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How is Christmas celebrated around the world?

Tuesday 21 December 2021

Christmas Tree on Tenerife Island

While we may think of snow, roast turkeys and squabbling over the best chocolates in the tin as a typical Christmas, there are so many wonderful ways to enjoy the festive season. Across the globe, Christmas is celebrated in unique ways. Some countries and cities embrace tradition, while others have their own contemporary twist. In this article, we take a look at how the festivities are adapted in a few key locations.

Christmas in Germany

For some, Germany is the natural home of Christmas and the most festive country of all so it’s only right we start here. Just like in the UK, advent calendars are popular here and stockings are left out overnight. However, on the 6th of December, they also celebrate Saint Nicholas Day, where someone dressed as Saint Nicholas talks to the children to find out if they have been good or naughty throughout the year.

German Christmas markets are the original thing and, on a festive market cruise from the UK, you can enjoy some of the best in Hamburg. Pick up everything from fresh-baked biscuits, enjoy hot glühwein and buy amazing decorations to hang back at home.

Jolakotturrin the Christmas cat

Christmas in Iceland

Thanks to its beautiful natural landscapes, Iceland is a place that can instantly make you feel festive any time of the year, especially after fresh snowfall. And it’s certainly a country that loves Christmas! With festivities lasting for 26 days and the country having 13 different Santa Clauses (known as Yule lads), there is plenty to enjoy.

More in tune with Hannukah than Christmas, in Iceland, each Yule lad takes a night to visit children and leave gifts, starting 13 days before and ending on Christmas Eve. Each is named after a characteristic (somewhat like the seven dwarves), and there is a lot of lore about them and their family – Björk has even sung about Jolakotturrin, their cat!

Christmas in the Canary Islands

Unlike in Germany and Iceland, we think it’s fair to say that the chances of a white Christmas in our next destination is pretty impossible. The Canary Islands are a Spanish-owned archipelago located off the west coast of Africa and as such, enjoy Spanish culture and African heat. Despite the difference in climate, the Canary Islands are keen Christmas-lovers, and you’ll find festivities aplenty across the islands.

Although taking place under the blazing sun, the celebrations are much the same as in the UK. However, one great thing to experience are the three kings. On the 5th of January, in each of the main cities, a procession takes place showing the arrival of the three kings and their gifts - it’s a must-see.

READ MORE: 10 Canary Islands facts you didn’t know

Bergen Old Town at Christmas

Christmas in Norway

Norway is a beautiful country any time of the year and amazing to explore on a Norway cruise, but what’s it like at Christmas? Like in other countries, Christmas trees will pop up during the run-up to Christmas around Norway and there will be Christmas concerts and markets taking place in major towns and cities.

Something unique to the country is ‘Little Christmas Eve’. Not only are celebrations common on the 24th and 25th but the 23rd also plays a major role as Little Christmas Eve. Different families have different traditions for this night, which precedes the 24th, the day they have more traditional Christmas celebrations. Then, from the 25th to New Year it’s traditional to relax.

READ MORE: What to eat in the Norwegian Fjords

Christmas in Greece

With celebrations starting on the 24th and carrying on for 14 days into the new year, Christmas in Greece is no timid affair. A nation known for its love of festivities; Greece makes no exception for Christmas. One of the most traditional decorations you can see here are decorated boats. This is because, when Christmas trees were first being decorated in Europe they were only seen in upper-class households, however, many Greek households had boats they were able to decorate instead.

As well as that, Greeks extend their love of the culinary world to Christmas as well, with some wonderful seasonal dishes available. One such dish is Christopsomo, a bread dating back to the Ottoman era with a sun-like design or agricultural scenes moulded into it, usually eaten on Christmas Eve.

Although Christmas might be different everywhere in the world, one thing remains, it’s a time to celebrate and spend time with the people we love. So, whether it’s Greece you fancy or warmer climes in the Canary Islands, our cruises from London Tilbury can get you where you need to go in style.

For more tips, guides, and advice, make sure to visit our blog page.

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