Christmas Traditions Around the World

There are many holiday celebrations and traditions that take place around the world to usher in the holiday season. Let’s take a look at the Christmas traditions of China, Brazil, and Mexico.


With only about one percent of the Chinese population being Christian, not everyone knows the traditions involved. As a result, you’ll often see Christmas being celebrated in only the bigger cities. Santa Claus is referred to as Shen Dan Lao Ren (which means Old Christmas man) and will set up shop in stores just like in the States, although not as all-encompassing. Sometimes, postal workers dress up as Santa, too. You’ll also see Christmas trees, lights and decorations on streets, stores and in homes.

In Chinese, they say Happy/Merry Christmas with “Sheng Dan Kuai Le.” An increasingly popular tradition is the practice of giving apples on Christmas Eve because they signify peaceful and quiet evenings. Jingle Bells is a popular Christmas song in China as it is in America. Christians often go to Midnight Mass in China as well.


Brazilian Christmas traditions originate from Portugal, with nativity scenes popular in particular. You’ll see them in churches and homes throughout December. Christmas plays called ‘Os Pastores’ (The Shepherds) are also popular.
Catholics go to Midnight Mass or Missa do Galo (Mass of the Roster). Afterwards, there are often colorful fireworks displays and Christmas tree-shaped electric light displays. Santa Claus is referred to as Papai Noel and Bom Velhinho (Good Old Man). Because it’s hot in Brazil at Christmas time, many people hit the beach around the holiday.

Children like to leave socks near their window in the hopes that Papai Noel will exchange them for presents. Secret Santa parties are popular here like in the States but they are called ‘amigo secreto’ (secret friend) parties.
The most popular Christmas song here is ‘Noite Feliz,’ also known as Silent Night. Favorite Christmas foods include turkey, pork, ham, salad, rice with raisins, and fresh and dried fruits.


During the Christmas season, children often perform the ‘Posada’ processions, of which there are nine. (Posada is Spanish for inn or lodging.) Posadas celebrate the story of Joseph and Mary trying to find somewhere to stay. Houses are decorated with evergreens, moss and paper lanterns during this time. Every night, a different house holds a Posada party. Piñatas are popular party games. Christmas trees are becoming increasingly popular. Mexicans call Christmas Eve “Noche Buena” and enjoy a big meal in the evening. Families then head to Midnight Mass, called the ‘Misa de Gallo.’ On Christmas Day, celebrations often include fireworks. You’ll also see lots of poinsettias around, another popular decoration. Nativity scenes are big here, known an ‘nacimiento,’ often portrayed with life-size figures.

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