What Christmas festivities look like around the world
With Christmas just weeks away, experts have revealed some of the unique ways the holiday is celebrated around the world.
The language and culture experts at Busuu have looked into the different ways countries celebrate Christmas, with findings including KFC for lunch in Japan and Christmas on the beach in Australia.
The research shows that some countries have traditions and celebrations that Brits may find a bit strange.
Many countries enjoy fish as part of their Christmas dinner, rather than traditional UK favourites like chicken or turkey, mainly because these options are harder to find.
For Japan, the difficulty of finding chicken means that people rush to KFC as part of their Christmas dinner!
All of the countries on the list tend to decorate their homes during the festive period – except in Japan, where families are usually unable to fit a Christmas tree inside of their homes so they opt for smaller ones.
Unlike other nations, China doesn’t go all out for Christmas. The holiday tends to be more of a commercial event and people use the day to get together with loved ones.
A language expert at Busuu said: “Christmas is clearly a huge occasion here in the UK – full of different traditions, like putting up the Christmas tree, having Christmas dinner, and leaving biscuits and milk out for Santa!
“Not every country celebrates Christmas the same – some have their own unique traditions and some don’t really celebrate Christmas at all.
“If we look at Australia for example, they celebrate Christmas in the middle of summer, so they actually spend their morning out on the beach going for a swim!
“In Japan, Christmas is mainly celebrated by families with young children, and couples tend to treat the holiday like Valentine’s Day.”
How Christmas is celebrated around the world:
Christmas festivities in Australia are very similar to the ones here in the UK, the one major difference though is that it is the middle of summer for those who live down under.
Australians will have very similar Christmas decorations, but their tree will be more suitable for the hot weather.
Before lunch families will take a trip out to the beach for a swim, and later enjoy food like turkey and ham, accompanied with fresh salad and seafood! A lot of people will still eat traditional turkey and stuffing but seafood, especially prawns, is very popular.
In fact, fish markets tend to be open for 36 hours straight on Christmas Eve to serve everyone!
Like the UK, Christmas is celebrated by most people in France. They decorate their homes and will also set up an advent wreath, which has four candles. As each week in December passes, another candle is lit.
The French also celebrate on Christmas Eve. Everybody tends to dress up and eat a large meal which usually involves lobster or some other seafood and everyone will go to bed very late. Then on the 25th they wake up,open presents and have a late lunch.
Christmas dinner consists of goose or capon with chestnuts, truffles and mashed potatoes.
In Germany, Christmas is celebrated on the 24th and it’s a big deal. Families start prepping for it as early as October. Like in the UK, they decorate their homes and put up their Christmas tree. It’s actually believed that the Christmas tree is a tradition that originated in Medieval Germany.
Children in Germany have their own version of Santa. Depending on which region they live in, their presents will either be delivered by Weihnachtsmann or Christkind.
Saint Nicholas Day is also a big holiday in Germany, celebrated on the 6th December. Children typically polish their shoes the night before and leave them out while they sleep. In the morning they’re filled with tasty treats like chocolate coins and sweets.
The start of Christmas in Poland really takes place on the 24th. When the first star appears families will fast until the evening meal.
Christmas dinner will usually be filled with lots of fish dishes. Beetroot soup is very common to have with mushroom dumplings, which literally translates to “little ears”.
Like in the UK, Christmas trees will be bright and decorative with presents underneath, as well as a display of the nativity scene. Children in Poland very much believe in Santa, though they refer to him as St Nicholas.
Christmas is a big celebration in Japan and the festivities tend to start around November. Christmas decorations in Japan are very similar to ones in the UK, except Japanese homes tend to be smaller so rather than a large tree, people opt for something smaller. Because of this, children wake up with their presents next to their bed as opposed to under the tree.
What’s interesting about Christmas in Japan is that it’s only celebrated by families with children or couples. Couples treat Christmas like Valentine’s Day, they’ll go on a date, go have some dinner and give each other gifts.
As for Christmas dinner, people in Japan will typically eat a meal from KFC. In Japan it’s very hard to find chicken, so KFC’s across the country usually end up with long queues and some people even pre order the chicken in advance.
In China, Christmas tends to be more of a commercial holiday, rather than one that is actually celebrated by families. Major cities and department stores will be decorated with large Christmas trees and bright lights.
Families who choose to celebrate Christmas will tend to use it as a happy excuse for get togethers with family and friends.
For those who put up a tree in their homes, it will usually be a plastic one decorated with paper chains and paper flowers.
Similar to Japan, it is hard to find traditional Christmas food in China. Traditional Christmas food will mainly be found in some large supermarkets and large supermarket chains like Walmart.