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Christmas Eve Traditions Around the World

     Anticipating December 25th each year reaches its peak Christmas Eve. Sometimes it is a stressful night, with the frantic wrapping of gifts, baking of cookies, and putting together an outfit for mass the next day. Other people celebrate December 24th differently, with a fancy dinner and attending mass at midnight. Either way, many of these practices remain the same throughout the years, forming a tradition. Christmas Eve traditions vary around the world: Let’s take a closer look at some practices abroad:


In Iceland, children leave their shoes by the window and hope for the coming of the “Yule Lads.” If the children have been good, they’ll receive candy in their shoes, but if the children have been naughty they’ll find their shoes filled with rotten potatoes!


People in Denmark have a special Christmas Eve tradition that involves the Christmas tree. Danish families place their tree in the middle of the living room and dance around it while singing Christmas carols.

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Photo Courtesy of The Lakeside Collection


Swiss families create their own advent calendars for the month of December. Each day, they open a small gift or a sweet treat. On Christmas Eve, they open the biggest gift of the month.


Christmases in Japan are significantly different from those in America. Children receive presents on their pillows and the typical menu of the night is an American classic: fried chicken.


The Feast of the Seven Fishes is a popular tradition in the United States, but Italians go above and beyond with their Christmas Eve meal. They eat a meal entirely of pasta and seafood because Catholics practice abstaining from meat on Christmas Eve.


Every day after December 16th until Christmas Eve, children in Mexico go from door to door asking families if there is room at the inn, symbolic of Mary and Joseph’s experience. On Christmas Eve, the home they ask to go into welcomes the children and celebrates with them. 

     Overall, Christmas Eve traditions vary across the globe. It is easy to get lost in the different aspects of the holiday season, but it is important to remember that celebrating the birth of Jesus is our top priority.


Katherine Cottrell ‘21, Staff Writer


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