Imagine being able to take a full 24 hours to experience and enjoy different Christmas Day celebrations taking place around the world… It may not be physically possible, but at least we can pretend to by writing about it and sharing new traditions we’ve found to be particularly intriguing.
Let’s start in the east: New Zealand and Australia. It’s not surprising that Christmas Day sounds pretty similar to the UK; Christmas trees, presents, Christmas dinner, Boxing Day sales, etc. It would be hard to miss one significant difference though – it’s summer! Christmas in this part of the world is always sure to be a warm one, hence why lots of families ditch the dinner and head to the beach for an alternative barbecue. Who wouldn’t want to take advantage of a stress and washing-up free day in the sun, especially if you’re not a fan of the cold? One difference you may spot in New Zealand; the pohutukawa tree. With beautiful red flowers that blossom at this time of year, these trees are considered equally as festive as the usual decorated pine trees.
Next, a quick stop in Fiji, where residents enjoy a month long Christmas. Again, many traditions are shared such as eating and being together. However, on Christmas Day itself, and until well into the new year, you’ll find all members at the largest house in the community celebrating together, with traditional singing and dancing using ‘meke’ (fans used by women) and spears, used by men. Lamps and candles can be found throughout houses in Fiji as part of Christmas decorations, as well as vibrant ribbons wrapped around trees.
Heading West, Catalonia, a north-eastern region of Spain, enjoys a bizarre yet exciting tradition, called ‘Caga Tió’ (also known as ‘pooping log’). Popular Christmas character ‘Caga’ is fed and looked after by children for two weeks before Christmas. He has a wooden face, two front legs, and he grows every day… (spoiler alert: maybe parents are filling ‘him’ with presents?) On the big day, you hit him with a stick, piñata style, so that he’ll poop out presents - perhaps one of the stranger traditions around the world, but why not? Sounds like a good laugh for everyone involved.
Heading onto Brazil, no doubt natives will be relaxing with family on the beach as, like New Zealand and Australia, Christmas takes place in summer. Big celebrations will have already taken place the night before on Christmas Eve; Midnight Mass, or ‘Missa do Galo’, often followed by extravagant firework displays to celebrate the birth of Christ and to welcome Christmas Day.
Finally, why not finish the day in Alaska? You’ve covered the length of the world and you’re basically guaranteed a white Christmas, so end the day making snowmen galore in a winter wonderland!
It’s clear that cultural customs for Christmas Day differ between countries and continents, but the values of family, peace and joy can be found everywhere at this time of year. Whatever your traditions are, be proud of them and be merry!