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All kinds of Christmas from around the world

Published December 25th, 2015

Merry Christmas, Joyeux Noël, 聖誕節快樂 and Śubh krisamas!

Are you on your way to the beach, nanna’s house or off to feed the poor? Nursing a hangover, your favourite niece, a glass of eggnog or all three?

From its pagan origins to religious underpinnings or just for plain fun (*cough and commercial interests), we all have our own special way of celebrating Christmas.

For the 2-billion-plus people who celebrate Christmas across the world these celebrations differ well beyond the great turkey versus seafood BBQ lunch debates of Australian homes.

And further still from your red-nosed reindeers, mistletoes, annual Love Actually screenings and office Christmas party tales (or regrets!).

For example, did you know that in Estonia families hit the sauna together on Christmas Eve? True story.

Here’s a light-hearted look at the different kinds of Christmas from around the world.

1. Venezuela

Festive Greeting: Feliz Navidad
Tradition: In Venezuela’s capital of Caracas, early morning church services are reached by worshippers on roller skates. So many dedicated Venezuelans participate in this quirky tradition roads are blocked for safe passage beforehand!
Spend next Christmas in Venezuela: Navigating awe-inspiring jungle en route to the highest waterfall in the world, Angel Falls, or downing a few Polar beers in the urban jungle that is Caracas’ multi hall clubs and discos.

2. Italy Festive Greeting: Buon Natale

Tradition: Listen out for broomsticks not sleigh bells in Italy where St Nick gets a break when kind witch Glenda, um we mean La Befana, hands out presents instead.

Spend next Christmas in Italy: In pure luxury on a holiday tour of the quaint small towns nestled between the mountains and the sea of the Amalfi coastline.

#BuonAppetito from #Hotel @lesirenuse in #Positano Photo by: @timothysykes A photo posted by Italian_food (@italian_food) on

3. Ireland

Festive Greeting: Nollaig Shona Dhuit
Tradition: Forget milk for Santa, of course the man in red is up for a Guinness with his playful Irish friends by the time he hits the land of saints and scholars (and revellers).
Spend next Christmas in Ireland: Touring Dublin’s 12 Hipster Pubs of Christmas according to blogger Lovin Dublin.

This city at this time of year. Seriously via @exploringireland on #lovindublin #LDphotooftheyear

A photo posted by Lovin Dublin (@lovindublin) on

4. Japan Festive Greeting: メリークリスマス, pronounced Meri Kurisumasu or Meri Kuri for short

Tradition: Christmas is not a national holiday in Japan, but loads of people celebrate by treating themselves to some finger licking good KFC for dinner with family.

Spend next Christmas in Japan: Making new friends at one of the country’s 1,200 KFCs – or get the Colonel’s famous recipe delivered to your hotel room after a night touring Tokyo’s famous winter illuminations turns out like, um, a big night out in Tokyo.

Colonel Sanders approves and wishes you a Merry Christmas! #kfcjapan A photo posted by bklyngrl (@bklyngrl) on

5. Iceland

Festive Greeting: Gleðileg jól
Tradition: People in Iceland get new clothes before Chrissie. Otherwise they believe the mythical (we hope) Icelandic hill Yule Cat will devour them.
Spend next Christmas in Iceland: If you dare face the Yule Cat and the cold, head to Iceland where “cascading waterfalls turn golden in the dappled sunlight, iridescent blue pools bubble with warmth and glowing lights tumble across the starry night sky”.

6. Brazil Festive Greeting: Feliz Natal

Tradition: Papai Noel (from Greenland) comes dressed in silk to deliver presents in Brazil where folk dancing and singing continues until 6 January aka Three Kings Day.

Spend next Christmas in Brazil: In the Raucous town Porto Seguro where Carnaval complete with all the pleasure-seeking parties, live music aplenty and dancing in the streets you could dream of takes place from Christmas to 27 December.

#portoseguro ❤️☀️ A photo posted by Emanuele Perachi (@manuperachi) on

7. England

Festive Greeting: Merry Christmas.
Tradition: Bad kids get coal. Other than that we picture it’s exactly the same as Love Actually with OTT love confessions, heartache, Hugh Grant narrating at Heathrow Airport and childhood romances. Except for rural Wales where Mari Lwyd sees locals parade the streets with a mare’s skull.
Spend next Christmas in England: Touring the sites of Love Actually or ice skating in Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland before heading to one of your old uni mate’s famous expat ‘orphan’ parties.

Let's have some fun!!!! ✨ Winter Wonderland ❄️❄️❄️ #hydepark #london #winterwonderland

A photo posted by Hanna Krymer (@hanna.krymer) on

8. Kiribati Festive Greeting: Tekeraoi te Kiritimati

Tradition: Even if you’re not religious you would still head to Kiribati’s beachside halls and churches on Christmas day just to hear the spell-casting harmonies echoed by i-Kiribati. Here you’re sure to get more than one invite to big family botakis (parties with LOTS of food, fun and dancing).

Spend next Christmas in Kiribati: Enjoying one of the least visited countries in the world and making new friends with your island neighbours.

9. Austria

Festive Greeting: Frohe Weihnachten
Tradition: Naughty children get a visit from evil demon-esque Santa co-conspirator Krampus. Even if you don’t believe you must contend with all the men who dress as Krampus and scare kids in streets in the lead up to the big day!
Spend next Christmas in Austria: If you dare! Save plenty of time to explore the magical Christmas markets at the front of Vienna’s City hall or Innsbruck’s medieval square.

10. India Festive Greeting: Śubh krisamas (Hindi)

Tradition: Forget faux pines in India where people decorate mango trees and take leaves home to spruce up the home with some festive cheer.

Spend next Christmas in India: ‘Tis the season for giving and if next year you’d like to make a difference in India or somewhere else abroad why not volunteer abroad?

Jolee Wakefield

A seasoned backpacker and travel writer, Jolee has spent the past decade wandering the globe in pursuit of good vibes, unusual conversations and unforgettable adventures like cave diving in Mexico, mountain climbing in Borneo and learning (failing at) local dances in the Pacific nation of Kiribati.