Christmas Traditions from Around the World
We’re looking forward to a warm and festive Christmas in Surrey this year – have you considered joining us?
We have a lot going on… In the meantime, read our latest blog to learn more about Christmas traditions from around the world.
The United Kingdom
Our Surrey hotel can be found in the United Kingdom – not at all far from London in fact. We know all about the traditions that happen in UK homes; you will find Holly, Ivy and Mistletoe as decoration during the festive months, not to mention a whole host of outdoor Christmas lights in cities and villages up and down the country that have a large switching on ceremony.
In the UK, Christmas Dinner is usually eaten at lunchtime or early afternoon on Christmas Day. Various meats can be served, but usually you will find roast turkey, vegetables, pigs in blankets (sausage wrapped in bacon) brussels sprouts, parsnips, cranberry sauce and bread sauce. A tradition for many families is the annual viewing of ‘The Snowman’ cartoon on television. An even more jovial tradition, is the constant conversation about whether or not it will be a white Christmas (it is usually a debate about if there are any signs of snow or not!)
Christmas occurs in the summer in South Africa, and carol singing is popular on Christmas Eve. Many people go to a Christmas morning Church Service, and homes are decorated with traditional ‘fir’ trees and stockings. The main Christmas Day meal is either a bird of turkey or duck, through roast beef, mince pies or suckling pig is also popular. Yellow rice with raisins and vegetables is a staple side dish and is usually followed by Traditional Christmas Pudding or a South African dessert – Malva Pudding. Due to the sunshine, outdoor barbecues or ‘braai’ are also held. To give a Christmas greeting in Afrikaans you would say ‘Geseënde Kersfees’.
The Giant Lantern Festival takes places each year on the Saturday before Christmas Eve. Only held in the city of San Fernando, the city is known as the Christmas Capital of the Philippines and for good reason! Eleven villages participate and in previous years the lanterns were only half a metre in diameter and simply made from Japanese origami paper.
Nowadays, the average lantern is six metres in size and lit by bulbs rather than candles, so you will see a whole host of different materials that aren’t threatened by wax or flame. While this festival is an unusual albeit captivating way to celebrate Christmas, it is famous in the Philippines for its spirit and the draw it brings in with tourists – not to mention the vast array of designs it showcases!
Since 1966, Sweden has marked Christmas with a 13-metre-tall Yule Goat. Where will you find it? In the centre of Gävle’s Castle Square. Originally built for Advent, a new “tradition” soon occurred with people trying to destroy and burn down the goat. If you can get to see it before the latter occurrence, it’s a fantastic sight. Elsewhere in the country, a few days before Christmas Eve, Swedish families go in search of the perfect Christmas tree as this is a vital tradition in the country. Homes are decorated with pictures depicting brownies and winter scenes, tablecloths have Christmas patterns and the house is filled with the scent of hyacinths.
Japanese culture has never really focussed on Christmas. Seen as a novelty, over the years gifts have become more commonplace and light displays have become bigger. With social media becoming more prominent, we are now able to see the birth of a newer, quirkier tradition that could only happen in Japan; Christmas Day feasts now occur, full of Kentucky Fried Chicken. So popular is this meal, that KFC launched a very special Christmas menu exclusively for the Japanese.