Christmas Traditions From Around the World

Christmas is a time for giving and sharing, so let's explore some of the most wonderful Christmas traditions from around the world. From a celebration with giant lanterns in the Philippines to a giant German cake, learn about how different cultures celebrate this special holiday!


You may already be familiar with Germany's famous Christmas markets, but have you heard of Stollenfest? Every year in the German town of Dresden, a curious festival called Stollenfest kicks off the Christmas season in early December. During Stollenfest, the locals create a supersized version of their traditional cake, Christstollen. The giant cake is paraded around the town in a custom trolley followed by the town's bakers, a marching band, locals dressed in costumes, and a designated "Stollen Maiden". When the parade is finished, the giant cake is cut with a 5-foot knife and served to festival attendees.

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Ganna is the Ethiopian version of Christmas which focuses on community and religion rather than the traditional gift-giving seen in other cultures. Christmas Eve is observed on January 6th when people will stay outdoors praying all night. The next day, it’s tradition to receive a candle upon arriving at the church service and everyone walks around the church three times before the service begins. After church, you'll find the locals dressed in white and celebrating with dancing, games and feasts.


In Turkey, children leave their shoes by the window and place carrots for St. Nick's horse in them alongside a note with what they want for Christmas. On the night of December 23rd, like many other countries around the world, St. Nick and his elf helpers travel on horseback delivering the gifts to the children's shoes. On the next morning, the children go out early to collect their shoes which are now filled with gifts.


La Befana is "the Christmas witch" who delivers gifts to children in Italy on January 6th. La Befana is part of a centuries-old tradition that has been passed down through generations. On this day, La Befana delivers either candy and gifts or coal to children's stockings depending on if they've been good or bad. La Befana is also celebrated during local festivals where all children can attend to get their "coal", which is colored rock candy, as it is assumed that all children have been a little naughty during the year.

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The Philippines

The Giant Lantern Festival takes place in mid-December in the city of San Fernando to kick off Christmas celebrations in the Philippines. This festival is known for being one of the brightest and most colorful Christmas events in the world thanks to the yearly competition of giant parol lanterns! Parol star lanterns are a symbol of Christmas in the Philippines and can be seen hanging outside of homes representing the star of Bethlehem that led the Three Wise Men to baby Jesus.


Las Posadas is a nine-day celebration that begins on December 16th and marks the journey of Mary and Joseph as they traveled to Bethlehem. During this time, two people designated as "Mary" and "Joseph" are welcomed into a different house (in Spanish, posada means "inn") each night to celebrate with the hosts and neighbors by singing songs, breaking open pinatas, feasting, and praying together.

Christmas is a time of year that brings people together, no matter our differences in culture and traditions. We hope these unique holidays from around the world will encourage you to travel and experience the most magical time of year in a whole new way! 

If you’re inspired to experience any of these traditions first-hand, we invite you to schedule your complimentary call with us today! We are here to help you plan the stress-free vacation of your dreams as you experience your journey with the confidence and protection of traveling with a trusted Travel Specialist.


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