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Different Christmas celebrations around the world

By HarryFriday 12th January 2018

In the UK, we bring in the Christmas season with carolling, mince pies, and Christmas specials of our favourite sitcoms and soaps. The rest of the world, though, celebrates in very different ways.


In Scandinavia, their winter season is legendary. While the temperatures plummet and snow covers the landscape, Norwegians cosy up inside by dining on kjøttboller and other warming treats. In Norway, when Christmas comes, their own traditions are designed to keep their home cosy and safe. Norwegians think of Christmas Eve the same way we do about Halloween. They believe this is the date witches and other scary creatures creep out, breaking into houses to steal brooms they can fly on. So, households hide their brooms in the cupboards so the pesky witches can’t whizz off with them.


Like Norway, Iceland also uses Christmas as a time to scare children. In this case, the Christmas period means being visited by 13 trolls that creep down from the mountains. The story goes, that Grýla, a terrible ogress and her 13 troll sons spend the time from the 23rd of December to the 6th January visiting the houses of the children of Iceland. The children leave their best shoes out for the trolls, the good ones receive presents and the naughty will get rotten potatoes. As well as these trolls, Icelandic people also have the giant black Christmas Cat to deal with. It prowls Iceland on Christmas Eve, devouring anyone who doesn’t receive new clothes for Christmas.

New Zealand

There is more to New Zealand than hobbits, wizards and elves. The islands of New Zealand are made up of a delicate ecosystem, making this extraordinary country completely unique to anywhere else in the world. This means that their Christmas traditions are a little different to what we are used to. Here, our Christmas celebrations are usually signified by a pine tree. In New Zealand, they use a pohutukawa tree in their Christmas cards and carols. Instead of singing ‘Oh Christmas Tree’, New Zealand school children sing about how the pohutukawa tree fills their hearts with ‘aroha’ (Māori for love). The phhutukawa tree blooms beautiful red flowers during Christmas time, noted in 1933 by Henry Williams, a missionary who was holding a church service underneath the crimson blooms. The red flowers are sometimes plucked, and used as table decorations for Christmas lunch.


We are all used to the celebratory Christmas lunch, where friends and family all come together, to eat and eat until we can’t eat anymore. In Portugal, the Christmas feast is an important part of the day, where loved ones who have passed away are remembered. The Christmas meal is called consoda, and the hosts will lay places for friends and family who have died. This practice not only remembers their loved ones, but is thought to bring good fortune to the house for the rest of the year.
Will you adopt any of these traditions for your Christmas? Or, why not sail extraordinary destinations with us and see them in real life.

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