Festive Traditions from Around the World

Christmas is a time of year that many people look forward to with great anticipation. Every country has its own traditions and customs, some more unusual than others.

In this article, we will explore some of the different festive traditions from around the world so you can get an insight into what it might be like to celebrate Christmas as part of a family in Kenya, Russia, or even South America.

In the UK we sing carols, kiss under the mistletoe, put up a fir tree, and burn a Yule log. Many of these traditions will be pre-Christian and stem from mid-winter festivals (and the end of the darkest time of year) but what do people do in hotter parts of the globe where there could be no mistletoe and the turkey is replaced with a BBQ?

Let’s start our journey first in South America. A big Christmas tradition in Chile is the consumption of roasted Guinea Pigs. This is because it’s the national dish which is eaten at Christmas, Easter, and other celebratory occasions like weddings.

In Kenya, families will prepare a special ‘ugali’ (a cornmeal porridge) called kuon that they can share together while singing traditional songs. A big family meal with many courses is eaten, with most families putting the extra effort to make their Christmas lunch a memorable one.

A popular Kenyan drink at this time of year is ‘miraa’, (made from the shrub of a tree) which has its origins in East Africa but now tends to be more associated with Kenya due largely to it being illegal elsewhere on the continent due to its psychoactive effects.

Moving back over to South America a big tradition at Christmas time in Brazil is the ‘Bom Velhinho’, which is the Brazilian version of Santa Clause. He’s sometimes called ‘Papai Noel’ and travels on a sleigh pulled by reindeer just like we’re used to seeing in the UK and North America.

Moving north to Mexico we come across another tradition that we’re familiar with but in a slightly different way. At Christmas time, Mexicans will often put up an image of the baby Jesus and decorate their homes to welcome him into their lives during this festive season.

Further north still in Alaska, the Inuit will spend Christmas night singing songs and dancing together. They usually do this in a family group, putting on traditional clothes to make their celebrations as authentic as possible.

In Russia, over recent years there has been an increase in demand for traditional Christmas trees and decorations. This is often due to the influence of Western Christmas traditions as people become more familiar with them as a result of TV and internet coverage.

A great Russian tradition at this time of year includes baking Pryaniki (gingerbread biscuits) which are then given out as gifts during the festive period.

Baking is actually a huge part of most festive traditions around the world, with each country having its own traditional bakes for this time of year. If you do fancy whipping up something a little out of the ordinary in the kitchen this Christmas and are thinking about dusting off your cake tins,

it could be worth checking out the guys over at Anges De Sucre. These London bakers create some stunning cakes which would be perfect for your Christmas dinner table (or any time of the year for the matter). 

*This is a collaborative post.

Simone Ribeiro
Hi! I'm Simone, a citizen of Britain, where I live for over a decade, and of Brazil, where I was born. Midlands Traveller is where I combine my passion for travelling, business and an Eco-friendly lifestyle.