Christmas traditions from around the world

Christmas time is full of traditions. Whether it’s dressing up as a horse, throwing pudding at the ceiling or decorating a banana tree, it seems that no matter where you are in the world there will be something you can join in with!

Here are 12 traditions from other countries which you may or may not want to begin with your family…

  1. A Caracas Christmas in Venezuela: It’s customary to travel to early-morning church services during the festive period on roller skates – roads are even cleared to provide Christmas worshippers with a safe passage.
  2. Going bananas: People who celebrate Christmas in India decorate banana trees and mango trees as there are no fir or pine trees available! They also use the leaves to decorate their houses.
  3. Postcode finder: Father Christmas has his own postcode in Canada – H0H 0H0. For the past 30 years, thousands of Canada Post volunteers reply to millions of letters from children around the world every year.
  4. The ghost of Christmas past: During ‘consoda’ – Portugal’s traditional Christmas feast – families set extra places at the dining table for deceased relatives to ensure good fortune for the household.
  5. Changing colour: Christmas isn’t a national holiday in Japan, but it’s celebrated by a large number of the population. However, they only send white Christmas cards as red cards are traditionally the colour of funeral announcements.
  6. Straight from the horse’s mouth: In some rural areas of Wales, a villager is selected each Christmas to perform the ritual of Mari Lwyd. They parade around the streets with a horse’s skull fastened to the end of a wooden pole, while villagers sing traditional songs.
  7. Shoe toss: During Christmas, unmarried women in the Czech Republic and Slovakia perform a ritual where they hurl a shoe over their shoulder to determine how successful their love life will be during the following year. If the shoe lands with the toe pointing towards their front door, it means they will be wed within the year.
  8. Christmas games: Christmas is celebrated on 7 January in Ethiopia. On the day, everyone wears white and the men play ganna – a fast-paced game with sticks and wooden balls.
  9. While shepherd washed their socks by night: In the Philippines, Christmas celebrations last all the way to January. Children leave their brightly polished shoes and freshly washed socks on the window sills for the Three Kings to leave gifts in when they pass through their houses at night.
  10. A spoonful of pudding: Every Christmas in Slovakia, the most senior man in each household will take a spoonful of the traditional loksa pudding (a mixture of sweetened poppy seed and bread) and throw it at the ceiling! The more that sticks, the luckier you will be!
  11. A spidery Christmas: As well as having tinsel, fairy lights and baubles, Ukrainian Christmas trees are traditionally adorned with an artificial spider and web. It is said that seeing a spider’s web on Christmas morning brings good luck.
  12. Naughty or nice: To celebrate St. Nicholas Day in Germany, children leave a shoe outside their house on 5 December.  If they’ve been good their shoe will be filled with sweets, but naughty children awake to find a tree branch or a lump of coal in their shoe instead.

If you have any traditions, we’d love to hear from you. Please email internal_communications@rnli.org.uk and let us know how you celebrate Christmas or other occasions like Diwali, Hanukkah or Thanksgiving.