Here at rankingCoach, we have an international team from multiple different continents and many different countries. As a change of pace, we thought it would be cool to tell you a bit about how other countries celebrate Christmas.
Since rankingCoach is located in Germany, it would make sense to mention the German customs to our English fans.
Our German colleague had the following to say:
In Germany, we mainly celebrate Christmas on the 24th of December. The family gets together in the afternoon or evening to open the presents. Most people are having dinner together, which often is a huge Christmas goose with red cabbage and potato dumplings. Before or after the dinner, everyone opens their presents. Some people prefer to give handmade presents, some like to give very expensive presents, and yet others agree not to give anything for Christmas, and just have some time together with the family. Most families have a Christmas tree, which takes place in the living room with candles or a chain of lights and all kinds of “Christbaumkugeln”, “Lametta”, and a decorative top on the tree. Also, it is very common to set up chains of lights on the outside of your house or maybe in the windows. In some families, the children will have to recite a Christmas poem or sing a song to get their presents. They are told, the presents come from the “Weihnachtsmann”, which is Santa Claus or also from the “Christkind”, which would translate to “Baby Jesus”. Some families like to sing Christmas songs together in the evening or in church as well. Songs like “Oh Tannenbaum” or “Stille Nacht” are very popular. On “Heiligabend”, the 24th of December everyone wishes “Frohe Weihnachten”, but on 25th and 26th you wish it as well. Right after Christmas people start to wish everyone “Guten Rutsch”, which means, that you should have a nice run into the next year. On “Silvester”, New Year’s eve, at 12 o’clock, Germans will say “Frohes Neues Jahr”, which means Happy new year! On New years there are a lot of huge parties and everyone is watching fireworks or doing them by themselves in front of their houses."
Germans sound like they don’t celebrate it too much differently than Americans :-)
Our Italian colleague wished to say the following about Christmas in Italy:
In Italy, Christmas lasts about one month, from December 8th (the "Immacolata day“, when the traditionally "Presepe“ and the "Christmas tree“, are set up) until the January 6th (the "Epiphany“, celebrating the visit of the Magi to the infant Jesus). Traditionally, the first Christmas supper is celebrated on December 24th and it is called "Cenone“. It is served at home and children recite little verses for their family. The Cenone’s menu excludes meat dishes and is based mainly on fish (codfish or sea bass). For dessert, the most important Christmas sweet is "Panettone“. Family parties continue until almost midnight, when everyone exchanges Christmas gifts (especially toys for children and clothes for adults), celebrates the birth of Jesus, and attends church services. On the morning of the 25th December, children unwrap Christmas presents that Santa Claus (called ""Babbo Natale“) left under the Christmas tree the night before. The Christmas Day lunch is the most important Christmas family tradition in Italy. While Christmas Eve’s supper is a meatless meal, on Christmas Day it is permissible to eat meat. Usually, it will be stuffed "Cappone“ (capon) or "Tacchino“. In the following days, according to tradition, Italians use to meet parents and friends wishing Merry Christmas and Happy New Year (“Buon Natale e Felice Anno Nuovo“), playing card games altogether, and having a drink with a good glass of "Grappa“ (Italian grape-based pomace brandy). “La Festa di San Silvestro” is celebrated on December 31 on New Year's Eve. Families and friends get together and celebrate Silvester with a huge dinner “cotechino e lenticchie” (a kind of meat and lentils), symbolizing money and good fortune for the coming year. Most towns have public displays in a central square but private parties will also include firecrackers or sparklers, too, and will continue for a long time.
The Italian way sounds interesting, and it would be nice to have fish for a change.
Poland is another country that we have someone from, and she wished to say the following about the holidays in Poland:
In Poland, Christmas time is one of the most important days in the whole year and we celebrate it from December 24th till the 26th. The 24th of December is usually a crazy day in every family. People are in the kitchen preparing dishes for Christmas dinner. In Poland, we have 12 main traditional dishes such as Christmas Eve red borscht with ceps ravioli, Christmas Eve Carp, Herrings, “Pierogi” with sour cabbage and mushrooms, kutia, and poppy seed cake. After the traditional family dinner in most families, it is time to unpack gifts which can be anything from small to large things. It happens as well that some people unpack gifts in the morning on the 25th of December directly after waking up. Typical Polish Christmas contains a Christmas tree, houses decorated with Christmas symbols, a lot of tasty food, and family spending time together and singing carols like “Dzisiaj w Betlejem”, “Cicha Noc” or “Wsród Nocnej Ciszy”. In Poland, Santa Claus is A very important symbol of Christmas and we call him Święty Mikołaj. If you want to wish someone “Merry Christmas” in Polish, you should say „Wesołych Świąt”. Silvester is also a very important day in Poland A lot of people go out to many different parties and some stay at home and celebrate it calmly with friends and drink champagne as the New Year comes. The character of Silvester (New Years') is less official than Christmas and it’s not so connected with the catholic religion. If you’re in Poland during Silvester, you can show off to your Polish friends by wishing „Happy New Year” in Polish which is „Szczęśliwego Nowego Roku!”.
Poland sounds even more different, and I think the hardest part would just be properly pronouncing Polish!
Our Dutch colleague also wished to relate how the holidays are in The Netherlands:
We celebrate Christmas: religious people go to church on Christmas night (December 24th) and on Christmas day (the 25th) we have dinner with the family. Traditional Dutch Christmas dishes are "hazepeper", "stooper" and "appelmoes" and of course turkey is sold a lot. When drinking coffee or tea we have our "kerststol". Sharing gifts are shared more and more, however, it is not a tradition. We started with presents in the last 20-30 years. We put them nowadays under the Christmas tree. The "main event" is still Sinterklaas on the 5th of December. We celebrate Christmas only for the last 20-30 years, so we don’t have a real tradition. Religious people go to church, in the evening on TV there are Christmas movies and we listen to Christmas songs. Traditionally we have a Christmas tree and the amount of decoration grows every year. We call Santa Claus "kerstman" (Christmas man). I'm dreaming of a white Christmas is the most popular Christmas song. In one sentence: prettige feestdagen en een gelukkig nieuwjaar. Silverster (New Years') is totally different from Christmas. Silvester is celebrated with family and friends or at public places with a lot of people. At midnight we light firecrackers and drink champagne.
We hope you enjoyed reading about how other countries celebrate the holidays. And Happy Holidays to you from the rankingCoach team!