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  • Writer's pictureJan Bishop

Christmas Traditions Around The World


Christmas Traditions around the world
Christmas Traditions around the world

Christmas is rich with family and friends, festivities and fun, celebration and traditions. For people all over the world Christmas is filled with traditions. One of my favorite traditions is opening Christmas Pajamas on Christmas Eve. My parents started this tradition with my siblings and I as far back as I can remember. My husband and I continued it with our children and now we have another generation (our grandchildren) who participate in this fun tradition with us. Last year we didn't follow tradition, none of our kids were going to be with us, I really missed it. This year we started it back up, and although we won't be together, we will all be sporting our matching pajamas on Christmas Eve! And remembering each other at this wonderful time of the year.



Another tradition is reading the story of the birth of Christ. With little kids it fun to act it out to help keep their attention. This is a fun and meaningful way to put the focus back on Jesus. We have had some great costuming moments! 😊



I have a tradition I started for myself. Every year I collect a new Nativity Scene. I have a fun collection from many places, different styles, and sizes. This is another tradition that helps me to keep my focus on Christ.

Hand stitched Nativity
Hand stitched Nativity from my daughter Chelsey, for my birthday. (2023)

Nativity lap quilt.
Nativity Lap Quilt made by my sister Dawn. (Christmas 2020)

Other traditions are leaving cookies for Santa. Watching Christmas movies all month long. Secret Santa, Christmas parties, making Christmas candies and cookies to share with friends and neighbors. Traditions are repeated actions that reinforce values.


Traditions are often passed down from generation to generation, sometimes the tradition is adapted or discarded altogether. I thought it would be fun to find some traditions from the places my ancestors migrated from.


I have a great great grandmother who was from Norway. In Norway-long before Christmas Trees were adopted as a tradition, they used evergreen boughs, mistletoe and holly to decorate. Now the Christmas tree is the center of the celebration but it is not lit until Christmas Eve. It is decorated with handmade ornaments and purchased ones alike.


On Christmas Eve the churches ring in Christmas, after church the family sits down to a Christmas meal and children wait for Julenissen (Norway's Santa Claus). He knocks on the door and asks "are any good children here?" He opens his sack and gives his gifts. After gifts dessert and coffee is enjoyed together as a family.


I have another great great great grandmother who was from France. Christmas traditions in France-they also decorated a fir tree. They decorate a few days before Christmas, with candles, lights and stars. The children receive gifts which are placed on the branches of the tree. Santa Claus leaves gifts in their shoes.


Families placed a manger in a prominent place in the house. Children bring rocks, moss and branches to create the manger scene. The Holy Family is represented by small terracotta figures called "santons." Everyone attends Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. After Mass is a big family dinner. The menu varies by region.


Nativity Scene
Nativity Scene

French Christmas Markets have been around since the 1500's. Check here for the top five Christmas Markets in France. These markets are a huge hit now with gifts ranging from gingerbread to unique cloth made specifically for the end of the year celebrations.



Traditional Christmas Tree
Traditional Christmas Tree


I also have several ancestors from England. Many of the traditions in the United States were adopted from England. One such tradition is Christmas Cards. Many Christmas Cards are sold to aid charities. Kissing under the mistletoe dates back to the dark ages, and was considered a pagan tradition. Carols are sung by groups of people to their neighbors. Children hang stockings by the fire place or at the foot of their beds, waiting for "Father Christmas" to fill them.


Christmas Crackers are brightly wrapped colored tube tied at both ends. It contains-party hats, trinkets and toys. It is usually "cracked" at the Christmas meal. Traditional Christmas meal was turkey, chickenor duck stuffed and potatoes. After gifts a special Christmas pudding is served with coins in it for the children. The pudding is made days before, with each member of the family stirring the pudding and making a wish.Later on Christmas the English would tune in to hear a Christmas message from the Queen.


Christmas Market
Christmas Market

Several years ago my husband and I lived on island (Tinian). There were a handful of Phillipinos wanted to start decorating and listening to Christmas music in September. They told my husband they started celebrating in the "ber months" meaning-September, October, November and December! And it is true-In the Philippines they start celebrating in September and continue until the 1st Sunday in January (which is the feast of the Epiphany or three kings.)

The Philippines is around 90% Christian, 80% of the Christians being Catholic. Many of the Western Traditions are found in the Philippines, Santa Claus, Christmas Trees, Christmas decorations and so forth. But the most important traditions is the "parol" this is a lantern made of bamboo with a pole and a star shape at the top, it is then decorated. This lantern represents the star of Bethlehem which guides the magi to the Christ Child.


Star of Bethlehem
Star of Bethlehem

Are you familiar with the customs and traditions of the countries of your ancestors? Do you know their origins and meanings?


Cultural and Family traditions are strongly linked to our beliefs and values. Learning and understanding the traditions of your family (ancestors) can help you understand and appreciate your family heritage in a deeper more meaningful way. It is also a way you can introduce your children and grandchildren to their ancestors, and reinforce values.

Christmas Dinner with family
Christmas Dinner with family

Traditions help tie us to our family and culture. Traditions create lasting memories and strong relationships. Sharing traditions with others can be fun but sometimes challenging.

Each time a couple marries, two sets of traditions are mingled together. The couple must compromise on how their family will incorporate the traditions into their new family. Some traditions may stick around and others may not. And traditions can change through the years as children grow older and start their families. Traditions are important. One tradition that we have from my husbands, mothers side of the family is handmade stockings.


Christmas Stockings


Are there traditions you celebrated as a child you no longer celebrate? Did a new one take it's place? What traditions of your spouses family have you adopted? Are there traditions you have seen you would like to start? Traditions can strenthen family bonds and build lasting memories. Your children and grandchildren will look forward to the traditions you engage in.


Disclaimer: This post and this website contain affiliate links, I may receive a small commission if you purchase through the link.

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18 Comments

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Guest
Jan 01
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

😀

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Guest
Dec 19, 2023

I love learning about different traditions. Thank you for joining Tell It To Me Tuesday, I hope to see you again this week.

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Jan Bishop
Jan Bishop
Dec 21, 2023
Replying to

I love learning about the different traditions too. And it is interesting to see where our traditions originate. Thanks for stoppping by. Merry Christmas!

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Guest
Dec 14, 2023

I love all the handmade gifts!

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Jan Bishop
Jan Bishop
Dec 21, 2023
Replying to

Handmade gifts make it so special. Thanks for stopping by. Merry Christmas!

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Guest
Dec 14, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Don't forget Little Christmas celebrated in Ireland. Most of my relatives are Irish (I'm Australian) so it was my cousins and Aunt that told me about Little Christmas which I had never heard of before. On this day (January 6th) women get to rest with no household work. This is the day they usually take down the Christmas tree and decorations.

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Jan Bishop
Jan Bishop
Dec 21, 2023
Replying to

Oh I love that! I think we should add the no work for women to the calender! Thanks for sharing and for stopping by. Merry Christmas!

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Guest
Dec 13, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Loved this! All the fun photos and traditions!

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Jan Bishop
Jan Bishop
Dec 21, 2023
Replying to

Thanks so much fo stopping by. Merry Christmas!

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