Photos of what Christmas looks like around the world

Glitter pines, Santa Claus, and stockings are some of the Christmas ideas of many people, but the holidays can be very different around the world.

From Europe to Asia to the depths of Antarctica, here’s how Christmas is celebrated in nine places around the world – and one place. in orbit around the world.


Christmas celebrations in Croatia start early, with some traditions starting in November.

Like other Europeans, Croats also celebrate St. Nicholas’ Day in early December, during which children put their shoes on, expecting St. Nick to leave them with candy and small gifts, according to the website. St. Nicholas Center Christmas Resource.

In some parts of Europe, children think that Saint Nicholas leaves chocolates and gifts in their shoes if they have behaved well. Otherwise, Krampus, a monster-like creature, may leave charcoal or dried twigs.

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“As a child, I used to leave a shoe on the window,” said Antonio Zdunich, who was born in Croatia. “Someone was filling it with gifts and candy during the night, and I would wake up and be all happy”

Many Croatian families are planting wheat on December 13 with the belief that if it grows well the next year will be prosperous for them, he said.


Swedes decorate Christmas trees and exchange gifts, just like in other parts of the world, Swede Patrik Kerttu said.

The Disney special titled “From all of us to you all” is regularly the most-watched Swedish television show of the year, competing only with the country’s selections for the Eurovision Song Contest.

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They also celebrate with Donald Duck. Last year, more than 4.5 million people, almost half of Sweden’s population, watched the 1958 Disney special “From all of us to all”, according to the English-speaking European news network, The Local. The show has aired there every year since 1959.

Popular foods this time of year are meatballs, ham, smoked or pickled salmon, pickled herring and a potato-anchovy casserole called Jansson’s Temptation, Kerttu said.


While some parts of the country celebrate in different ways, Christian families in India typically combine Western traditions with customs unique to India.

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“Christmas is quite an important holiday for my family as it is the one time in the year that most of the family get together,” said Isha Meleth, who is Christian and originally from the state of Kerala, in southern India. “We are building a Christmas crib [nativity scene] in front of the house … on Christmas Eve. “

Two popular Christmas dishes are kheer, a type of sweet milk pudding, and kallappam, a coconut-rice pancake that’s more common in southern India, Meleth said.


For most Japanese, Christmas is a secular affair rather than a religious one.

Many Japanese celebrate the holiday much like Valentine’s Day, with couples spending the day together, according to JR Pass, a Japanese train travel company. It is common for people to go to dinner parties and walk around looking at Christmas lights with their partners.

One of the most discussed traditions – at least outside of Japan – is the culture’s fascination with having fried chicken for Christmas, often from American fast food chain KFC.

One theory behind the Japanese custom of eating KFC at Christmas is that it was a foreigner’s food of choice for the holidays since turkey was not available. This inspired the company to market it as a Christmas food, a representative from KFC Japan told CNBC.

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A 1974 holiday marketing campaign called “Kentucky Christmas” kicked off a practice that is now celebrated by millions of Japanese people, said Tatsuya Noguchi, a representative for KFC Japan.

According to Noguchi, pre-orders for meals like the “Party Barrel” or the “Christmas Pack” begin about seven weeks in advance. The restaurant chain also recorded its highest sales of the year between December 23 and 25, he said.

“The busiest day each year is December 24, which is about five to 10 times as busy as the annual average,” Noguchi said.


About 92% of the 110 million people of the Philippines are Christians. Christmas is the most important time of the year in the Philippines, and the country is said to celebrate the holiday longer than anywhere else, from September to January.

“Like many Latin cultures, my family in the Philippines celebrates Nochebuena, which is a big party on Christmas Eve,” said Siena Klinzing, who is half Filipino. “It involves getting together as a family, having a big feast and sharing gifts.”

For many Filipino families, Christmas is incomplete without lechon, a whole roast pig with crispy skin.

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She said her family would stay up, much like New Years Eve, to wish everyone a “Merry Christmas” as soon as the clock strikes midnight, she added.

Another important tradition is Simbang Gabi, which means “mass at night,” where people wake up before dawn to attend mass for nine days from December 16 to 24. It is believed that those who complete the nine days can ask for a blessing, Klinzing says.

United Arab Emirates

Although the official religion of the UAE is Islam, Christmas is celebrated in some parts of the country.

This is a particularly important case in the emirates of Abu Dhabi and Dubai, where a large number of expatriates reside.

Dubai hosts large, ornately decorated Christmas tree lighting ceremonies, like this one at Al-Wasl Dome at the heart of Expo 2020 Dubai.

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Shopping malls and hotels are often heavily decorated with Christmas trees that span multiple floors, according to Visit Dubai, the emirate’s official tourist site.

Christmas markets, shows and special holiday menus at restaurants are also common in December.


Christmas in Mexico is marked by large parades with floats and colorful costumes, candy-filled pinatas and nativity scenes. But one of the country’s most popular customs is Las Posadas, a celebration during the nine days leading up to Christmas.

Costumed dancers take part in a traditional Christmas and New Years parade in Chilpancingo, a town in the Mexican state of Guerrero.

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“Every night people form a procession of songs meant to represent Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem,” said Mexican food blogger Mely Martinez.

These processions usually culminate at someone’s house, where everyone gathers for a party with dishes such as tamales, Christmas punch and candy, she said. Other popular Christmas foods include pozole, sweet fried dough donuts called bunuelos, and a hot chocolate drink called champurrado, Martinez said.


Christmas is a time of migration for many in Kenya. Cities, including the capital Nairobi, experience an exodus in December as masses of people flock to their hometowns and villages to reunite with their families.

Believers of Legio Maria, a religious movement born among the Luo people of western Kenya, attend an overnight Christmas mass near Ugunja, Kenya on December 25, 2017.

Fredrik Lerneryd | AFP | Getty Images

Most churches hold a night vigil on Christmas Eve, where people sing Christmas carols and hymns for hours, said Shikriti Mandal, who grew up in Kenya.

On Christmas Day, families and friends host a feast that often includes barbecued goat or lamb meat called nyama choma, Mandal said.


Currently, the South Pole is home to 70 permanent research stations representing 29 different countries, according to Oceanwide Expeditions, a travel agency in the Arctic and Antarctic.

Since the usual Christmas hustle and bustle is absent, stations are finding creative ways to celebrate with colleagues.

A man dressed as Santa Claus is on his way to visit the Seabourn Quest cruise ship on Christmas morning at Cuverville Island in the Antarctic Peninsula region.

Wolfgang Kaehler | LightRocket | Getty Images

“Each of our five Antarctic research stations celebrates Christmas in its own way, depending on the weather,” said Kathleen Maclean, representative of the British Antarctic Survey. Some can roast a turkey and eat canned and frozen vegetables, while others sing Christmas carols, watch Christmas movies and play board games, she said.

Despite the festivities, research continues because “long-term surveillance data has yet to be collected,” Maclean said.

International space station

Such is the spirit of Christmas that humans have found a way to celebrate it 227 nautical miles (420 kilometers) above Earth.

According to the NASA website, astronauts aboard the International Space Center have celebrated Christmas, Hanukkah and the New Year for the past 21 years and have developed a few traditions along the way.

Celebrations aboard the ISS include decorating the station, tasting plastic-bagged versions of traditional foods like turkey, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and cookies, and filming videos of holiday greetings that are sent back to earth.

Christmas also comes twice on the Space Station as it falls on January 7 on the Russian Orthodox calendar, which many Russian astronauts follow.

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