After an entire year of waiting, Christmas is finally upon us! Today, Australians all around the country are celebrating with a family barbeque, day at the beach, coconut rum balls and plenty of gift unwrapping.
What about the rest of the world? Around the globe, people celebrate Christmas with all kinds of traditions. Here’s a snapshot of the Christmas customs most of us never experience.
Los Cabos, Mexico
In Los Cabos, Mexico, Christmas is usually celebrated from 12 December to 6 January. The biggest event on the calendar is Christmas Eve, Noche Buena or ‘Good Night’, which is spent with family.
Like in America, turkey is a common inclusion at family feasts in Los Cabos. One not so familiar meal choice is romeritos, a typical Mexican dish with dried shrimp and potatoes in a mole (chocolate and chilli) sauce, accompanied with a very sweet Mexican alcoholic drink known as rompope.
Children usually write a letter to Yisus 'al nino Jesus' asking for gifts, which they receive on the morning of 25 December, from Jesus and Santa Claus, or on 6 January, from the Three Wise Men. If they’re lucky, they might receive gifts on both days!
Many Mexicans also celebrate Candeleria, marking the end of the Mexican Christmas celebrations on 2 February.
In Peru, rather than national traditions, each region has their own customs, with different food and drink to go alongside it.
In Lima, it is traditional to eat turkey, pork, panettone (sweet bread), and even drink hot chocolate – despite the fact that it is summer in December.
People celebrate on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day – the most important celebration for Peruvians is the night before at midnight on the 24th - known as Noche Buena or ‘Good Night’.
It’s not just New Year’s Eve that is celebrated with fireworks, but also Christmas. Children stay up to midnight to see the fireworks and open presents with their families.
In the Andean regions of Peru, families exchange gifts on 6 January after celebrating the arrival of the Three Wise Men for the Epiphany.
While Christmas trees are popular, it is the Nacimientos (Nativity Scenes) that are most popular in Peruvian homes. They may be constructed from wood, pottery or stone, and appear to be a typical nativity scene, but if you look carefully you will see that the animals are actually llamas and alpacas.
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Christmas in Germany is the storybook experience many of us dream about – mulled wine, snow-lined streets and endless amounts of handcrafted decorations.
Goose is the traditional dish on Christmas Day, as well as rabbit or a roast, accompanied by traditional German sides such as apple and sausage stuffing, red cabbage, potato dumplings and stollen (a popular fruit bread).
Throughout Germany, Christmas markets celebrate seasonal customs and traditions in historical settings – and there’s over 150 to choose from!
Beautifully decorated stalls offer handicrafts and gifts, festive baked treats, gluhwein (mulled wine) and delicious regional specialities. Choirs and brass-bands provide festive musical accompaniment.
Particularly popular with visitors are Nuremberg's Christkindlesmarkt and the Striezelmarkt in Dresden.
The Christmas tree was supposedly invented in Germany. According to legend, the Christmas tree had its genesis in Freiberg in 1419 when bakers hung sweets and baked treats from the branches of a tree, and the children of the city were invited to ransack the tree on New Year's Day.
Christmas is one of the major holidays in the United States of America, celebrated in a myriad of ways reflecting the diverse and multi-cultural make up of the nation.
Aside from the collective traditions of the Christmas tree, Santa Claus and mistletoe, different regions have their own customs.
At typical Christmas lunch/dinner includes roast ham or turkey, cranberry sauce, and an abundance of side dishes, followed by a dessert of pumpkin pie and fruit cake with brandy sauce.
Christmas decorations, in particular lights are hugely popular around the USA. The Grove in LA is home to a 30-metre Christmas tree, which hosts an annual event to celebrate the lighting of the tree.
Big-name pop stars have performed at the event in the past including Robin Thicke, Backstreet Boys and Far East Movement.
Ways to celebrate Christmas in the US are as diverse as the number of States. Some quirky festive events include:
- Catch Santa in his board shorts and favourite Hawaiian shirt for the 10th Annual 'Surfin Santa' in San Diego. Visitors can even pose for photos with Santa on his giant surfboard.
- The San Luis Obispo Downtown Association’s 40th Annual Holiday Parade is one of the largest parades on the California Coast. The event features nearly 100 types of floats with vehicles, marching bands, dancers and more.
- Macy’s 26th Annual Great Tree Lighting in Union Square Park, San Francisco, showcases more than 33,000 energy-efficient LED lights accompanied by 1,100 shining ornaments. Arrive early and reserve a spot at the Cheesecake Factory, which provides a bird's-eye view of Union Square.