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• CEIP Saco e Arce - 2013/14 • Project: “Around the world with Efren” • Pictures: Philip Martin , James Chapman,

• Web pages: esl,,, vickiblackwell, Beth Gorden

Do you know how different countries celebrate Christmas? Do you want to know a bit better what people from different places all over the world do at Christmas, what they eat, their customs, traditions, special days ‌ ?

Christmas in Spain

In Spain Christmas Eve is called “Nochebuena·”. Nativity scenes, called “nacimientos” are set up in many houses and in public squares or churches. They represent the town of Bethlehem and there are a lot of different figures. Families gather together to share dinner and they sing “villancicos” ( Christmas carols. ) On Christmas Day, there’s a family meal. The menu consists of seafood, fish, lamb, chicken , duck or turkey. The traditional treats are “turron”, and “mazapan” a kind of almond candy.

On New Year’s Eve, there’s a tradition of eating 12 grapes at the twelve strikes of midnight., one grape with each strike of the clock bell. With each grape a wish is made for the new year. Some years ago, Santa Claus (Papa Noel) didn´t play into the Christmas festivities in Spain. Children only received gifts from the Three Kings on the 6th of January (Día de Reyes). The festivities begin on January 5th with a big parade to welcome the Three Kings to town. That night, children leave their shoes on the windowsills or under the Christmas tree . They also leave some straw or carrots for the camels and turron or mazapan for the Kings.

Christmas in France

Children leave their shoes by the fireplace to be filled with gifts from Pere Noel. In the morning they also find sweets, fruit, nuts and small toys hanging on the tree. Nearly every house displaces a “créche” or Nativity scene with little clay figures called “santons ” or "little saints.“ After midnight mass on Christmas Eve, they eat “Le reveillon” . The menu for the meal consists of goose , turkey with chestnuts , oysters and pate de foie gras, or poultry, ham, salads, cake, fruit and wine. Churches and cathedrals are decorated with lights and ring out Christmas carols with the church bells.

Christmas in Egypt

During the last week of Advent people are expected not to eat meat, poultry or dairy products. On Christmas Eve everyone goes to church wearing new clothes. The Christmas service ends at midnight with the ringing of church bells, then people go home to eat a special Christmas meal known as fata, which consists of bread, rice, garlic and boiled meat. On Christmas morning people in Egypt visit friends and neighbors. They take with them kaik , which is a type of shortbread to give to the people they visit and eat with a drink known as shortbat

Christmas in Germany

Children leave decorated letters on their windowsills for Christkind, a winged angel dressed in white robes and a golden Crown, who gives gifts.

They decorate the house with advent wreaths of Holly with four red candles in the center. They light one candle each Sunday and last on Christmas Eve. Children count the days until Christmas using an Advent calendar. They open one window each day and find a Christmas picture inside. Germans make beautiful gingerbread houses and cookies. Little dolls made of fruit are traditional Christmas toys. .

Christmas in Australia

Christmas in Australia is often very hot. Some Australians , and particularly tourists, often have their Christmas dinner at midday on a beach or at a picnic. At many beaches Santa Claus arrives on a surf board A traditional meal includes a turkey dinner, with ham, and pork and Christmas plum pudding for dessert. A small gift is baked inside. The person who finds this, knows s/he will have good luck. Another treat is Mince Pies. Carols by Candlelight is a tradition in which thousands of people gather together in the city of Melbourne on Christmas Eve to sing their favorite Christmas songs

Christmas in Brazil

The weather is usually warm. They celebrate Christmas with the family on Christmas Eve. “Papai Noel” comes and gives gifts to everybody at home. They decorate the house with Christmas' lights and Christmas trees . They listen to Christmas' songs or watch mass ( “Misa do Galo”) on t.v. on Christmas Eve.

They eat turkey, rice, vegetables, farofe ( a grain that is cooked with butter, salt, and meat) fruits, salad, panetone (bread with dried fruit) and chocotone (bread with pieces of chocolate inside). Presépios (nativity scenes) are set up in December and displayed in churches, homes, and shops. The festivities go on until January 6th, which the Brazilians call Three Kings Day , the day when three wise men visited Jesus to bring him gifts.

Christmas in China

Christians celebrate Christmas by decorating houses with beautiful paper lanterns and decorating Christmas trees, "Trees of Light," with paper chains, paper flowers, and paper lanterns. Santa Claus is called Dun Che Lao Ren which means "Christmas Old Man.". He delivers presents on the 25th. Non-Christian Chinese celebrate Chinese New Year at the end of January . They call the season Spring Festival and pay respects to their ancestors. Portraits and paintings of ancestors are brought out and hung in the main room of the home. It is a time when children receive presents: new clothing , new toys, and they enjoy firecracker displays.

Christmas in Japan

For many years the only people who celebrated Christmas were Christians , but nowadays most Japanese enjoy this celebration. People decorate their shops and homes with evergreens during Christmas. They enjoy giving each other gifts, and this is the part they celebrate. They have a Buddhist monk called Hotei-osho who acts like Santa Claus. He brings presents to each house and leaves them for the children. He is always pictured as a kind old man carrying a huge pack. He is thought to have eyes in the back of his head, so children try to behave well.

Christmas is not a day for the family. They do not have turkey or plum pudding. The day is spent doing nice things for others, especially those who are sick in hospitals.

Christmas in India

Christians in India decorate banana or mango trees. They also light small oil-burning lamps and fill their churches with poinsettia red flowers for the Christmas Midnight Mass They give presents to family members and baksheesh, or charity, to the poor people.

In South India, Christians put small clay lamps on the rooftops and walls of their houses at Christmas, just as the Hindus do during their festival called Diwali.

Christmas in the UK

In Britain Christmas celebrations start with the preparation of gifts, sending Christmas cards, decorating houses and churches ‌ On Christmas Eve children hang up their stockings on the ends of the beds or by the chimney so that Father Christmas can leave them something. On Christmas morning the family opens their presents that are under the tree, in stockings or in sacks and prepares for a big lunch. It’s Boxing Day . The traditional dinner is turkey and plum pudding. The meal begins with a toast and the popping of the crackers. After the meal they sit down in front of the Television for the Christmas speech of the Queen. The tree is decorated with tinsel, lights, ribbons and baubles. The home is usually decorated with statues of Father Christmas, holly wreaths, mistletoe, and lights at the windows. Children leave a mince pie and some milk for Father Christmas (and a carrot for Rudolph) on Christmas Eve.

Christmas in the USA

In the USA the traditional Christmas dinner is roast turkey with vegetables and sauces. For dessert it is rich, fruity Christmas pudding with brandy sauce. Mince pies are pastry cases filled with a mixture of chopped dried fruit. The homes are decorated with holly, mistletoe and a Christmas tree decorated with electric lights, tinsel, baubles, and strings of popcorn and candy canes. In Washington D.C., a huge, spectacular tree with Christmas ornaments is lit ceremoniously when the President presses a button and turns on the tree lights.

International names for SANTA

Christmas around world  
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