On December 25th, Christians throughout the world celebrate Christmas, a celebration remembering the birth of Jesus Christ. Billions of Christians and non-Christians alike celebrate Christmas as a religious and cultural event.
160 nations throughout the globe celebrate Christmas, and the festivities are unique to each. Some nations observe the holiday on the actual day of Christmas, while others observe it the day before or the day after the actual day of Christmas.
In many nations, Christmas is celebrated by decorating a Christmas tree with lights, hanging Easter wreaths and stockings, and putting out candy canes, cookies, and milk for Santa.
Churches and individuals alike erect nativity scenes to commemorate the birth of their Savior. As part of their holiday preparations, many people write Christmas cards, buy presents for one another, and host a Christmas dinner for their loved ones.
As a public holiday, many governments across the globe observe Christmas as an official public holiday, while others just observe it as a cultural event and not as an official legal observance.
Afghanistan, China (save for Hong Kong and Macau), Iran, Israel, Japan, Laos, Mongolia, Morocco, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Vietnam, and many more countries do not recognize Christmas.
Pakistan, for example, has declared December 25th as an official holiday for Christians but not non-Christians.
Different countries have different Christmas customs, and some of those still in use in the United States today may be traced back to their nation of origin. Germany, Poland, Russia, Norway, Japan, and Iceland are only a few examples of nations having traditions distinct from the United States.
Instead of exchanging presents on Christmas Day, Germans do it on Christmas Eve. Martin Luther’s believed that Christmas should be about Christ’s birth and not about presents; he started this practice.
The tradition of putting up a Christmas tree at one’s house dates back to Germany. On the eve of Christmas, the tree is usually carried into the house and painted by the family’s mother in secret for the children.
Festive dinner is eaten on Christmas Eve in Poland after a day of fasting. To honor Jesus’ 12 disciples, many families provide a 12-course lunch to their guests. Pasterka, the midnight liturgy at the local church, marks the conclusion of Christmas Eve.
In Poland, Christmas Day is a day to attend church and meet with family and friends.
Because of the 13-day gap between the Gregorian and Julian calendars, Russians celebrate Christmas on January 7th. Grandfather Frost gives gifts to youngsters on the eve of the New Year.
Gifts are unwrapped on Christmas Eve in Norway, as they are in other European nations. “Nisse” gnomes, also known as “Julenissen,” are responsible for delivering presents.
Christmas Day is a sedate and low-key affair, with family gatherings and church services taking center stage. On December 26th, Christmas cookies and other delicacies are served at get-togethers and parties.
It is not a religious holiday in Japan, and the government does not recognize it as a public holiday since there are not many Christians in the country. However, in Japan, Christmas is celebrated as a time to share joy, and as a result, the country has adopted many Western customs.
On the days leading up to Christmas, people exchange presents and have holiday get-togethers. To this day, KFC restaurants throughout Japan accept reservations and orders in advance because of an advertising campaign launched in the 1970s that encouraged people to consume KFC around Christmas.
Icelanders commemorate Yule, a festival with roots stretching back to the winter solstice thousands of years before the advent of Christmas. In reality, many of the customs of Christmas have their origins in Yule.
To complete the 13-day festival, Icelanders begin their celebrations four Sundays before Christmas Day (Advent). Some people will go to church at 6:00 pm on the 24th, while others will begin their holiday lunch and unwrap their presents.
Every year, children lay out their shoes by the window for the Yule Lads, two trolls who live in the highlands and are infamous for causing trouble.
In addition to the nations listed above, more than 160 countries worldwide celebrate Christmas, each with its unique customs.
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