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Christmas Traditions from Around the World

Already fed up with Christmas? Tough. For the next five minutes, you’re going to sit there and learn a little more about the delightful Christmas traditions from around the world.

Here in the UK, it seems like we’ve gone completely Christmas crazy this year, or maybe that’s just me? But with just a few sleeps left until the big day, we thought what better way to spread some Christmas cheer than with a look at some of the lovely ways our friends overseas celebrate this time of year.


The rotund, bearded and overwhelmingly red Santa Claus we have today is believed by many to be the creation of a German cartoonist called Thomas Nast, who lived in America in 1862 at the time of the Civil War.

Nast combined many of his own native traditions of Saint Nicholas, a 3rd-century Greek bishop famed for his giving of unexpected gifts, with other German folk traditions including elves, to create the jolly old soul we know and love today. The name Santa Claus also became more familiar to American ears than the German Sankt Niklaus or Dutch Sinterklaas.

Thomas Nast's Santa Claus

Image courtesy of fineartamerica.com


In the Far East, the Christian children of China celebrate Christmas by decorating their trees with colourful flowers, chains and lanterns made from paper. Much like here in the UK, they also hang Muslin stockings in the hope that they’ve been good enough for Santa Claus, who they call Dun Che Lao Ren, translated as ‘Christmas Old Man’, to leave a few treats.

Chinese Christmas decorations

Image courtesy of chineseamericanfamily.com


In the traditional Russian Christmas, special prayers are said and people fast for as many as 39 days until Christmas Eve, which is on 6 January, when the first evening star appears in the sky. These traditional religious celebrations are slowly being replaced by the less austere Festival of Winter, the highlight of which is a Christmas feast shared with all the family.

Russian Christmas

Image courtesy of humideas.com

South Korea

Christmas in Korea is an altogether more romantic affair. Christmas Eve is the time when gifts are exchanged, but instead of piles of presents, it is customary for just one present to be given. Grandpa Santa is just as popular as Santa Claus in the UK, but as well as the traditional red suit, he can also be seen in a rather fetching blue. Christmas Day is considered to be a romantic day for couples, with restaurants fully booked months in advance. For non-Christian Koreans, Christmas Day is a favourite time to hit the shops.

Blue Santa

Image courtesy of adweek.com

And there you have it, one holiday and four different ways to celebrate it. All that’s left is to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy, Peaceful and Prosperous New Year from all the team here at Linguistica International!

We’ll be having a short break over the Christmas period but will be back to provide our leading range of translation, transcreation, telephone interpreting and copywriting services in the New Year.