For many, Christmas is a “much looked forward to” and special time of the year. Families and friends come together to celebrate old and new traditions and create lifetime memories. From gathering around a bright warm fire to decorating the tree, there are all sorts of ways to create an atmosphere of holiday spirit in our homes.
In this article, we’ll explore some traditional Christmas customs from around the world and get ideas of how to make this festive season even more magical for everyone involved.
Let’s get started – it’s time for some Christmas cheer!
Traditional Christmas Customs
One of the most important aspects of holiday celebrations is spending quality time with family and friends. Whether it’s gathering around a table for a special dinner, or simply enjoying an evening of board games or holiday movies, having everyone together creates a unique atmosphere that can’t be replicated during any other part of the year because we either don’t live near each other or we’re all so busy.
To make these gatherings even more memorable, let’s check out a few Christmas traditions from around the world. Learning how other nations celebrate Christmas may spark an idea of something you’d like to incorporate into your own celebrations.
Christmas Traditions Around The World
In many Mediterranean countries, it’s traditional for families to light a bonfire on Christmas Eve as part of the celebration. Meanwhile, in Germany, one popular custom involves decorating a Christmas tree with small gifts for each family member.
In some parts of Europe, a traditional yule log is still burned during the winter solstice to ward off evil spirits and bring good luck.
While in the Czech Republic, families will often gather around a fire as they sing carols and enjoy a special dinner. Afterward, they share gifts with each other and enjoy festive treats like gingerbread or candied fruit.
Christmas Eve brings other traditions too. Coming from a Danish upbringing, I remember being allowed to open one present on Christmas Eve, even before Santa’s arrival. And I also remember a family friend who explained that in Poland, Christmas trees weren’t to be decorated until Christmas Eve – not before like we do here in the states.
Christmas Traditions in the United States
As you already know, here one of the most iconic Christmas traditions is decorating the tree. Depending on the family, ornaments can range from homemade creations to the traditional classic round balls of all colors and materials. Many families also create or purchase special ornaments that represent events and milestones from throughout that year.
There are other Christmas activities too. Like the Advent or Christmas countdown calendar where each day you open a door to a new image or open another little drawer to a treat or small toy. These holiday add-ons can be a great way to spread out the celebration and get everyone in the holiday spirit.
Of course, there are also traditions that help us celebrate our past, our ancestors and the holiday spirit. In fact, I’ve done a few holiday podcasts before on this exact topic. I particularly want to point you to Episode 246 (link below) because if it’s vast review of interesting traditions. You can enjoy them here:
- Ep. 142 – The Best Holiday Gift of All
- Ep. 194 – ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas When All Through the Store …
- Ep. 246 – Do You Know the Origin of Our Christmas Traditions? Some Will Surprise You!
Creating a Festive Atmosphere at Home
It seems clear that no matter where you are, most Christmas traditions revolve around family and friends coming together. This is one of the reasons I love the season so much. Regardless of your level of religious involvement, Christmas has something for everyone.
But whichever traditions you choose to follow, there are several ways to make sure your house is filled with holiday spirit this season.
Decorations are always a must. In addition to the Christmas tree, you might choose to hang up festive lights, or arrange snowflake-shaped cutouts on the windows.
It’s fun each year to see the popular colors. Of course red and green are traditional but I also enjoy themed colors like black and silver or bright pink and lime green. Now I’m wondering what it will be for this year!
You can also fill the house with the comforting scent of cinnamon and pine. You’ll be amazed at how quickly these fragrances can create an atmosphere that is perfect for holiday gatherings. For quick aroma in your kitchen, boil a big pot of water filled with orange slices, cinnamon sticks and cloves and let it simmer all day – gets me in the spirit every time.
Finally, no festive gathering would be complete without music! Put together a playlist of classic Christmas songs, or create a special one featuring some of your family’s favorite tunes.
These simple touches will help ensure that the holiday spirit is alive and well throughout your home this season.
Meaningful Activities for the Holidays
Remember that Christmas is about having fun and acknowledging and honoring the symbolism you personally attach to it. And it’s also about creating meaningful memories that will last a lifetime.
To bring more light-hearted moments to your family gatherings and ones that can include the little ones, why not try some of these activities?
- Have everyone write down the best moments from the year, then share them in a fun discussion.
- Set up a “Secret Santa” game, where each family member draws another family member’s name and then has to buy them something special.
- Start a holiday craft project, such as making decorations or Christmas cards for friends and family.
- Create a festive scavenger hunt with clues hidden throughout the house. The winner gets to choose what the family does next!
Celebrating The Holiday Spirit
The Christmas season is a time for giving and celebrating with loved ones – some we see regularly and some only during the holidays. Creating joyful moments and honoring our traditions is a way to reconnect and reinforce the important connections in our life. It’s a great jumpstart into the new year too.