It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Christmas is just around the corner, and if you have presents under your tree, little ones have probably taken a peek or at least shaken a gift once or twice. Aside from all the gifts, feasts, and Christmas treats, I’ve always felt that Christmas naturally brings people together wherever you are in the world.
For families, it’s about creating new traditions and continuing old ones so this end-of-the-year holiday can bring up fond moments of the people you hold dear. We wanted to take a look at how families around the world celebrate the Christmas season through traditions.
Christmas lands in the middle of summer vacation, so many of the holiday activities are outdoors. Carols by Candlelight is a loved tradition where people gather together when the sun goes down around candlelight to listen to an outdoor concert of classic Christmas Carols.
If you’re in Brisbane, the city has put together a beautifully lit enchanted forest in Roma Street Park and a visit is free. Brisbane also has Christmas Markets at South Bank, and movies at the Lagoon. Nothing like fairy lights, and classic Christmas movies to get you in the spirit of Christmas.
Home of the North Pole and old Saint Nick himself. The Canada Post recognises Santa’s mailing address as: North Pole, Canada HOHOHO. Any letters sent to Santa, will receive a Christmas greeting from Mr. & Mrs. Claus.
White Christmas means snow activities! Snow angels, building snowmen, tobogganing, and ice skating. Warming up from a cold day is a comforting experience; bundling up in cozy clothes with a hot drink in hand to keep you warm.
Canada is a large country filled with people from different cultural backgrounds, so many Christmas traditions are celebrated. Typically, houses and trees are decorated in fairy lights, stockings are hung up by the fireplace and filled with little trinkets, and some families decorate a fresh evergreen tree in their home.
The Philippines is the only Christian nation in Asia. More than 86% of the population are Roman Catholics. The Christmas customs in the Philippines are a mixture of Western and Filipino traditions.
Christmas is the Philippines’ favourite holiday and they like to celebrate for as long as possible. December 16th marks the formal celebrations of Christmas with Simbang Gabi. Simang Gabi is a series of 9 early morning masses that start at 4:00 am and continue on till the last mass on Christmas Eve. Filipinos love to celebrate Christmas with a feast of food, and typically have an open door invite for their friends and neighbours to join in the celebrations.
Advent is a significant part of the Christmas tradition in Germany. Different advent calendars are used in homes to count down the days until Christmas with treats and small gifts.
There is a German tradition where children leave a shoe outside the house on the 5th of December in hopes that their shoe is filled with sweet treats overnight. Naughty children will awake to find their shoe filled with a tree branch instead.
Germany is famous for their Christmas Markets, Christkindlmarkt, during the four weeks of advent. Christmas Markets are said to have originated in Germany, and are now held in many different countries. The history of these markets goes back to the Lake Middle Ages and are generally held in the town square where vendors would sell food, drink, and seasonal items with Christmas entertainment of carollers and dancers.
In Aristotelous Square in the city of Thessaloniki, a massive Christmas tree and a three-masted sailing ship decorated in fairy lights are placed on display and becomes a popular tourist attraction.
Children also believe in Kallikantzaroi, evil goblin spirits that according to legend, lurk underground. During the 12 day of Christmas, they rise up to the surface through people’s chimneys to cause trouble. Lighting the fireplace during the 12 days of Christmas is meant to keep the Kallikantzaroi away.
Christmas, Yule comes from the ancient winter solstice celebrations, marking the shortest day and the longest night in the year. Iceland Christmas starts at 6pm on Christmas eve and the festivities last until the Twelfth Night on January 6th.
In Iceland, the children grow up on the story of the Yule Cat. This mythical cat is said to talk the Icelandic hills. Those who did not receive new clothes before Christmas Eve are said to be devoured by this Christmas monster.
Here are a few of Mini & Friends' Christmas tradition:
“Henry and I open a Christmas present each on Christmas eve because we can hardly wait! I let him pick which one he opens as long as it’s not the biggest one.” -Suzie
"Making cookies! Especially gingerbread men!" - Henry
“On Christmas eve, my brother, mom and I would always watch scary movies. We don’t even know how it started but it just became our thing.” Dylan
“My family would always get new PJs to wear for Christmas eve, and we would wake up Christmas morning to open presents under the tree dressed in our new Christmas PJs.” Justin
“I have a really big family with lots of kids in it. On Christmas eve, our family would get together and my uncle would dress up as “filipino santa’ and hand out presents to all the kids. Since there were so many of us, the kids would each go home with garbage bags full of presents to open the next day.” Katrina
“Our dogs get to open presents too on Christmas day! Henry and Teddy got a chewy newspaper toy and a little bone each.” Chloe