It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
Christmas in the United States is classic – decorate your Christmas tree with ornaments, fill the kitchen with the comforting scent of gingerbread cookies, binge Christmas movies, and feel the excitement of unwrapping Christmas gifts on the morning of the holiday.
But have you ever thought about how other cultures celebrate Christmas? If you’re interested in knowing, keep reading!
Christmas markets are one of the most popular German holiday traditions. With Christmas markets in almost every town in the country, there’s no shortage of a Christmas atmosphere and beautiful decor everywhere.
In the Christmas markets, there are usually traditional finger foods and drinks like Glühwein (mulled wine), Feuerzangenbowle (fire punch), Lebkuchen (gingerbread), Maronen (chestnuts), and, of course, Wursts (sausages) to keep you company throughout the chilly evening.
No one takes Christmas as seriously as in the Philippines. In extreme cases, Christmas-themed decorations can even begin as early as September. But guess what? There’s a Christmas capital in the Philippines that takes decorations to a whole new level.
Every year, the city of San Fernando in the central province of Pampanga ushers in their favorite festival by decking out in thousands of colorful, glistening lights illuminating the night sky.
From the Giant Lantern Festival and musical performances to special appearances of Disney cosplay characters and snowy bubbles, it’s no wonder that the city has earned itself the reputation of being the Christmas capital.
In Austria, instead of Santa, legend says there’s a half-goat, half-demon creature called the Krampus. On top of that, the devilish mythical creature is supposedly Santa’s evil twin.
While good, well-behaved children are rewarded with presents and treats, the naughty children wait in anxiety about what the Krampus might unleash upon them.
The folklore is so terrifying to children that adults have even adopted a Krampusnacht, or "Krampus night" where they dress up as Krampus to scare their kids.
There’s a lovely yet solemn Christmas tradition in Polish families, which is sharing a thin, unleavened, tasteless wafer called oplatek (pronounced o-pwa-tek). The wafer is also known as "the bread of love."
On Christmas Eve, the family will gather around to break a piece of the wafer while sending good wishes, hugs, and kisses to everyone present.
All wrongdoings among family members and loved ones are supposed to be forgiven during this momentous gathering, – which is why it often stirs up emotions among feuding relatives but also eventually dissolves any bitter feelings.
Although Christians constitute fewer than 1% of the population in Japan, Christmas remains a major holiday for the Japanese. Instead of a turkey dinner, Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) is the place to go. It’s extremely difficult to get a hold of a bucket of fried chicken on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day unless you’ve booked well in advance.
They also treat Christmas Eve as the most romantic day of the year. Yes—even more so than Valentine’s Day. That said, many streets in big cities will be illuminated throughout December.
Christmas celebrations in Japan are all about pigging out on fried chicken with your significant other.
How do you celebrate Christmas?
We hope you enjoyed learning about how Christmas is celebrated differently around the world. Are there any interesting traditions that you might adopt for your celebration?