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Christmas traditions from around the world

Moving abroad and experiencing Christmas in a different country may be daunting for a new expat, but why not get into the Christmas spirit and learn some of the traditions of your potential new home.

Here are some of the Christmas traditions you can get involved with from countries around the world:


Expats might be surprised experiencing Christmas time in the blazing heat but this is the norm in Australia, with the peak of their summertime covering the festive period. Most of the Australian traditions echo those of the UK with carol services, Christmas trees and Christmas lights. You may however get thrown by how Santa delivers his presents using white kangaroos instead of reindeers to pull his sleigh, according to the Australian Christmas song ‘Six White Boomers’.

Get ready to celebrate your Christmas time around a Boxing Day barbeque on the beach, instead of huddled around the fire roasting chestnuts.


We all know that when America does something they do it big, with Christmas being no exception. Expect bright lights, big trees and heaps of Christmas cheer. Although the USA has many traditions that mirror those in the UK, they do miss some key events. For starters, Christmas crackers aren’t a necessary table accessory so don’t expect any paper hats, plastic toys or hilarious cracker jokes. The other thing you might miss is Boxing Day which is not celebrated in the USA, unless you’re in Canada you won’t be having cold turkey leftovers or pulling the remaining crackers.

If you can, do get yourself to New York over the holidays, the bright lights of the big city are made even more spectacular with the addition of the famous Rockefeller Christmas tree that stands at nearly 100 feet to really get you into the Christmas spirit.


Christmas starts early in Germany with St. Nicholas Day on the 5th – 6th of December, when children leave their cleaned shoes or boots outside the front door for Santa Claus or Nikolaus who delivers sweets and fruit to all the children that have been good that year. He also has a sidekick, in the form of his servant Knecht Ruprecht, who delivers twigs to the children who have been naughty.

Don’t forget to check out all the beautiful and world famous Christmas markets which start popping up around the nation from the 1st December. The markets are full of wooden stalls selling everything from handmade crafted toys and decorations to beer tents with mulled wine and craft beers.

South Africa

If you’ve moved to South Africa, you can expect an exact replica of UK traditional Christmas with the added bonus of sun. Christmas in South Africa, like Australia, is during their summertime so expect to be eating your turkey dinner with all the trimmings whilst bathing in the sun.

South Africa enjoy all the classic festivities from home with carol services, Christmas trees and Christmas crackers.


Italian Christmas is all about family, friends and love – much like the UK. They also receive presents on the 25th December, although some wait until Epiphany, l’epifania, on January 6th. In Italian tradition it’s the good witch La Befana who delivers the gifts although nowadays the majority of Italians do tell the story of Santa Claus.

Another tradition is the abstinence of meat on Christmas Eve, so instead feast on a host of different fish; some families even prepare a variety of as many as 20 different fish.

Photo Credit: Pexels

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