One of the things I love about Christmas is that it’s a very universal holiday, there are more people around the world that celebrate it than any other holiday, and we do it all on the same day. To celebrate that unity today I thought we’d take a look at some Christmas traditions and how to say Merry Christmas in 25 languages! It’s a great opportunity to get in a little education and try some new things with the kids, too.
Germany: Germans hide a pickle in the Christmas tree on Christmas eve, the first child to discover it in the morning receives a small gift. They also leave a shoe outside the house on December 5th, which is filled with sweets over night if they’ve been good or a tree branch if they’re not.
Columbia: Little Candles’ Day (Día de las Velitas) marks the start of the Christmas season across Colombia. In honor of the Virgin Mary and the Immaculate Conception, people place candles and paper lanterns in their windows, balconies and front yards.
Argentina: Their celebrations typically include the boots of Father Christmas, red and white flowers (the poinsettia), and putting cotton on Christmas trees to simulate snow. But most family gatherings take place on Christmas Eve, with huge feasts, gifts exchanged at midnight, and children going to sleep to the sound of fireworks.
Iceland: Christmas is often celebrated by exchanging books on Christmas Eve, then spend the rest of the night reading them and eating chocolate.
Egypt: fruitcake is believed to have originated here, as a necessary item for the afterlife (some say that it may last that long as well.
Greece: the tradition of mistletoe is said to have started here, as an unspoken promise to marry the one you’ve committed to.
Brazil: children receive gifts from the Magi on Three Kings Day, or Epiphany, as well as from Papai Noel on Christmas Eve. However, rather than a chimney, Papai Noel enters through the front door and travels by helicopter.
England: the tradition of sending cards was made popular by John Calcott Horsley in the late 1830’s, which quickly traveled to the US. Caroling also was popularized in England, started by wandering musicians who visited the rich, hoping for a little Christmas gift.
France: one of the big traditions in France is the burning of the Yule Log, which occurs from Christmas to New Year’s Day, following what ancient farmers did in hopes of having a prosperous next year.
Armenian – Shenoraavor Nor Dari yev Pari Gaghand
Basque – Zorionak eta Urte Berri On
Croatian – Sretan Bozic
Choctaw – Yukpa, Nitak Hollo Chito
Dutch – Vrolijk Kerstfeest
Feline – Mew Mew Meow
Filipino – Maligayang Pasko
Finnish – Hyvaa joulua
French – Joyeux Noël
German – Fröhliche Weihnachten
Greek – Kala Christouyenna
Haitian – (Creole) Jwaye Nowel or to Jesus Edo Bri’cho o Rish D’Shato Brichto
Hawaiian – Mele Kalikimaka ame Hauoli Makahiki Hou
Icelandic – Gledileg Jol
Irish – Nollaig Shona Dhuit
Indonesian – Selamat Hari Natal
Italian – Buon Natale
Japanese – Shinnen omedeto. Kurisumasu Omedeto
Latin – Natale hilare et Annum Faustum
Portuguese – Feliz Natal
Russian – Pozdravlyenie s Rozjdyestvom i s Novym Godom
Swedish – God Jul
Spanish – Feliz Navidad
Thai – Sawadee Pee Mai or souksan wan Christmas
Yoruba – E ku odun, e ku iye’dun
Welsh – Nadolig Llawen
You can see a video with many of them here.
What are your Christmas traditions?