Christmas Traditions Around the World
Christmas and the December holidays fill our world with the sights, smells, and warmth of wonderful, long-standing traditions. And although people in countries all around the world celebrate Christmas, each culture puts their own spin on it. Let’s learn about and get hands-on with some Christmas traditions from around the world.
Pomander balls originated hundreds of years ago in France, though throughout the centuries they have been made with many different ingredients. Modern pomanders (called pomandres in French) are typically made with just an orange and whole cloves.
To make your own pomander, all you need to do is stick the sharp end of the cloves all around the orange, in any pattern you’d like. Some helpful tips:
- It may be tricky for your littlest one(s) to puncture the orange skin on their own. Ahead of time, you can poke holes into the orange using a toothpick that they can then stick the cloves into without trouble.
- You can display your pomanders fresh, but they will last the longest and be the most fragrant if you allow them to dry out. Some sources say you can just hang them with ribbons to dry, some suggest storing in a brown paper bag in a cool dark location until they dry, and some suggest covering them in a spice mixture to help the process along. Try out multiple options with your little ones for a great, Christmas-y science experiment!
Although Christmas isn’t celebrated as widely in China as other parts of the world, there are still communities that celebrate it and it has become more popular in recent years. It’s celebrated in a similar way that we celebrate a holiday like Saint Patrick’s Day in the United States – a time for fun with family and friends, though you likely still have work and school as normal.
Apples are a common Christmas gift in China. This is because the word for apple is similar to the word for Christmas Eve. As you get closer to Christmas, apples become even more expensive and are often sold wrapped in fancy boxes and packaging to be given as gifts. Learn a bit more here then create your own apple ornament to hang in your window or on your tree for years to come!
Poinsettias are a beautiful plant that grow naturally in Mexico and Central America. They are an important part of Mexican Christmas traditions and are called “La Flor de la Nochebuena” in Mexico, meaning “Flower of Christmas Eve.” Listen to the short story below about the folklore surrounding the poinsettia and why it is an important part of Mexican Christmas tradition. Then, create your own poinsettia sponge painting using this simple tutorial.
In The Netherlands, Christmas celebrations come a little bit early, on December 5th and 6th. Although Christmas is still celebrated on the 24th and 25th, it is on December 5th and 6th that Saint Nicholas arrives to bring presents to the Children of the Netherlands. It is said that he arrives from Spain on a steamboat on December 5th before his birthday on December 6th. On the evening of December 5th, children put shoes, traditionally wooden clogs, out for his white horse full of hay, sugar, and carrots. In the morning, the shoes are filled with fruits and treats and children open presents. Print and color your own pair of Christmas clogs on Saint Nicholas Day this year to get into the holiday spirit.
Christmas Music Around the World
Listen to this playlist featuring some traditional Christmas hits from countries all around the world.