The traditional Christmas in the United Stations consists of weeks, if not months, of preparation. It has become very commercialized with Christmas trees, decorations, shopping sales, gift buying, and more, but there are families who go to Christmas church services and celebrate the original, religious meaning of Christmas as well.

Whether you celebrate Christmas for the religious aspect, the excitement of decorations and spirit, or a little of both, it is a time of the year when families and friends reunite for delicious food, traditions, and the Christmas spirit. The American traditions of presents, Christmas trees, and more don’t carry out exactly throughout the world. There are many similar aspects, but each country has a different cultural tradition for Christmastime. Check out how people celebrate Christmas around the world.


Brazil is known for unique Christmas “trees” of electric lights. These magical light trees are spectacular to see along skylines of major cities such as Brasilia, São Paulo, and Rio de Janeiro.

brazil christmas electric tree lights

Photo via Artery


The Canada Post continues the tradition of replying to all the letters children send to Santa. Children (or, like, people in their twenties who need some Christmas spirit) can send their letters to Santa before December 16th at the address: Santa Claus, North Pole HOH OHO, Canada.

canada post santa-letter

Photo via Canada Post


In Greece, Christmas trees are not a common part of the holiday season. A more traditional sign of the holiday season is a shallow wooden bowl with a piece of wire that has a sprig of basil wrapped around a wooden cross. The basil hangs into a small amount of water in the bowl, and each day, the cross and basil are dipped into holy water and used to sprinkle water in each room of the house. It is a ritual that is believed to keep away the Killantzaroi, which are goblins that are believed to appear during the 12 days after Christmas.


Greenland is apparently where Santa Claus lives during his summer vacation. The legend goes that he has a home in northern Greenland in Spraglebugten, west of the island Uummannaq.


Photo via Spectacular Places


Ethiopians celebrate Christmas on January 7 because they still follow the ancient Julian calendar. The celebration of Christ’s birth is called Ganna, and everyone attends church wearing all white. Many dress in a traditional white shamma, while urban Ethiopians might wear white Western clothing.


The Philippines has another alternative to the Christmas tree. They decorate their houses with something called a ‘parol.’ This is a bamboo pole or frame that is made into a lighted star lantern. It represents the star that guided the Wise Men in the Bible story about Jesus Christ. Another common tradition in the Philippines is a midnight feast after the Christmas Eve mass. This feast is called Noche Buena, and it is a big celebration with friends, family, and lots of food.

christmas philippines parol

Photo via Flickr/Fredricke Pusong

How do you celebrate Christmas?


Sydney Pereira is a student at New York University trying to change the world while simultaneously making enough money to travel when she's not studying or writing. She's also an athlete, music-lover, and avid news reader. When she's not exploring NYC, fresh flowers from the farmer's market and a cup of hot tea on a lazy Saturday are equally fulfilling.


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