The world is full of different people and diverse countries. It is therefore, hardly any surprise that Christmas is celebrated differently in different parts of the world. From Vatican City to Norway,
- Christmas Traditions in Vatican City – St Peter's Square in Vatican City, is where the Pope conducts the midnight mass in Saint Peter's Basilica on Christmas Eve. Watched by people around the world, the mass is followed by the Pope's message on Christmas Day. Called "Urbi et Orbi" (to the city of Rome and to the World) his speech is a message of inspiration for Christians worldwide. St Peter's Square is decorated with a nativity scene and a giant Christmas Tree, and the crowd's atmosphere of joy and excitement has to be experienced to be believed.
- Christmas Traditions in Bethlehem – The birthplace of Jesus Christ is a special destination to mark this occasion. Prayer services are held at Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity which houses the grotto believed to be the birthplace of Christ. The service within the Church of the Nativity is broadcast to hundreds of worshippers who throng Bethlehem's Manger Square next to the church, at this time.
- Christmas Traditions in Russia – The Russian calender marks Christmas as the 7th of January each year and not 25th December. This is so because the Orthodox Church follows the Julian calender to mark religious days. Russians often fast for 39 days till 6th January, i.e., Christmas Eve and break their fast with the appearance of the first evening star in the sky.
- Christmas Traditions in Ireland – The Irish like to leave out mince pies and a bottle of Guiness as a snack for Santa's weary bones, as he makes his journey around the world delivering presents to chilren worldwide.
- Christmas Traditions in Czech Republic – Here women perform a strange Christmas ritual. Each year, single women stand with their backs to their houses and throw a shoe over their shoulder. If this shoe lands with its heel toward the house it means she will not get married in the year to come. If it however, lands with its front pointing toward the house, it is an indication that wedding bells are going to ring soon.
- Christmas Traditions in Sweden – A town called Gavle in Sweden has a long-standing Christmas tradition of building a large goat made entirely of straw. Each year, vandals attempt to destroy it before Christmas day. So far, it has survived these attempts only about 10 times.
- Christmas Traditions in Norway – Norwegians believe that on Christmas Eve, witches and evil spirits rise and look for brooms to ride in the skies. Hence, the people of Norway hide their brooms on the day before Christmas and men fire shotguns at the sky to frighten away the roaming witches.
- Christmas Traditions in Netherlands – the people of Netherlands celebrate Christmas on the 6th of December. They also wait for Sinterklaas and his sidekick Black Pete to come by on a steamer and leave goodies and gifts for young children.
- Christmas Traditions in Germany – Germany also celebrates Christmas on December 6th. Children here leave shoes and boots outside their homes, and in the morning these are full of candies and sweets, if they have been good or sometimes there is a golden birch twig along with the sweets if they have been naughty.
- Christmas Traditions in Slovakia – the tradition in Slovakia is for the head of the family to take a spoon of Loksa - a traditional dish made of bread, poppy-seed filling, and water and fling it at the ceiling. The more the Loksa gets glued to the roof, the richer his crops are supposed to be next year.
And a couple more, non-traditional, Christmas traditions to enliven your holidays:
- Christmas Traditions in Venezuela - In the capital city of Venezuela, Caracas, the roads are blocked for cars on Christmas Eve. Hence, people roller skate all the way to Mass.
- Christmas Traditions in Japan - In Japan, people celebrate Christmas by eating at KFC. In fact, this has become such a popular custom that now it is next to impossible to reserve a table at KFC at Christmas!
Choose from among these Christmas traditions to enliven your holiday season this year.