Christmas around the world

There are a whole host of different Christmas traditions from around the world. Lots of people celebrate Christmas, but in very different ways! We take a look at some interesting Christmas traditions and facts from around the world!

Photo by Alin Andersen on Unsplash
  • Mistletoe was held sacred by the Norse, the Celtic Druids, and Native American Indians, because it remains green and bears fruit during the winter when other plants seem to die.

  • Pope Julius I, the bishop of Rome, originally proclaimed December 25 the official celebration day for Jesus’ birthday back in 350 AD.

  • The city of Riga, Latvia holds the claim as home to history’s first decorated Christmas tree, back in 1510.

  • In the Marshall Islands people prepare for Christmas months in advance, stockpiling gifts and dividing into jeptas, or teams, that hold song-and-dance competitions on Christmas Day. They also build a piñata-like wojke containing little presents (matches, money, soap) for God.

  • In spite of Ethiopia's Christian heritage, Christmas is not an important holiday there. Most people actually call the holiday Ganna or Genna after a hockey-like ball game played only once a year, on Christmas afternoon.

  • Tom Smith invented Christmas Crackers around 1846. He was inspired by the French habit of wrapping sugared almonds in twists of paper as gifts.

  • Fruitcake originated in ancient Egypt, where it was considered essential for the afterlife.

  • In Ghana many people observe a traditional folk libation ritual at Christmastime. In it, people drink from a cup and then pour some of its contents on the ground as a symbolic offering to their ancestors.

  • The Christmas tradition of hanging stockings allegedly began with three poor sisters who couldn’t afford a marriage dowry.The wealthy Bishop Saint Nicholas of Smyrna (modern-day Turkey) saved them from a life of prostitution by sneaking down their chimney and filling their stockings with gold coins

  • The tradition of tinsel, which was invented in Germany in 1610, is based on a legend about spiders whose web turned into silver when they were spun in a Christmas tree.

  • In Greek culture, kissing under the mistletoe was considered an unspoken promise to marry your mate.

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