Unique Christmases Around The World
The Philippines is known for having the longest Christmas season, ever. Filipinos reportedly start celebrating the holidays on September and officially close them on February after the Three Kings' Day. That's five months of Christmas out of the year!
While you're probably familiar with how Filipinos get their holiday cheer on (queso de bola paired with hot chocolate, anyone?), check out the unique and curious ways these seven countries celebrate the most anticipated holiday of the year.
Many people associate powdery white snow, frosty snowmen, and sitting by the fire with Christmas. But for Australians, given their country's geographical location in the Southern hemisphere, Christmas for them is all about surf and sand! That's right, come Christmas season, summer is in full swing in Australia. Rather than sledding down snowy slopes, you'll probably find Australians riding big waves and working on their tans.
While not widely celebrated as a religious holiday in this East Asian country, Christmas in Japan is still a season know for spreading joy, admiring pretty Christmas lights that illuminate major cities, and feasting on traditional Japanese Christmas fare — in particular, fried chicken. To promote its fried chicken in Japan during the '70s, American fast food chain KFC launched a Christmas campaign that, well, seemed to work well beyond their expectations. Japanese people literally storm KFC branches to order a tasty Christmas meal and top it off with strawberry sponge cake with whipped cream (the cake slice emoji represents this typical Japanese Christmas dessert).
Similar to other countries that have large Christian populations, Indians that celebrate Christmas also go to midnight mass and follow it up with a feast for the whole family. A stark difference though is how they decorate their homes during the most festive time of the year; rather than picking out a pine tree, Indians decorate banana or mango trees with Christmas decor! An interesting tropical take on the classic Christmas symbol.
The city of Naples in Italy is responsible for a rather unique addition to a typical Italian Christmas. On the 8th of December, it's common for Italian households to display an ornate crib in their home to symbolize the coming birth of Jesus and the ever recognizable Nativity scene; Naples is world-famous for crib-making. What makes this more interesting is that Italians often decorate the crib with other non-Biblical images and characters with real-life icons like figurines of politicians, celebrities, and other famous people. Some cribs can be meters-high and include up to 600 figurines!
The Netherlands and Holland
Christmas, or at least receiving Christmas presents, comes extra early for Dutch children. The Netherlands has a Christmas tradition that says that the 5th of December is when Sinterklaas (a.k.a. Santa Claus, a.k.a. St. Nicholas) comes to bring them sweets, gifts, and other surprises — but only if they've been good! Also, according to Dutch tradition, Sinterklaas doesn't visit you at home via reindeer and sleigh. He travels from Madrid, Spain, goes on a boat, and chooses a different harbor to arrive in every year.
Kids in Haiti get lots of freedom during the Christmas season! Not only are they allowed to stay out during the wee hours of the morning during the nights leading up to Christmas Eve (a lot of neighborhoods have Christmas activities that go on till late during this time of the year), they're also permitted to have a regulated sip of Anisette to celebrate Christmas alongside their older family members. It's an alcoholic beverage made with anise leaf extract, rum, and sugar. Eggnog has nothing on this lip-smacking drink!
The relatively small Christian population in Pakistan celebrates Christmas with much gusto. Aside from celebrating the birth of Christ, December 25 in Pakistan is also a holiday that commemorates the life of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan. The double-celebration invites many people to congregate in plazas and streets for parties, but for Pakistani Christians, the night is filled with vigils and processions, caroling, and midnight mass services. These people wear their most colorful clothes and rather than staying at home to celebrate with close family, Christmas is a community celebration best enjoyed in Church courtyards where food vendors and stalls of every sort congregate. The best part is that Muslims celebrate this holiday alongside their Christian counterparts.
What other unique Christmas celebrations have you experienced? Let us know, and Happy Holidays!