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Christmas Holiday Traditions Around the World

Curious about holiday traditions around the world?

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We were too, so we thought it would be fun to follow the Yowie map and learn how people celebrate their special days. While there are many holidays and various traditions, we discovered that Christmas is one of the most widely celebrated holidays. We hope you enjoy learning about these different Christmas holiday traditions. We’ve added in some fun animal facts too!

HOLIDAY TRADITIONS IN THE UNITED STATES AND CANADA

“Merry Christmas”

First we’ll travel to North America, where you can find our friends like the Grey Wolf, North American Beaver, Northern Racoon, Moose, Brown Bear, American Bald Eagle, and American Crocodile.

Here, holiday traditions differ a great deal by region. In the United States and Canada, fun holiday traditions include writing letters to Santa, decorating evergreen fir trees, stuffing stockings and singing Christmas carols. Many have even adopted the fun tradition of including the Elf on the Shelf, an adorable scout from the North Pole who hangs out around the house, encouraging kids to stay on their best behavior.

There’s typically a big feast to enjoy as well, featuring turkey, ham, mashed potatoes and gravy. And while people in the United States are enjoying such dessert favorites as fruitcake and gingerbread cookies, Canadians are serving up their own traditional treats, like mincemeat tarts and plum puddings.

HOLIDAY TRADITIONS IN MEXICO

“Feliz Navidad!”

Unlike in the United States and Canada, the Christmas season in Mexico (where our coyote friend can be found) is much warmer but every bit as festive. Families decorate their homes with lilies and evergreen plants and use brown paper bags to create lanterns called farolitos. Holiday revelers place candles inside their farolitos and use them to decorate and illuminate walkways, windows, and even rooftops. 

What are the holidays without traditional foods and favorite treats? In Mexico, Christmas is celebrated with a hearty oxtail soup, chili, turkey, and a salad loaded with luscious fruits and vegetables. Favorite holiday treats include bunuelos, a light fried dough with cinnamon, and a hot fruit punch called ponche navideno.

AUSTRALIAN HOLIDAY TRADITIONS

“Happy Christmas”

Australia is home to several of animal friends, like the Pacific Starfish, Great White Shark, Platypus, Koala, Wombat, Red Kangaroo, and the Sharp Nosed Stingray. 

Here, Christmas occurs during Australia’s summer, so traditional holiday fun includes beach parties and outdoor gatherings at the park. Santa has no need for woolen gloves and fur-trimmed boots during the Australian Christmas season. You’re far more likely to see him wearing brightly-colored swimsuits and shades, perched atop a sleek surfboard, while riding the waves. 

Street parties and caroling by candlelight add even more excitement to this special time of year, as do the delicious feasts, which include favorites like prawns, roasts, and oysters. For dessert, Australian Christmas treats include pavlova, a meringue-based cake with whipped cream, and their own delicate version of Christmas pudding made with fruits, nuts and white chocolate.

HOLIDAY TRADITIONS IN FINLAND

“Hyvää joulua” or “Buorit Juovllat”

In Finland, Christmas trees aren’t decorated with twinkling electric lights, tinsel and garland. Instead, you’ll find apples, stars, and a variety of sweets adorning their branches. 

The major feast takes place on Christmas Eve, and includes traditional favorites, such as baked ham, liver casserole, salmon and root veggies. For dessert, Christmas tarts and mixed fruit compote are most always on the menu. In this country, where relaxation is highly prized during the holidays, a soothing trip to the sauna is also atop their list of things to do.

CHRISTMAS IN GREENLAND

“Juullimi Pilluarit” or “Glædelig Jul

One of the oldest and most beloved holiday traditions in Greenland is to light a red-orange star in the windows of homes and buildings. This is usually the first sign that the holiday season has started and a signal for many to start decorating their Christmas trees.

Christmas fir trees are a big part of the holiday fun in Greenland, but they have to be imported. Despite their name, evergreens don’t thrive in Greenland! The region is much too cold for them to grow and flourish. But putting up a Christmas tree is still such a fun tradition. Decorations include candles and brightly colored ornaments. Those who do not import an evergreen (which is usually from Denmark) can still get in on the fun by decorating a local driftwood tree. 

As far as feasting is concerned, traditional holiday foods include a soup or stew called suaasat and reindeer. Dessert is always something to look forward to, with fancy Danish cookies and scrumptious pastries loaded with fresh berries.

SWEDISH HOLIDAY TRADITIONS

“God Jul”

Sweden is home to the Polar Bear, of course! 

In Sweden, the Christmas decorations aren’t quite as flashy as in many of the regions we’ve mentioned. Here, they are much more subtle, featuring candles, wreathes, and simple ornaments made of straw. Christmas tree decorations tend to be a bit fancier, however, with flickering candles, gnomes, flags, and apples among the many festive ornaments. 

The feast is traditionally served as a midday meal on Christmas Eve, and includes such favorites as smoked salmon, pickled herring, meatballs, sausages and potatoes. Desserts feature homemade treats like ostkaka, a unique Swedish cheesecake.

CHRISTMAS IN THE ANTARCTIC CIRCLE

On the Antarctic Peninsula, Christmas occurs mid-summer and is often celebrated in 24-hours of daylight! This remote region is both icy and mountainous, and the majority who live here are likely to be scientists working at research stations. And while it isn’t as large a celebration as it is in other parts of the world, those who do recognize the holiday do so with a simple meal followed by a festive party. 

Depending on the backgrounds, cultures, and interests of those who participate, revelers usually create a holiday meal together showcasing their diversity. With fresh foods being in such short supply, their Christmas feast typically includes meats and vegetables that are dried, frozen and canned. The spread may also include treats sent or brought from home and saved for that special occasion. 

This is home to the Orca! The holiday spirit inspires some to erect one-of-a-kind Christmas trees using unwanted items that might otherwise have been considered junk.

There are countless holiday traditions around the world, making this a very special time of year!

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