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Christmas Traditions from
Around the World

23 DEC 2014 - BY JOSEPH TYSON

Deck the halls with holly, break out the mulled wine and prepare to consume as many mince pies as humanly possible - Christmas is here and it's time to get festive.

But while your Christmas traditions may consist of a turkey dinner, presents you can't wait to return and too many alcoholic beverages, have you ever thought about what the rest of the world might be getting up to at this time of year?

To get you in the festive spirit, we're taking you on a global tour of the world's Christmas traditions. You never know, you might get a new idea for your own this year!

Ethiopia

Christmas Day in Ethiopia takes place on January 7th as the county follows the ancient Julian Calendar. The festivities involve visiting church dressed in all white to celebrate the birth of Christ, which is known as Ganna.

Twelve days after this, the celebration of Timkat begins for a three-day period. This spiritual festival commemorates the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan and is upheld by Ethiopian Orthodox Christians.

Australia

The festive period for Australia also happens to be during their summer, and so many of the Christmas activities here take place outside in the glorious sunshine. Other than the fact that a trip to the beach or a barbecue are common occurrences during Christmas, much of the Australian traditions are similar to those in the UK.

Santa Sandcastle

The Philippines

Christmas in the Philippines is absolutely massive and the people here try to celebrate it for as long as festively possible.

As well as the Western-influenced traditions such as Santa, decorating trees and carols, the Philippines also has a number of its own unique ways of marking Christmas. One such tradition is the 'parol' which involves creating a lighted star lantern and attaching it to a long bamboo pole. This is a typical decoration for the country and it symbolises the star that guided the Three Wise Men to Jesus. Another tradition is staying up all of Christmas Eve into the next day to attend the last mass and then engage in a midnight feast.

Mexico

In Mexico, one tradition that occurs annually is one of the most anticipated festivities of the year for young children. Starting on the 16th December and lasting until the 24th, Las Posadas sees processions heading out for nine days to commemorate Mary and Joseph's journey to the inn and involves singing carols and breaking pinatas.

Mexican Christmas Nativity

Poland

Traditionally, Roman Catholics in Poland start their Christmas celebrations by fasting during the day of Christmas Eve and then feasting come nightfall. The official dinner is known as a Wigilia and to be invited to such an event is considered a huge honour in the country.

Other customs involve watching out for the first star in the night's sky, in reference and celebration of the Star of Bethlehem.

Portugal

Christmas is a time of family togetherness in Portugal and as such one of the main traditions here is that people come home from wherever they are now living to celebrate. This could mean coming back from one of the larger cities or travelling from abroad.

Dried codfish boiled with vegetables is the traditional supper meal of Christmas Eve in Portugal, which is eaten as families celebrate the birth of Christ.

India

Although India's Christian population is very small (2.3 per cent), the fact that the nation was for so long under British rule has seen some Christmas traditions continue.

Christian Indians will still attend church as well as decorating their homes and distribute sweets to their neighbours. Some Northern parts of India also take part in the festivities, but it is generally a low key affair.

Indian Christmas Candles
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