Christmas Culture around the World


December is the favorite month of the year for many people. This is mostly because of the meaningful holiday, Christmas. Christmas is the religious and cultural commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ annually, on December 25th. Though it is Christian event, it is celebrated as a public holiday in most parts of the world by non-Christian people. Furthermore, it has developed into different forms of culture and how they commemorate Christmas varies according to the custom of the region.

Christmas in Philippines (Eunhee Kim)

Philippines is one of the main countries in Asia with a dominant Christmas culture due to the Christian characteristic of the country, with about 80% of the people being Christians. It is well-known that the Philippines celebrate the world’s longest Christmas season with the duration of several months. At the earliest Christmas carols are heard from September and last until January 9th, known as the Black Nazarene.

A notable activity celebrating Christmas is Simbang Gabi, also known as Misa de Gallo. It is a pre-Christmas service, from December 16th to 24th,  practiced mainly by Catholic churches. The people attend the Masses and participate in the novena as a meaning of devotion to God. After the Simbang Gabi, the Catholic families treat themselves with traditional food such as bibingka, rice flour and egg-based cake, and salabát, ginger tea. This grand feast in the midnight is called Noche Buena.

The latest celebration of Christmas is the Feast of the Santo Niño which is on the third Sunday of January. It is mostly associated with Santo Niño de Cebú, the first Christian icon that is brought to the islands. The event is focused in Cebu, where the Sinulog Festival is held.

An interesting fact about the Christmas in Philippines is that there are various ways of expressing “Merry Christmas”, since the Philippines has 8 major languages. For instance, in Tagalog, it is ‘Maligayang Pasko’ and in Ilonggo, it is ‘Malipayon nga Pascua’.

Christmas in Spain (Eunhee Kim)

Christmas in Spain is also regarded as an crucial holiday for the people and the religion. It is referred to as “Navidad”, while Christmas Eve is referred to as “Nochebuena”, and 26th as Sant Esteve, which is when family gathering takes place.

The foods for Christmas varies according to the distinct region, but typically the meal is started with seafood dishes. The meal continues with variety of foods such as homemade soup, roast lamb, and turró. Pavo Trufado de Navidad(turkey with truffles) and Mariscos y Pescado(shellfish and fish) is the special dishes in Spain for Christmas. The Christmas feast among families start at Christmas Eve and last until 6 o’clock in the morning of the next day. After the midnight service, the Spanish come out to the streets carrying torches, playing drums, tambourines and guitars. They shout out loud, ‘Tonight is the good night and it is not meant for sleeping!’. The children receive some presents on the 25th by Papá Noe, the imitation of the American Santa Claus.


Christmas in Australia (Seunghyun Kang)

In Australia, the Christmas comes in the beginning of the summer holiday due to the Australia located at southern hemisphere of the earth! Children have their summer holiday from mid December to the February, so there are some people who are camping during the christmas. Because it is so hot in Australia during the christmas seasons, there are quite often bushfires occur in country. Many bush fire fighters are involved to save people and property and guard traveler from all over the country. In each state capital city there is a large carols by candlelights. There are lots of pageants, festivals and parades in each state’s. In some places, there is a fireworks display at the local park. As it is the middle of summer in Australia at christmas time, the words to the carols about snow and the cold winter are sometimes changed to special Australian words! Therefore it is seemed that Australia has their own christmas carol unlike the other countries. The Australian santas give a reindeer rest and they use kangaroos, with the Australian traditional carol song, called ‘six white boomers’. Also, they changes their clothes to less ‘hot’ ones! Most families try to be home together at the Christmas day and have main meal normally in lunchtime. Most people have a cold christmas dinner, or a barbecue with seafood such as prawns and lobsters along with the ‘traditional english’ food. On Christmas Eve, fish markets are often full of people who are queuing to buy their fresh seafood for Christmas day.


Christmas in Germany(Seunghyun Kang)

For the christmas in Germany, a big part of celebrations in Germany is Advent. Advent means ‘Coming’ in Latin, which means the coming f jesus into the world. It is the period of four Sundays and weeks before Christmas (or sometimes from the 1st December to Christmas day). German christians use the four Sundays and weeks of Advent to prepare and remember the real meaning of christmas. German people use several traditional Advent calendar. The traditional one made of card that are used in many countries, there are ones made out of a wreath of Fir tree branches with 24 decorated boxes or bags hanging from it. Each box has a little present in it. Another type of calendar is called ‘Advent Kranz’, and it is a ring of fir branches that has four candles on it. One candle is lit at the beginning of each week in Advent.

 In typical german house, christmas tree is very important. They were first used in Germany during the Middle Ages. If there are young children in the house, the trees are usually secretly decorated by the mother of the family. The christmas tree was traditionally brought into the house on Christmas eve. Sometimes, the trees are covered with colored plastic sheets and with electric candles inside, and pit in windows to make the house look pretty from the outside. Christmas Eve is the main day when Germans exchange presents with their families. In some parts of the Germany, during the evening the family usually read the Bible and sing Christmas songs such as O Tannenbaum, Ihr Kinderlein Kommet and Stille Nacht (silent night).

Also, Germany is well known for its Christmas Markets where all sorts of Christmas foods and decorations are sold. Perhaps the most famous decorations are glass ornaments. The class ornaments were originally hand blown glass and were imported in the USA.