Christmas Traditions From Earth’s Seven Continents

Christmas Traditions From Earth’s Seven Continents


While Christmas Day has come and gone, the decorations, lights and traditions that accompany this joyous holiday are still on full display across the globe. In fact, countries from all parts of the world in one way or another celebrate the Christmas season before and after December 25.

Here’s a list of seven Christmas traditions on seven continents. While some of them are religious by nature, others combine secular activities with the celebration of the birth of Jesus.

Europe: Ireland’s Nollaig na mBan

Unlike many countries around the world, Ireland celebrates the twelve days of Christmas from Dec. 25 to Jan. 6, calling the last day “Nollaig na mBan,” which is Gaelic for “Little Christmas.”

On this day, the men honor the women for all their hard work in preparing for Christmas by doing all the housework and taking down the Christmas decorations. The women enjoy a nice relaxing day with friends drinking tea and eating the remaining Christmas treats.

South America: Bolivia’s Three Kings Day

On Jan. 6, those in Bolivia celebrate the birth of Jesus with a tradition known as “Dia de los Reyes,” the Three Kings Day. Just as the wise men brought gifts to the newborn baby, they also deliver gifts to Bolivia children.

The day before Three Kings Day, children place their shoes outside the home with letters to the wise men. The following morning, the children race outside to find their shoes filled with candy and pastries.

Asia: China’s Peace Apples

The Chinese transliteration of the phrase “Christmas Eve” means “peaceful evening,” and sounds very similar to the Chinese word for “apple.” As a result, some Chinese Christians give each other “peace apples” during the Christmas holiday.

The apples’ close association with Christmas has given it a Chinese cultural meaning of bringing peace and safety to those who posses the delicious fruit. Christians often gift each other “peace apples” as a sign of Christian charity and celebration.

North America: Mexico’s Luminaries

In Mexico, Christians use paper bags lit with candles to “show the way” to Christmas. These “luminaries” light the way for Jesus, Mary, and Joseph to enter the homes of Christians celebrating the Savior’s arrival.

Along with a small candle, each bag is filled with sand to weigh it down. The candle is burnt as an act of prayer and families walk among the hundreds of illuminated bags that light up the outdoors in Mexico.

Oceania: Australia’s Adelaide Christmas Pageant

Every December, the Australian city of Adelaide hosts the largest Christmas parade in the Southern Hemisphere. Well over 300,000 people attend to watch the festival’s floats, bands, choirs, dance groups, and costumed performers celebrate the holiday season.

The parade has occurred every year since 1933 and has only been canceled once, due to World War II. While the first parade only lasted 40 minutes, it attracted 200,000 spectators. The floats and sets are designed by Australian artists who receive rewards for their work.

Antarctica: South Pole’s Race Around the World

On the third smallest continent, the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station hosts a race around the world on Christmas Day. Researchers complete three laps that pass through every time zone, with the male and female winners receiving a well-earned prize: a 10-minute hot shower.

Typically, the research station only allows for two-minute showers, so the Christmas Day race prize is highly coveted. Outdoor summer temperatures at the South Pole rarely rise above zero degrees Fahrenheit.

Africa: Nigeria’s Fireworks

From the beginning of Christmas Eve all through Christmas Day, Nigerians set off fireworks and firecrackers to announce the season. While families light up the sky as part of a Christmas ceremony, children prank their parents and other adults by setting off fireworks by surprise.

The sound of the fireworks can be somewhat deafening, causing police to tighten regulations to increase public safety. Nonetheless, the endless crackle of fireworks signals that Christmas has arrived!

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