Every nation celebrates Christmas differently, which may seem obvious. What isn’t so obvious is how these differences affect the whole holiday. Every nation seems to have its own Santa Claus, traditions and meals. Here are some of the major differences.
Nearly every version of Santa Claus features a man who is jolly, has a white beard and delivers toys. In the Scandinavian version, he is a protective gnome who delivers gifts. In Russia, he wears blue and typically delivers toys on New Year’s Eve rather than Christmas Eve. The Dutch version of Santa Claus has an assistant named Zwarte Pieten.
In Venezuela, the roads will be closed for a week before Christmas so that everyone can skate to church.
The Caganer is a unique figure that is added to the nativity scene in Spain. He is a man with his pants around his ankles and about to defecate. This is supposed to symbolize fertilizing the planet.
Christmas hasn’t been very popular in Japan until the 1990s, and they have one strange tradition that you wouldn’t expect. Everyone who celebrates Christmas in Japan will eat dinner at Kentucky Fried Chicken. This is because they underwent a massive marketing campaign that linked KFC and Christmas to America.
Aside from Japan’s odd Christmas meal, there is another country with an odd meal. Most nations feature ham, beef, lamb or poultry, but Polish people will eat fish for Christmas. Herring is the most common, but other fish are also eaten. Sweden’s meal is also somewhat different from the rest because most of the dishes consist of cold meat or meatballs.
The vast majority of nations have some sort of bread or pastry for dessert on Christmas. Italy bakes a sweet bread loaf, Hungary use a sweet yeast bread with a bittersweet filling and Sweden bakes gingerbread cookies. People in Portugal will make a sweet French toast for their dessert.
The Spanish traditional Christmas dessert isn’t a type of pastry. These people typically make nougat from honey and egg whites. Traditionally, it tends to have roasted almonds as well, but some people make it without the nuts.