Christmas is one of many beloved holidays celebrated in the winter season all around the world. A single celebration is honored in countless ways over the years and across the globe.
Today, we’re taking a closer look at how different countries around the world honor the December holiday with diverse food and traditions.
Ethiopians celebrate Christmas thirteen days after the Western world. Their Christmas falls on the 29th day of Tahas on the Ethiopian calendar, equivalent to January 7th on the Georgian calendar. For 43 days leading up the event, Orthodox Christians fast from all animal products and altering substances to cleanse their bodies of sin.
A big feast of traditional spongey bread, stews with saffron and meat, and dishes with lentils or peas serves to break the long fast and celebrate the birth of Jesus. On Christmas eve, people gather at overnight Mass wearing white cotton garments called Netela.
Christmas cookies are a big deal in Greece from buttery almond kourabiedes to sweet honey cookies called melomakarona, there is no shortage of sweet treats in a Grecian December.
Gift exchanges commonly take place on January 6th, known as Epiphany or Three Kings Day, celebrating when the Magi arrived in Bethlehem to present their gifts to baby Jesus. Orthodox individuals often present children with gifts on New Year’s Eve, the midpoint of the 12 days of Christmas.
Las Posadas is a celebration practiced in Mexico and Hispanic parts of the United States. The tradition lasts from December 16th to the 25th and honors the biblical journey of Mary and Joseph from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Across cities and towns in Mexico, children dress up in gold and silver robes to portray rolls characters from angels to Mary. The procession makes its way through the streets holding candles, sharing music, and picking up festive refreshments along the way before arriving at Mass. At the end of the night, children break open a star-shaped pinata
Christmas in the Philippines spans all four “-ber” months. Festive well wishes begin in September, followed by the decoration of homes in October before carolers start their rounds in November.
Christians, who make up 90% of the Filippino population, begin formal traditions on the morning or December 16th. This is the first of nine days of Mass known as Misa de Gallo or Simbang Gabi.
On Noche Beuna, or Christmas Eve, a huge feast is served. Popular foods include roasted pig and bibingka, a gooey rice dish baked with brown sugar.
It’s likely not surprising to hear how pickled herring in Sweden is popular during the Christmas season. Our intern, Maja Ahlberg fondly recalls a particular mix with sour cream, caviar, and chive herring. Other traditional foods include cold beetroot salad on bread, Christmas ham, and the famous Swedish meatballs. Maja describes a root beer-like drink made of spiced apple cider and soda. “Julöl” is often served with a toast “skål,” wishing all good health and a Merry Christmas.
Though different countries celebrate Christmas in a variety of ways and degrees, the universal theme of Christmas is family and togetherness. From our community to yours, we wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday Season!
By: Amelie Zirnheld | Marketing & Communications Intern