All around the world, people celebrate the Christmas season in different ways. Connect with pen pals from all over the globe and ask your pen pal if they celebrate any of these unique Christmas traditions.


Iceland

people exchange books as gifts on Christmas Eve. The rest of the night is spent reading books and eating chocolate. This tradition is called Jolabokaflod, which means "The Christmas Book Flood." Because of this, Iceland publishes more books per capita than any other country, and most are sold between September to November.

Philippines

the Giant Lantern Festival is held in San Fernando on the Saturday before Christmas Eve. A competition is held with eleven villages competing to build the most elaborate lantern, up to six meters in size.

Japan

Christmas in Japan isn’t an extravagant affair, but an odd family tradition has emerged. Traditional Christmas dinner in Japan involves eleven herbs and spices - families bring home KFC as their Christmas feast.

Canada

In Canada, a popular holiday tradition is a cookie baking swap. People bake a batch of cookies, then swap some of the cookies with everyone else at the party. Everyone leaves with lots of different kinds of cookies to enjoy during the holiday.

Australia

The Christmas meal in Australia is typically a barbecue on the beach at lunchtime, with prawns and lobster being served. When Santa visits Australia, he uses six white boomers to pull his sleigh and changes into cooler clothes for the warm weather.

Germany

When St. Nicholas travels through Germany, he leaves coins, chocolate, toys, and oranges in the shoes of good children. Knecht Ruprecht often travels with St. Nicholas, clad in dark clothes with bells, and carrying a stick or whip to punish children who have been naughty.

Mexico

On December 23 in Oaxaca, it is the “Night of the Radishes.” A competition is held where nativity scenes are carved out of long radishes and put on display at the Christmas Market.

Brazil

Children in Brazil leave a sock by the window for Papai Noel or Bom Velhinho. He travels by helicopter, enters through the front door, and exchanges this sock for a gift. Gifts are also given out through December by secret admirers, whose identities are revealed on December 25.

Italy

In Italy, a kind witch called La Befana flies through the air on a broomstick on January 5. She brings gifts to good children and delivers coal to naughty children.

Solstice

There is no specific location where Yule is celebrated so your pen pal might participate in this holiday tradition. On the winter solstice, December 21, families celebrate the longest night of the year and the return of the sun in the morning.

Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa is a celebration that lasts from December 26 to January 1, ending with a feast and gift exchange.

Hanukkah

Hanukkah lasts eight days, with families lighting one candle each day and reciting a blessing until every candle on the nine-branched menorah is lit.


Unique Christmas traditions can be found all over the world. Make new friends from other countries and ask them what interesting holidays they celebrate!