In the UK, Christmas is all about turkey (the bird, not the amazing beach destination), presents and spending time with our loved ones. However, Christmas celebrations around the world differ greatly so take a look at some of our favourites festivities…
Christmas in Italy is an extremely religious time and celebrations start eight days before Christmas Day, lasting until the Feast of Epiphany on January 6th. Musical salutes are made at the shrine of the Virgin Mary while songs are played at the homes of any carpenters in honour of Joseph (Jesus’ father).
Christmas presents in Italy are said to be delivered by a good witch who goes by the name of La Befana. She delivers presents via broomstick and not by sleigh (poor reindeers) and presents are usually opened on 6th January.
The Spanish Christmas season officially starts on December 8th, otherwise known as the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. The feast is celebrated every year in front of the Gothic Cathedral is Seville in a ceremony called Los Seises (dance of six).
Christmas Eve is known as Nochebuena (the good night) and is celebrated by family members who gather together to rejoice and feast around the Nativity scenes that take centre stage in many Spanish homes.
In Greece, St. Nicholas is known as the patron saint of sailors and according to tradition, his clothes are drenched with brine, his beard with water and his face with perspiration because he has been working hard against the waves to reach sinking ships.
It is also common for people in Greece to burn their old shoes for good luck in the following year.
The main Christmas celebration in Mexico is called Las Posadas where there are processions re-enacting Joseph and Mary’s search for a place to stay in Bethlehem. These processions begin nine days before Christmas as this is how long it took for Mary and Joseph to find somewhere.
Once everyone is gathered in the same place, a traditional prayer is spoken and the celebrations begin to get underway. Food and drink is served and children take turns trying to break open a pinata.
Father Christmas is believed to deliver his presents to children in Portugal on Christmas Eve rather than Christmas Day and are left under the Christmas tree or in shoes by the fireplace. Some people believe that it is in face baby Jesus who delivers the presents.
The Portuguese also enjoy a feast called Consoada in the early hours of the morning on Christmas Day and they even set extra places at the table for ‘the souls of the dead’ – (hopefully there are enough pigs in blankets to go round!)