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Christmas Traditions in the World

Christmas Celebrations in the Birthplaces of Traditions
- Bethlehem, Germany, and England

Many of today's Christmas traditions come from different parts of the world. These traditions are a culmination of centuries long both religious and secular traditions. It is therefore interesting to look at some of the general ways in which Christmas is celebrated in different countries.


We'll look at some of the things that are unique in the way Christmas is celebrated in Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus, as well as Germany and England's Christmas celebratory customs.

Christmas in Bethlehem

To begin with, it's only natural and symbolic to look at Christmas traditions and celebrations in the town of Bethlehem, which is believed to be the birthplace of Jesus. The Church of the Nativity is located in Bethlehem. At Christmas it is decorated with a lot of flags and other Christmas decorations.

A display based on Christmas in Betlehem
Believed to be the birthplace of Jesus, the town of Betlehem is home
to the Church of the Nativity, where special Christmas parade is held.

A very large crowd usually gathers at The Church of the Nativity on Christmas Eve to see a dramatic parade procession of horsemen, led by police who are mounted on Arabian horses. Following the police in the procession is a lone horseman who carries a cross. He is followed by churchmen and government officials.

Members of the procession solemnly enter the doors of The Church of the Nativity and place an ancient effigy of Jesus in the church. A silver star located deep in an underground cave-like section of the church marks the site where Jesus was born. A star is also set atop a pole in the town's square.

In Bethlehem, homes of Christians usually have a cross over the door and a manger scene is usually set up inside the house.

Christmas in Germany

In Germany, home of the Christmas tree tradition, the Christmas tree is not seen until Christmas Eve. The tree is usually kept in a special room, or elsewhere, and decorated in secret with lights, ornaments, tinsels, angels, candies, nuts and cookies. It is then lighted, the presents placed underneath and then shown to the delight of Children on Christmas Eve.

Christmas in Winter scene
In German tradition, Christmas tree is not decorated until Christmas Eve,
when it is put up, lighted, and the present placed under it.

In Germany, Dec. 6 is known as St. Nicholas Day when Santa visits the homes of boys and girls. On the day before, Dec. 5, children leave a shoe or boot outside or by the fireplace for Santa Claus. If they were good, he places gifts and candies inside the shoe. But if they were naughty, children will find twigs or a rod in their shoe.

Dinner on Christmas Day includes roast goose, long loaves of bread filled with raisins, nuts and dried fruits. Other sweet delicacies are also enjoyed.

Christmas in England

Many traditions in England are similar to those in the United States because such traditions originated in England and were brought to the United States by immigrants.

Roasted Christmas turkey
Roast turkey with stuffing and vegetables forms part of the traditional
Christmas Dinner in England, as is in the USA.

For example, the tradition of sending Christmas greeting cards started in England and is still popular at Christmas. The tradition of singing Christmas carols in neighbourhood on Christmas Eve also originates from England.

Children in England also hang stockings on Christmas Eve in anticipation of Santa Claus filling them with Christmas gifts or treats. The holly, ivy and mistletoe are also used a lot in Christmas decorations.

The traditional Christmas Dinner in England is roast turkey, goose or chicken with stuffing, vegetables and roast potatoes. Dessert consists of the British or Christmas pudding with brandy sauce. A rich, fruit-filled Christmas cake may also be enjoyed later in the day.

A tradition of pulling Christmas crackers also goes with the serving of food on Christmas Day. A cracker is a paper tube that contains a party hat, riddle, toy or trinket, and is brightly colored and twisted at both ends. It gives out a crack as the contents pop out when it is pulled at each end.

Another long standing English tradition is the Queen's Christmas message, which is broadcast on Christmas afternoon. The Queen broadcasts her Christmas message to the nation, which is heard on radio and television.

The day after Christmas is also a holiday that is known as Boxing Day. Read more about popular Christmas traditions in our article - Christmas Trivia.

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