Every country has its Christmas customs, but no matter where you are celebrating, you’re always in for a treat! 
When we think of Christmas, we paint pictures of beautifully decorated Christmas trees, delicious traditional meals and wrapped-up gifts in our mind. For years, Christmas has been celebrated in bright and sparkling colours, but did you know that Christmas is celebrated differently throughout the world? In fact, in certain countries Christmas day is not even acknowledged at all. Let’s take a walk through a few of the continents around the globe and explore how this period is celebrated: 

How Christmas is celebrated on the different continents 

Christmas in Africa 

From Egypt to South Africa, the African continent forms a large part of the world with 54 countries. Though, when it comes to the celebrations of Christmas, Africa is in stark contrast with the festivities in the Americas and Europe. Some countries do not observe this day at all, but many African Christian communities celebrate Christmas in some way. Traditions and customs differ from country to country, but the idea of families gathering remains the same. 
In most African countries going to church is the main custom on Christmas Day. Countries such as Ghana and South Africa take part in Christmas carols on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, while Children in Malawi go from house to house to perform special dances over the Christmas period. 
In large parts of Africa, it is also a tradition to have a big Christmas dinner when different types of meats, often goat and chicken, as well as rice, fufu and pineapple salad are prepared and enjoyed. 
The tradition of handing out gifts is not popular in most African countries, except for South Africa. 

Christmas in Europe

Europe is known to celebrate Christmas in style and with flair. Many European countries, including Germany, Belgium, Denmark and Netherlands, are known for its large annual Christmas markets or Christkindlmärkte. Here you can find beautifully hand-crafted gifts for the whole family, as well as fresh home-made, traditional Christmas treats, including Weihnachtsstollen, Banket and Kerstkransjes
Many historians believe that the idea of a Christmas tree, as well as the Advent Calendar actually originated in Germany, but travelling through the continent, you will find these in most stores in almost every country. 
In France, Christmas is known as ‘Noel’ and just like in other European countries such as Spain, Italy and Greece, St. Nicholas Eve on the 5th of December is celebrated as the start of the Christmas holidays. On this night, children leave their shoes outside in the hope that they will receive small gifts in them. 
Other European Christmas traditions include setting up the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve, taking part in the Nativity play, hanging up mistletoe and decorating the house, handing out Christmas crackers and cooking traditional Christmas dishes. In Europe, children remain the focus point of the Christmas celebrations and they take part in almost all of the traditions. 

Christmas in the Americas 

In North America, families have adopted many of the European Christmas traditions. Trees are decorated, homes and businesses are lightened up with Christmas lights and Christmas carols can be heard in almost every town and city’s streets. 
In North America, including in Canada and the United States, families come together for a few days over Christmas to go shopping, prepare food and to wrap gifts. Traditional foods include Roast turkey and ham, and eggnog is a popular traditional drink enjoyed over the Christmas holidays. 
In South America some countries have started to adopt the European Christmas traditions. Many families will decorate their homes and hang socks over the fireplace. Santa Claus is also a present figure, although it is known by different names, including ‘San Nicol√°s’ and ‘Viejito Pascuero’. In Argentina, people enjoy large meals, including lamb and pork, with a traditional vanilla bread called pan dulce as desert on Christmas Day. In Brazil, they make a traditional sweet bread called panetone and indulge in other sweet treats over the holidays. 

The tradition of Christmas gifts 

Not only do people decorate their homes and businesses over the Christmas period, but Christmas is also a time for giving. The custom of gift-giving first occurred in Ancient Rome when gifts were exchanged on the first day of the new year. However, as time passed, the date was moved to the 25th of December, the most significant day on the Christian calendar. Today, this tradition has boomed; shops are filled with presents in every shape and form. In fact, it has become very easy to find meaningful gifts at affordable prices for friends and family nowadays. A quick look at popular shops’ online catalogues, such as the Checkers specials, you will find that stores usually have incredible specials over the Christmas period, which makes it easy to give without breaking the bank. 

Christmas is celebrated differently throughout the world. Every country has their own customs and traditions that go along with this special holiday. Yet, one thing has remained ever so constant, Christmas is a time for the gathering of families and friends. It’s a time for coming together, celebrating love and being content. This year make it one to remember – Merry Christmas! 
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