International Christmas Customs

Unique ways other countries celebrate Christmas

Abby Milkes, Editor-in-Chief

The United States has many Christmas traditions- putting up lights, baking cookies, and opening presents just to name a few. But what are some Christmas customs that go on outside of the United States? Let’s take a look at five countries that have unique Christmas customs.

1. Philippines— The city of San Fernando holds the festival Ligligan Parul annually. Also known as the Giant Lantern Festival, this celebration features thousands of lanterns, which symbolize the Star of Bethlehem. Each lantern has hundreds of spinning lights that shine bright in the night sky. Because of this, San Fernando is known as the “Christmas Capital of the Philippines.”
2. Iceland— Similar to the idea of 12 days of Christmas, Iceland participates in 13 days where the children get a visit from the 13 Yule Lads each night. They place their shoes on the windowsill, and if they were good, will wake up to shoes filled with candy. If they were bad, their shoes will be filled with rotten potatoes.
3. Finland— For Christmas morning breakfast, Finnish people eat porridge topped with either cinnamon or butter. Inside the porridge is one almond, and whoever can find it wins. Additionally, at the end of the night, it is customary for the family to go into the sauna together.
4. New Zealand— Christmastime falls in the summer in New Zealand, so many of their traditions are traditional summertime activities. They have a cookout with fresh seafood and seasoned vegetables. Also, their Christmas tree is the Pohutukawa, which is a tree that blooms a bright red color around this time of year.
5. Japan— Christmas is not a national holiday in Japan, but they still celebrate through food. Instead of the traditional turkey dinner,

The Ligligan Parul Festival in the Philippines starts on Dec. 16 and runs until Jan. 2 (photo courtesy of Creative Commons).

many citizens go to KFC to enjoy a Christmas meal. This tradition began after the popular “Kentucky for Christmas!” campaign; people even order two months in advance so that they won’t have to wait in the long line on Christmas Day.

People around the globe celebrate Christmas, but each country has its own unique traditions. Wherever they live, people all around the world will share their special traditions with family and friends during the Christmas season.