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How Christmas Is Celebrated in Five Countries around the World

Christmas is celebrated in various ways worldwide, with unique customs and traditions that reflect each region’s linguistic and cultural diversity. Let’s look at how Christmas is celebrated in five countries around the world. 

Christmas in Italy

The Christmas celebration in Italy involves traditions rooted in culture, religion, and gastronomy.

The Advent season marks the beginning of Christmas preparations in Italy. Italian families often decorate their homes with lights, ornaments, and Christmas trees during this time.

In many Italian cities and towns, Christmas markets are organized where decorative items, gifts, and typical gastronomic products of the season are sold.

Similarly, the nativity scene, known as presepe in Italian, is a fundamental part of Christmas decoration. Many families place nativity scenes representing the scene of Jesus’ birth in their homes.

During the traditional Christmas dinner, several traditional dishes are served, with the cenone (big dinner) being a feast that includes fish, seafood, pasta, and desserts such as panettone and pandoro.

An interesting  word associated with Christmas in Italy is panettone. Panettone is a delicious sweet bread with fruits and nuts characteristic of the Christmas season in Italy. This dessert is traditionally consumed during Christmas celebrations and has gained popularity worldwide.

Christmas in France 

Christmas in France is filled with cultural, gastronomic, and family traditions. 

The streets and squares of cities and towns in France are illuminated with festive lights and Christmas decorations, creating a magical atmosphere. 

Christmas markets, known as marchés de Noël, are popular and offer handmade products, gifts, and gastronomic delights. 

Christmas Eve dinner, known as Réveillon, is an essential tradition in France. It is a plentiful and festive meal that often includes dishes such as oysters, turkey, foie gras, seafood, and the classic dessert bûche de Noël (Yule log). 

Each region of France may have its own traditions and customs. For example, the Provence region is expected to have the “Dîner de treize desserts” (Dinner of the Thirteen Desserts) after the Midnight Mass. 

A curious phrase associated with Christmas in France is bûche de Noël, which is a traditional Christmas dessert shaped like a tree log. This treat, often made with sponge cake and buttercream, is decorated to resemble a wooden log and is consumed during Christmas celebrations in France.

Germany

Christmas in Germany is a holiday filled with traditions rooted in culture, religion, and a sense of community. 

Christmas markets are a beloved tradition in Germany. They are set up in city squares and towns, offering handmade products, Christmas decorations, gifts, and various traditional foods and drinks. 

Many German families also have an Advent wreath in their homes. This wreath, usually made of green branches and decorated with four candles, is lit every Sunday of Advent. Each candle symbolizes one week before Christmas. 

Adventssingen is a tradition where people gather to sing Advent and Christmas songs in local communities, churches, or even at Christmas markets. This practice fosters a sense of community and celebration. During Advent, special dinners are celebrated where families come together to share traditional meals. 

Christmas Eve dinner, called Heiliger Abend, is an important family celebration with a festive meal. On December 6, the feast of St. Nicholas (St. Nikolaus) is celebrated. In some regions, St. Nicholas brings gifts and sweets to well-behaved children, while Krampus, a mythological figure, scares naughty children. 

A curious word associated with Christmas in Germany is Lebkuchen, which are gingerbread cookies that are a classic delight during the Christmas season in Germany. These cookies often have decorative shapes and are often decorated with icing.

Christmas in China

Christmas celebrations in China vary depending on the region and community, as Christmas is not traditional. 

However, in urban and cosmopolitan areas, Christmas has become a festive and commercial occasion in recent decades. 

In large cities like Beijing and Shanghai, you can expect to see streets and shopping centers decorated with lights and Christmas ornaments. Stores and restaurants also often decorate shop windows to attract customers during the holiday season. 

The decorated Christmas tree tradition has also gained popularity in some urban areas. Many people install trees in their homes and offices and decorate them with lights, balls, and festive ornaments. 

Similarly, the figure of Santa Claus and other elements of Western Christmas culture are recognized in China, although their meaning may vary. Images of Santa Claus are often used in advertising and decoration. 

A curious word associated with Christmas in China is “平安夜” (Píng’ān Yè), which means “Night of Peace” or “Quiet Night.” This expression is used to refer to Christmas Eve, the night of December 24.

Russia 

Christmas in Russia is celebrated according to Orthodox Christian traditions and has cultural peculiarities. 

The Russian Orthodox Church follows the Julian calendar, so Christmas is celebrated on January 7 instead of December 25 (Christmas Day according to the Gregorian calendar used in most Western countries). 

Before the Christmas celebration, many Russian Orthodox people observe a forty-day fasting period known as Advent fasting. During this time, certain foods such as meat and dairy products are avoided as spiritual preparation for the holiday. 

A unique Russian tradition is the representation of biblical and folk scenes known as vertep. These performances, featuring actors embodying biblical characters and famous figures, are often held in the streets or churches. Christmas festivities may also include traditional games, folk songs, and dances in some rural areas, especially in Siberia. 

A curious word associated with Christmas in Russia is “Дед Мороз” (Ded Moroz), which means “Grandfather Frost” or “Father Cold.” Ded Moroz is the Russian equivalent of Santa Claus and is a traditional figure in Russian Christmas celebrations.

 

Read also: Five Traditional German Foods to Try

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