Turkey and all the trimmings, Christmas crackers with terrible jokes, The Queen’s Speech and countless Christmas specials on the television are just a few recurring themes of the traditional British Christmas.
In other parts of the world, however, Christmas is celebrated quite differently. From fireworks in Guatemala to fish soup in the Czech Republic, here we take a look at how six different nations indulge during the seasonal festivities. Feliz Navidad!
Nigeria (Happy Christmas)
Nigerian Christmases centre around the importance of family, with many people holidaying away from urban districts to visit relatives in rural villages. Parties are often thrown on Christmas Eve and markets and traders are still in business on Christmas Day, with many people buying animals that will soon appear on their plates for Christmas dinner!
Brazil (Feliz Natal)
Unlike the traditional Western Christmas, in Brazil Christmas Eve is the day for celebrations. For others, they start as the clock strikes midnight on 25 December, and Christmas Dinner, which will usually consist of chicken, rice and beans, is served. Like many other Catholic countries, attending Midnight Mass remains a strong tradition in Brazil.
In Guatemala, Central America, Christmas is celebrated with parades and processions, called pasadas by the locals, through urban areas in the week leading up to Christmas Day. Pasadas are often accompanied by the sounds and sights of drums, fireworks and lanterns, with people lining the streets to watch. Upon the dawn of Christmas Day, people exchange an ‘abruzo de Navidad’, which is a Christmas hug, shared with friends and family as a gesture of goodwill. Firecrackers are set off twelve hours later, at noon on Christmas Day.
Czech Republic (VeseleVanoce)
One quirk of the Czech Republic’s seasonal traditions is its link with its 10th century monarch and patron saint, King Wenceslas, who later became popularised in the famous Christmas carol. The traditional Christmas dinner in the Czech Republic consists of fish soup and potato salad. The season is also used as an attempt to foretell the future. Girls throw shoes over their shoulders and put cherry twigs in water – and from these, try to determine whether or not they will marry and leave the family home.
Christmas is usually an extended event in the Philippines, in one of the world’s warmest nations at Christmas time. Carol singing and present buying start early and Christmas masses are held from 16th December onwards. Many features are synonymous with Western Christmas celebrations, such as school nativities and lots of festive telly, but there are also interesting differences, such as the hanging of star-shaped lanterns (parol) outside of houses, a Filipino equivalent of the Christmas tree. Interestingly, in Filipino culture, 28th December is regarded as Holy Innocents Day, and is celebrated by playing practical jokes on one another – mirroring 1st April in other cultures.
In Finland, Christmas is focused on the long-standing celebration of the Declaration of Christmas Peace in a ceremony that is broadcast to the nation. The ceremony consists of trumpets, the reading of the declaration, the National Anthem and a hymn by Martin Luther. But for the rest of the world, Finland’s place on the Christmas map is defined by the presence of Father Christmas himself in Lapland, and the abundance of snow, huskies and reindeer, making it one of the most popular holiday destinations in the world at this time of the year.