A traditional Australian Christmas is all about ‘chucking a shrimp on the barbie’ and lazing around the pool or at the beach with your family and friends. We’ve become so accustom to our own ‘traditions’ that we forget that others around the world celebrate Christmas completely differently. These are some of the interesting ways other countries celebrate Christmas:



On Christmas day, the Japanese often eat fried chicken, so much so that it is the busiest time of the year for KFC. People have to place orders at their local KFC in advance. The Japanese have also ditched the traditional fruitcake and usually eat sponge cake decorated with strawberries and whipped cream. Yum!



In Holland, Santa Claus doesn’t live in the North Pole but in sunny Spain and arrives by steamboat accompanied by his helper called ‘Black Peter’.



It’s a tradition for Serbian children to tie up their parents on the Sunday before Christmas. The parents then have to pay a ransom in the form of gifts to be freed. Don’t tell your kids about this one!



In the Philippines, Christmas is celebrated for as long as possible. The four months of the year that end with “ber” are considered to be Christmas months. Instead of stockings, Filipino children leave their polished shoes and freshly washed socks on the windowsills so the Three Kings will leave gifts.



Ukrainians like to decorate their Christmas trees with spider webs as legend says that a magic spider once visited a family at Christmas and turned the webs in their home into silver and gold.



In India, fir trees aren’t very common so mango trees are decorated instead. Mango leaves are used to brighten up the home.



A Christmas tradition in Finland is for families to visit the graves of their ancestors on Christmas Eve and to light candles in memory of the deceased. Even those who don’t have their family’s graves nearby visit cemeteries to place candles in honour of their family. Also on Christmas Eve, Finnish people have a sauna as they believe the sauna ‘elf’ lives in there to protect it and make sure people behave. However, after sunset, the place is for the spirits of dead ancestors.



On January 6, a good witch called La Befana brings children their presents on a broomstick rather than a sleigh. But if you’ve been naughty, expect lumps of coal!



The folk in the Artic Circle tuck into some interesting dishes during the festive season. They like to feast on mattak (which is raw whale skin) and kiviak (which is decomposed bird that has been wrapped in sealskin and then buried under a rock for several month). Delish…


Words // Amanda Jacobson




haven is all about family, life and style in Brisbane's inner city suburbs, the Gold Coast, south to Byron Bay. We have been keeping parents in the know for over eight years, with fun, fresh and helpful stories that they can take tips from or treasure in their own library.