Christmas Traditions around the World

Christmas can be traced back to Pagan times when this part of winter formed a number of ancient Pagan celebrations. In more recent times the Christian Church absorbed these festivals and over time they became Christmas as we know it, a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Over the centuries the holiday has come to be celebrated by the majority of Christians as well as culturally by many non-Christians. have put together some of our favourite Christmas traditions from around the world.


Hanging a stocking for Santa Claus to fill with gifts has become a staple of Western culture, but did you know that in Germany children leave a shoe outside the house on December 5th. This shoe is then filled overnight with sweets for those children that have been good. For those that have been misbehaving, they will find a tree branch instead of sweets.


In Austria children who have misbehaved are visited by Krampus, who is a horned “half-goat, half-demon” figure, who punishes these children for their bad behaviour. In contrast, children who have behaved are visited by Saint Nicholas who rewards them with gifts. The Krampus tradition is symbolised in many parades and events such as Krampuslauf (Krampus run).


In Canada, the postal service has a tradition that when they receive a letter addressed to Santa Claus, North Pole, Canada. The Postal Service will then open and reply to any of these letters received. Santa and his elves in the Canadian Postal service replied to over 1.6 million letters last year. This has become a magical tradition for many Canadian Children each year.


The people of Greece have a unique tradition of the Kallikantzaroi. The Kallikantzaroi are mischievous Greek elves, goblins or gnomes. They appear during the twelve days of Christmas, also known as the winter solstice until the 6th of January. Tradition states during the twelve days of Christmas when the sun will not move again until the 6th of January, they appear from the earth and cause mischief wherever they go. To stop them causing trouble, the Greeks burn a large log for 12 days. Greek priests then banish the Kallikantzaroi for another year by blessing the houses with holy water and a bunch of fresh basil.


Spain has an unusual and unofficial start to Christmas on the 22nd of December. Children from across the country can be heard calling out the numbers and prizes for the Lotería de Navidad. This is when Christmas truly arrives in Spain. After the celebration of good fortune, “Nochebuena” is Christmas eve on the 24th of December. Families gather for an evening meal that continues late into the night. Papá Noel then brings gifts for children to open on Christmas Eve.

Christmas has many unique and wonderful traditions around the world. Let us know your favourite traditions by tweeting @venuesworld

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