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America

In America, Christmas is celebrated on 25th and predominantly follows Christian traditions and a celebration of the birth of Jesus. Christmas is a time for families to get together from around the country and celebrate. Here are just some of many Christmas traditions you can expect in America:

  • Decorating is a big part of Christmas celebrations in America. Houses are full of Christmas lights and decorations inside and out of homes. The streets are full of colourful lights for the month of December. Some houses even include a sign with a radio station that plays Christmas music in time with their Christmas light displays.
  • December 24th is when children are getting ready for a visit from Santa Claus. Santa can expect to find a glass of milk and a few cookies left for him when he visits an American house Christmas Eve.
  • A highlight of the day for many is the food! Christmas day means a Christmas dinner. In America, this is usually a roast dinner of ham or roast beef as turkey is generally reserved for Thanksgiving, celebrated a month before.
  • You can also expect to be offered a glass of egg nog (if you are of legal drinking age). This is a spiced egg-based drink mixed with a liquor of either bourbon, rum or brandy.

Netherlands

In the Netherlands, early Christmas traditions focus on children. Children’s behaviour throughout the year will be the decider on whether they will receive a present from Sinterklaas (the Dutch version of Santa Claus) or not. Here are some of their other top Christmas traditions:

  • Sinterklaas, comes every year on December 6th riding his white horse Amerigo bringing gifts to the well behaved children of the Netherlands.
  • Every December Dutch companies distribute kerstpakket (Christmas hampers) to staff as a thank you for all their work throughout the year. These hampers are on average €40, so a nice token of appreciation to receive!
  • Children leave their shoes by the fireplace filled with treats for Amerigo, usually carrots or hay. They hope that in exchange they’ll receive gifts from SinterKlaas.

Germany

Germany celebrate Christmas on the 24th December with the exchange gifts to one another. They then celebrate with all the family on the 25th and 26th of December, and attend mass at their local churches. Here are some of Germany’s top Christmas traditions:

  • Children use advent calendars to count the days down until Christmas. They open a door every day to reveal a festive picture, poem or sweet treat.
  • Bells ring after dark so the children can witness the amazing Christmas tree put in their family homes. Children see the tree in all its glory with lights making the tree look Christmassy and beautiful.
  • St Nicholas Day, celebrated on December 6th is a favourite holiday of many, especially children within Germany. The night before children will leave their clean boots outside their door in the hopes they’ll be filled with treats and gifts from St Nicholas by the time they wake up.

 

France

St Nicholas Day is also celebrated in France on December 6th. The celebration of Saint Nicholas stems from the story of three little children who were kidnapped by a butcher. They were saved by Saint Nicholas. This is also why he is known as a children’s saviour. Here are some of the top Christmas traditions in France:

  • Le Réveillon is celebrated in France at Christmas. It is a big Christmas traditional French feast of food eaten late at night following Christmas Eve mass. Christmas Eve loved ones and family members will gather to enjoy this special late night meal which is a symbolic awakening to the meaning of Christ’s birth.
  • in France Christmas is not over after the 25th of December, in fact it carries on into January. On January 6th a festival called “La fête des Rois” takes place. This is to celebrate the three kings in the story of Jesus’ birth. Some even perform in the streets for children to watch.

Spain

Christmas Eve is a special day in Spain. This is where the largest family meal of the year will occur to mark the celebrations. However the 6th January is the most important with the exchanging of gifts.  There are many other Christmas traditions in Spain, here are a few:

  • The Santa Claus race is on! Thousands of people across Spain dress as Santa Claus an annual 5km charity race held every year to raise money for a cancer-care charity.
  • Spanish people also celebrate the “Dia De Los Inocentes” (Holy Innocents’ Day). This Catholic holiday has been modernised overtime to become a day of pranks, a kind of April Fool’s Day.
  • “Roscón de Reyes” is celebrated around Christmas time in Spain. A cake is given to all guests, however you will need to be careful as one contains a figurine. If you win the figurine you will be crowned queen or king of the table!

We hope you have enjoyed this look into just some of the many Christmas traditions celebrated around the world. To find out more about moving countries please click here.

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