Different Christmas Customs in Different Parts of the World

Christmas is not just turkey dinner and Santa Claus climbing the chimney, when the U.S. version Christmas swept the whole China, so let's take a look at other countries and how they doing in Christmas...

When we think of Christmas, we think of eating turkey, exchanging gifts, red-and-white-clad fat men climbing down chimneys, and 25 December. But that's not the case everywhere. Here are a few arbitrarily selected examples.

AUSTRALIA: Christmas Flavors on Summer Beach

Celebrated: 25 December

Father Christmas? Yes, but more prone to wearing sunglasses and fur-trimmed red shorts

Food: A vast roast turkey is not so appealing in 40°C heat, but some still go for it. Others serve it cold. Prawns are also popular.

Notes: A summer Yuletide feels a bit back-to-front for us Northern Hemisphere chauvinists, but Christmas Day on Bondi Beach is something to behold. Otherwise, it is much like a British or American Christmas – gifts, food, family, telly, booze and arguments all make their appearances.

ETHIOPIA:Very unique Christmas Food with its Own National Characteristics

Celebrated: 7 January

Gifts? No

Father Christmas? No

Food: Injera, a local sourdough pancake bread, with rich stews and meats. No turkeys.

Notes: The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church is closely related to the Coptic Church, and still uses the Julian calendar, rather than the Gregorian as followed in the West. Hence their Christmas – or “Ganna” - falling 13 days later. 12 days after Ganna, they celebrate Christ's birth in a three-day festival called Timkat.

AMERICA: Standard Christmas?

Celebrated: 25 December

Gifts? Yes

Father Christmas? Santa Claus, technically; while the British Father Christmas is related to Pere Noel(French Santa Claus), Santa Claus comes from the Dutch Sinterklaas(Dutch Santa Claus). They've become interchangeable over time, though.

Food: Lots of it, predictably. Ham or beef is more common than turkey, as the bird (native to the United States) is the traditional centrepiece at Thanksgiving, a month earlier, but there is a wide variety.

Notes: Turkeys, the red-and-white Santa Claus, and many of the modern “traditions” of British Christmas are directly taken from our cross-Atlantic cousins. Perhaps ironically, the pilgrims who colonised America tried to ban the celebration altogether in 17th-century Massachusetts.

BRITAIN: Christmas + Work + New Year = Holiday Sandwich

Celebrated: 25 December, obviously

Gifts? Yes

Father Christmas? Yes, although (see above) we have moved away from the green-cloaked “spirit of bonhomie” that Dickens would understand, to the red-and-white gift-bringer Santa Claus.

Food: Turkey! Lots of turkey. Although before the big American bird became commonplace over here, a goose was traditional (hence the carol saying “Christmas is coming, and the goose is getting fat”). Trimmings vary from household to household, although roast potatoes and Brussels sprouts are regular features, and the author of this piece would like to make it clear that Christmas dinner without bread sauce is just a warmed-up dead bird.

Notes: Christmas trees, carol singing, the Salvation Army, eating leftovers for a week, Boxing Day football, cold damp weather, the Queen's Speech, that infuriating bit between Christmas and New Year where you have to go back to work for three pointless days; it's British Christmas.

GERMANY: Gluttonous Feast

Celebrated: 25 December (although they also celebrate St Nicholas's Day on 6 December)

Gifts: Yes – in a shoe, candy for good children, twigs for bad, on St Nicholas's Day

Father Christmas? No, St Nicholas; although as with so many places, the British/American tradition has taken hold strongly through films and adverts, so the red-and-white image is common.

Food: Hearty fare, as you might expect. Christmas Eve in Germany is called “Dickbauch”, or “fat stomach”, as tradition has it that those who go to bed hungry that night are tormented by demons as they sleep, so the big meal is late that evening.

Notes: Christmas trees first arose in Germany, and go up on 23 December – not a day before. They are decorated with sweets. German Christmas markets, which go up from the end of November, are a famous tradition, selling various oddments, meats and treats.

FRANCE: Delicous Food on the Christmas Eve

Celebrated: 25 December

Gifts? Yes, although adults exchange them on New Years' Day

Father Christmas? Oui, mais en France il s'appel “Père Noël”. He visits on 6 December, bringing small gifts, and again on Christmas Eve.

Food: Reveillon, the big Christmas meal, is held late on Christmas Eve and carries on past midnight (hence the name, which roughly means“waking meal”). Goose or turkey is common, but the French being the French they also get some lobster and foie gras in there.

Notes: The Nativity is a big deal in France (although not as big as in Catalonia; see below) and every home will display a small scene somewhere.

RUSSIA: Santa Claus? Christmas Girl?

Celebrated: 7 January (the Russian Orthodox Church uses the Julian calendar)

Gifts? Yes

Father Christmas? Not exactly; the rather more stern-sounding Grandfather Frost (“Ded Moroz”) and his helper, Snegurochka, split the duties. The exact relationship between Snegurochka and Grandfather Frost is ill defined. Some say she is his granddaughter. Some say....well, never mind. St Nicholas is a famous figure too.

Food: Goose, fish and pork are all served, together with various bean and cabbage stews

Notes: During the Soviet period, Christmas was not a holiday in Russia. When we think of Christmas, we think of eating turkey, exchanging gifts, red-and-white-clad fat men climbing down chimneys, and 25 December. But that's not the case everywhere. Here are a few arbitrarily selected examples.

* Original address of this China gift post: China Gift and Fine Arts & Crafts in China


The Best Christmas Gift for Men: Do not Let Him Accompany you During Shopping

Did you know that Christmas shopping is even worse for our health than we previously thought?

Perhaps it's the added stress this year - and the thought ofour credit cards being refused at the tills --- but, according to aninternet retail survey, the incidence of hypertension during thefestive shopping season is on the up.

Christmas shopping increased blood pressure to dangerous levels in 50 percent of shoppers. This can lead to hypertension, which can increase the risk of heart disease, stroke and kidney problems. Even low levels of hypertension are linked with migraines, panic attacks and osteoporosis. Heart rates increased by an average of 10 percent during Christmas shopping.

In the study of 16 men and 16 women, men had the worst spikes in heart rate during a 90-minute spree.

Samuel Thompson, 30 years old:" I had to buy five items and had an hour and a half to buy them. No fun no sweet--or so I thought."

"Normally, I know exactly what I want to get and do it as quick as possible. But in this test you were demand to make on-the-spot decisions, which makes it more stressful."

"Lack of time and the crowds were the biggest pressure points. I got frustrated by other people slowing me down by stopping to chat in the street. And I could feel myself sweating in queues. Everything took longer than planned."

Dr Turner's verdict:" Sam's heart rate was good at the start but it had almost doubled by the end. Combined with his hiked systolic blood pressure--up by nearly 15 per cent--it could put him in line for stroke. Systolic blood pressure relates to the pumping out of blood by the heart."

Men suffer twice as much as women, apparently, and are,therefore, in greater danger of dying on the High Street in the coming weeks.

Remember, a husband is for life and not just for Christmas.

* Original address of this China gift post: China Gift and Fine Arts & Crafts in China