Christmas is traditionally a religious celebration for the birth of Jesus Christ. Throughout the years, it has become a more secular holiday that is celebrated on a much more cultural level. It has become a season of giving and cheer, and is even celebrated throughout the month of December in some cultures. Here's a look at how other countries make their twist on Christmas!
Countries That Don't Celebrate
While the holiday seems to be one that is recognized throughout the world, it is only present in places that have had a major influence of Christianity in its history. Here's a look at some of the places that don't celebrate the birth of Christ.
- Morocco: As a Muslim country, Morocco does not officially recognize Christmas. However, their decadent lights around this time of year are on full display in the city of Marrakech as lanterns illuminate the sky to celebrate the muslim call to prayer, adhan.
- Thailand: Thailand's population is predominately Buddhist, and doesn't have any major observance of the birth of Christ. Instead, the small population of Christians in the capital city of Bangkok commemorate the birth of Christ, while the rest of the country may take a stroll on the beach, as temperatures are usually pretty warm during this time of year!
- Russia: Finally, there is Orthodox Russia. While not necessarily a religion that doesn't celebrate Christmas, the Orthodox church does not celebrate until January 7th thanks to its use of the 'Julian Calendar' instead of the 'Gregorian' one.
Countries That Celebrate
Even without the Christian world, there are countless sects and churches that have chosen different ways to pay homage to the birth of Jesus.
- Italy: Having been the center of the Roman Catholic church for nearly a century, Italy's capital city Rome has a rich history of religious tradition. One visual that has stood the test of time is that of the 'presepe', or nativity scene. Even in homes, these depictions of the birth of Christ are considered sacred. Babbo Natale, the italian Santa Clause, hands out gifts on January 6th, which is the Day of Epiphany.
- France: St. Nichol's Day, December 6th, marks the beginning of French celebration, where children are given small gifts and candies. The tradition of decorating pine trees started in the Alsace region in the 14th Century. Children place polished shoes on their porch with the hopes that 'Père Noël’ will fill them with gifts. Many residents decide to visit the magically illuminated world of the Jardin des Plantes in Paris.
- England: Families in England decorate their houses with festive lights as early as mid-November. If a passerby enjoys the show, they are encouraged to leave a small donation at the house that will then be used to give to charity. On December 26th, England celebrates Boxing Day.
- Portugal: As in Italy, the Portuguese treat the nativity scene, or presépio, as a shrine. Instead of Santa, children place their shoes out for Baby Jesus to deliver gifts. Lisbon, the largest city, lights a Christmas tree of over 1,000 lights in the city square.