Christmas Celebrations and Traditions from Around the World

Americans aren’t the only ones who celebrate Christmas. Many other countries do too, but everyone celebrates it just a little bit differently. Let’s take a look at popular traditions and cultural events surrounding Christmas around the globe.


Norwegians say Merry Christmas as ‘Gledelig Jul!’ This is where the Yule log tradition was born, harking back to when the ancient Norse used this long oval-shaped log to celebrate the coming of the sun during winter solstice, says “Yule” comes from the word hweol, which translates to wheel. That’s because early Norwegians thought that the sun was a powerful wheel of fire in the sky hovering just over the Earth. That’s why today the fire-place is such a centerpiece of the family home at holiday time.


The popularity of decorating evergreen trees originated here, included in the winter solstice tradition. Germans first decorated trees back in the 17th century, after which the tradition began to spread throughout the rest of the country. In 1771, after the novelist Johann Wolfgang von Goethe included reference to a Christmas tree in his book, popularity surged even more. Trees were introduced to England when Prince Albert, hailing from Germany, married Queen Victoria. It wasn’t until nearly 1850 when a photo of a Christmas tree was shown in an American newspaper that it became popular here.


The English love to eat their plum pudding, a tradition that dates back to the Middle Ages. It’s comprised of flour, nuts, sugar, raisins, and a variety of spices, tied in cloth and boiled. You slice it and put a dollop of cream on top. Caroling is also quite popular here, a tradition that began when nomadic musicians would go from castle to castle in the towns they visited to sing for their supper. Just like in the United States, children hang stockings above the fireplace on Christmas Eve, or even on their bedposts, in the hopes that Saint Nicholas will leave some treats.


Christmas couldn’t be more different in Australia, where it falls in the middle of the summer. It can reach as hot as 100 degrees F! Instead of roasting chestnuts on an open fire, they celebrate by going to the beach and having barbecues with family and friends. They exchange gifts and enjoy a BBQ or a hot prepared meal featuring pork, ham or turkey.

When you learn a language through the innovative process of BRIC Language Learning, you too can learn all about the Christmas traditions from your chosen tongue. Read up on those traditions, especially when it comes to gift giving, before attending a holiday party in that foreign land.