s special dessert: Bush de Noel, a cake that looks like a French Bush woods due to a tradition that burns firewood for receiving good luck and getting rid of bad luck for the new year. 

< Spain – Feliz Navidad! >

   The Spanish famous ceremony called Misa de Gallo marks the beginning of the Christmas festival in all houses and streets. Family gathers around the table, shares Christmas glasses, and holds a party with festive songs that are performed with small instruments like drums. The most important thing to do on New Year’s day is to eat 12 grapes until midnight. In Spain, January 6th is important to the children, as they will receive presents from the three kings (Melchoir, Gaspar, and Baltazar).

   Spain’s special dessert: Polvorones (almond cookies) and B Turron, a nougat dessert that is made by hardening various nuts with honey. There are two theories about the origin of Turron. The first one is that it originated when Islam dominated Spain. The second claims that it was created by a Barcelonian Chef named Touro who made emergency food. 

< Finland – Hyvää Joulua! > 

   In Finland, the Finnish prepare Christmas from the beginning of December and have a special calendar to count days till Christmas. They usually celebrate Christmas from December 24th to 26th, and on Christmas Eve, they will have a grand family dinner that has traditional food like Joulukinkku (Christmas ham) and carrot or sweet potato Casserole. Since Finland is the only country that has the actual Santa Claus, their Santa tradition is also different. In other countries, Santa Claus is generally known for giving gifts to children on Christmas Eve by sneaking in the chimney. However, in Finland, they come directly through the front door to give presents. After the Finnish spend peaceful times on Christmas day, they host Boxing Day on December 26th, where they give small gifts to neighborhoods in gratitude. 

   Finland’s special dessert: Joulutorttu and Piparkakut(gingerbread). Joulutorttu is a pin-wheel shaped bread topped with plum jam. Also, they draw pretty pictures on the gingerbread and make it into various shapes. Interestingly in several colleges in Finland, they hold a competition to build a model house out of gingerbread. 

     Although different countries have various traditions and ways of celebrating Christmas, it is always a memorable time where people spend time with their family and provide beloved memories for children. Even if you cannot have dinner with your family this year due to the pandemic, l hope it will be a special Christmas for all of you to have family dinner remotely. Merry Christmas!