Christmas Across the Globe: 4 Christmas Traditions From Around The World
Whether it’s just down the road or across oceans to visit distant relatives, many people will travel over the Christmas season this year. You might even find yourself going to a place where the Christmas traditions are very different from your own. Here we’ve put together a list of Christmas rituals that you might not have come across before.
Canary Isles — Christmas processions and Papa Noel
Ever thought about spending Christmas on the beach in Tenerife or Gran Canaria? Many of us used to a chilly winter in northern Europe would be more than happy to swap grey skies for golden beaches. In Tenerife the main Christmas meal is held on Christmas Eve. After the meal, the residents on the island usually attend midnight mass. Many local bars and restaurants will close early on this family oriented evening, so if you plan to go out make sure to have something back at your accommodation for later!
Gran Canaria and Tenerife have a second celebration called the Dia de Los Reyes – Day of the Kings – on the 6th of January. Processions take place on the eve of this date (January 5th) and the local children are given sweets and toys by islanders dressed up as the three wise men. These parades are a spectacle for visitors, with the biggest taking place in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and Santa Cruz de Tenerife.
Mainland Spain — gold, frankincense and myrhh
The three wise men are an important part of Spanish Christmas celebrations on the mainland too. Spanish people exchange most of their gifts on 6 January — this is to echo the moment when the three wise men came bearing gifts for the baby Jesus, 12 days after Christmas. This festival of giving is called Epiphany.
Spanish families eat their Christmas meal on Christmas Eve. Seafood is one of the most popular parts of many of these meals in Spanish households. Once everyone has been wined and dined a midnight service takes place and then people walk through the streets of their town or city carrying torches and playing music.
Christmas in Greece and Crete
In Greece and Crete, Christmas Day falls on 25 December, but the children will normally receive their presents on New Year’s Day. That doesn’t stop anyone celebrating in the meantime, though! On Christmas Eve, the people really find their singing voices. The children will go from door to door with triangles and clay drums and sing one of three special Christmas carols. The song blesses the house and the owner rewards them with coins, sweets or dried fruits.
On Christmas Day, families will sit down to lamb cooked with egg and lemon sauce, or turkey without the trimmings. There will also be sweet loafs and biscuits on the Christmas meal table. Christmas Day is also the Names Day of Christos, Chrystina and Chrysoula, so you’ll come across people with these names celebrating on Christmas Day evening.
Wherever you’re spending Christmas this year, Falcon wishes you a lovely festive season. If you’re thinking of heading abroad this Christmas, why not check out our different destinations and see where this Christmas could take you?
Images by Thomson and Rob Bertholf under Creative Commons License.