Christmas Around the World

There are many unique Christmas traditions around the world. Christmas is arguably the biggest holiday of the year in many countries and is unique in that it's celebrated around the world. However, not every country celebrates it the same way.

In Austria, the Christmas celebration starts with the feast of St. Nicholas, which signifies when the devil comes with the saint and asks children about their good and bad deeds. The good children are given sweets, toys and nuts. Presents under the tree are opened after dinner on Christmas Eve.

Christmas in Venezuela is celebrated starting on December 16th, where families bring out their pesebres, which are specially designed Nativity scenes. It's also traditional to attend one of nine carol services. Fireworks are set off, and bells are rung in the early morning hours to call worshipers to Mass.

In Denmark, Christmas is celebrated while a mischievous elf named Nisse has his fun. It's said that he lives in the lofts of old farmhouses and enjoys playing pranks. He wears grey clothes and a red hat, red socks and white clogs. Families leave him a bowl of rice pudding or porridge to keep his jokes in line.

In the Czech Republic, a traditional Christmas dinner is a soup made of cod roe. Family members tell stories about a mythical golden pig. Since the weather is usually snowy, the celebrations center on the home.

Sweden celebrates the Santa Lucia festival, where the youngest girl in the home wears a pine bough crown with lighted candles. She serves sweet buns to the rest of the family. Christmas trees are decorated with apples, candles and straw ornaments. Codfish is the traditional Swedish Christmas dinner.

In Mexico, they celebrate La Posada, where people re-enact the search for shelter by Joseph and Mary before the birth of Jesus. On Christmas day, Mexican children break a decorated clay piñata and attend a midnight service to sing carols and light candles. Poinsettias, the traditional Christmas flower, also originated in Mexico.

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Christmas is a special time for children, and every parent wants to make it something memorable, something magical. That may seem like a tall order considering the seasonal hoopla and commercial excess that now associates itself with this celebration, but the magic can be kept if a little forethought goes into holiday preparations.

While many stories are related to the history of Christmas traditions, a family's culture and heritage have a big impact on the types of activities, food and customs associated with the celebration of the birth of Christ.

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Italian Christmas traditions are a festive blend of Christian influences and pagan celebrations. Whether your family is Italian or you just want to explore global holiday traditions, you can incorporate some old-world charm into your holiday.

Although they are not well-known worldwide, Polish Christmas traditions are full of important symbolism. If you are of Polish ancestry, perhaps incorporating a few Polish Christmas traditions will help you feel more connected to your family's heritage.

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