Christmas Around the World

Christmas, Featured Article, Food and Travel, Holidays, International Food
on October 26, 2011
Mark Boughton/ styling: Teresa Blackburn

Joyeux Noel! God Jul! Merry Christmas! No matter how you say it, this holiday season, people around the world will be wishing one another good tidings and celebrating in their own special way. Here's a sampler of cherished traditions we love:

  • France: A grand family feast takes place on the eve of Noel and the traditional Buche de Noel (a delicious sponge cake rolled and iced to resemble a Yule log) is served. Once everyone is in bed, Pere Noel stuffs children’s shoes (rather than stockings) full with goodies.
  • Sweden: Holiday celebrations begin on December 13th with Saint Lucia Day. On that morning, the eldest daughter in the family will dress as Saint Lucia by donning a long white robe and wreath of candles. She will then serve traditional golden and delicious saffron buns to the family.
  • Australia: Forget snow! Since it’s summertime in Australia when Christmas rolls around, families grill out for their big feast and decorate homes with seasonal flowers from the bright and native Christmas bush.
  • China: Christians in China celebrate Sheng Den Jieh by decorating evergreens with paper lanterns, red paper chains and flowers symbolizing happiness.
  • Ethiopia: Observed in two parts on January 7th and 19th, Ganna and Timkat respectively represent Christ’s birth and baptism. Gift giving isn’t custom, but Ethiopians enjoy large feasts of traditional stews and attend a variety of religious services on both days.

—By Emily Arno