Celebrations and Festivals

Christmas Eve traditions around the world

Urvashi Shah
3 to 7 years

Created by Urvashi Shah
Updated on Dec 24, 2017

Christmas Eve traditions around the world

It is the most wonderful time of the year where for a couple of weeks the winters get cozy, people seem merrier and there is so much of bling everywhere. It is finally Christmas time which also happens to be the most awaited time of the year, time to exchange gifts, sing Christmas carols and time to indulge in scrumptious cookies and other traditional savouries.

Everybody celebrating this festival of joy have their very own Christmas traditions to follow. But did you know that Christmas Eve is spent in a number of ways all over the world? Would like to surprise yourself by learning about them? I present to you a couple of countries who have their special ways to follow the Christmas Eve traditions.

Christmas Eve Traditions Around The World

  1. Giant Lantern Festival, Philippines: Also referred as the ‘City of Christmas capital’, this festival is celebrated on the Christmas Eve in San Fernando and is known to draw people from all over the world. Eleven villages take a part in this festival where the main aim is to built and boast the best lantern. This sounds competitive but also brings the locals together to indulge in some merry time.
  2. The Yule Lads, Iceland: Iceland is known to celebrate Christmas Eve 13 days prior leading up to the main festival. They have their very own twisted version of gifting children, not in a sock but in shoes. Yes, you read that right. The Yule Lads are said to dress up in versatile troll characters and roam the city for 13 consecutive nights, leading up to Christmas and children are known to place their best shoes on the window. The good girls and the good boys are presented with gifts in their shoes while the naughty ones are presented with potatoes. You can tell this story to your child which will motivate him to keep up with good behaviour, unless he really wants a potato in his sock for Christmas Eve tradition.
  3. Saint Nicholas’ Day, Germany: Saint Nicholas’ travels all over the town and ensures to gift small children wonderful presents but in exchange of a poem to be recited by them. What a great way to motivate little ones do their homework in turn of treats! He is also said to travel on a donkey in the middle of the night, on 6th December every year, leaving oranges, candies, coins and toys for children.
  4. Norway: Norway has a unique as well as an orthodox way of celebrating Christmas Eve tradition where people are known to hide their brooms in a safe corner of the house, where it is not to be found. This tradition is backed up with the idea of saving their broom sticks from witches and evil spirits who are said to come out looking for broom sticks to ride on
  5. Lighting of National Hanukkah Menorah, Washington, D.C.-US: Christmas and Hanukkah happen to fall at the same time, which is also the most celebrated festival in the entire United States. Since 1979, a huge 9 metre Menorah has been raised on the White House premises for the eight days and nights of Hanukkah. The ceremony in Washington, D.C. is marked with music, speeches, activities for kids, and the mesmerizing lighting of the Menorah
  6. Venezuela: Christmas Eve tradition takes a sporty turn in Venezuela where people prefer to visit Church early morning, every Christmas Eve. You must be thinking what is so special about this as everyone visits Church on this festive day. But, here’s the catch! People of Venezuela do so on their roller blades. For their safety reasons, the Government puts a ban on cars during that particular time. There is no logical back up for this tradition but once their religious visit is over, they head back home for a traditional Christmas meal
  7. Day of the little candles, Columbia: Marking the beginning of Christmas season, the day of the little candles in Columbia is celebrated in the honour of Virgin Mary and the Immaculate Conception where people place paper lanterns and candles on their windows, front yard and balconies
  8. Cavalcades of lights, Toronto: This tradition marks the beginning of the holiday season in Toronto. The Square and Christmas tree are illuminated by more than 300,000 energy efficient LED lights that shine from dusk until 11 pm until the New Year and fireworks can be witnessed as well

Christmas Eve Traditions You Can Start With Your Family

As the world marks Christmas Eve with various traditions, you too can start some of your own with your loved ones. If you have a little baby in the house and want some Christmas Eve ideas for toddlers, then use this opportunity to ensure your child has the best and a memorable first Christmas. Here are some of the Christmas traditions for babies.

  1. Do a holiday card: This idea can never get old as you get a chance to dress up in all red and green with your family, get pictures clicked and choose the best photography to post on a holiday card and send it out to your family and friends
  2. Christmas pyjamas: This is a cute tradition that you can follow where your entire family gets to gear up in a special yet cozy Christmas themed pyjamas. You can even deck up your little one in red Christmas themed jumpsuit and click pictures of him
  3. Stockings: This is one of the most clichéd yet exciting Christmas traditions for children where you can let your little ones hang stockings and once they are asleep, you can put gifts for each of them in their stockings. They will wake up with happiness written all over their face
  4. A visit to Santa: This is one of the Christmas traditions for toddlers that never get old. From little ones to adults, everyone loves Santa and this time you can take your munchkin to visit Santa and also teach about him
  5. Sing Christmas carols: If you have little ones in your house and your friends and relatives too have children, invite them over to your house for a little party. Just like other traditions, you can ask the children to sing Christmas carols or even teach them about it which will be included in some of the fun Christmas traditions for children to carry on for years coming by

How To Involve Your Child In Christmas Celebrations Preparations?

Since you are all busy gearing up for Christmas Eve, indulge your child in some Christmas Eve activity ideas listed below.

  1. Make cards: For little ones who are usually full of creativity, a Christmas Eve without making a Christmas card for their loved ones is incomplete. This is a Christmas Eve tradition that they like to follow all by themselves. Just give your child a piece of paper and all the colours and watch him binge on showcasing his artwork to you
  2. Angel tree: The list of Christmas activity ideas can be unending but this one is really unique. If you are planning on buying a Christmas tree and decorating it, allow your child to choose an angel tree for himself. This little tree can be gifted to him and allow him to decorate the same with all sorts of glitterati
  3. Christmas movie: Among all the Christmas Eve ideas for toddlers, this one is where you can indulge yourself too. You can binge watch all kinds of Christmas movies with your child all night long wearing your favourite Christmas pyjamas
  4. Gingerbread house: While it is always parents who put up and decorate the gingerbread house, let your child do the decoration part from this year as a part of his Christmas traditions for children. He will surely enjoy it and at the end get to boast his creativity in front of friends and family

If you are really excited and in anticipation of the best festival of the year then do make sure to follow these Christmas Eve traditions to make your festival etched on your mind with each passing year.

The best part about Christmas is that you can teach your child about the various ways in which Christmas Eve traditions around the world are celebrated and if you are lucky enough, you can even go and visit a place which follows exclusive traditions for Christmas, while one of them can be from the above given list.

We wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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