1. Though Christmas is not popular in China—Christians comprise only about 1% of the country’s total population—people there have been practicing this tradition of giving out apples during Christmas Eve or, in Chinese, Ping An Ye, which bears resemblance to the Chinese word for apple, Ping Gou.
2. Canadians love to make cookies during Christmas, that’s for sure! Each family has its own recipe to showcase, and once the cookies have been done to perfection and are ready to be devoured, participating families will swap the baked goodies with one another. Imagine the barrage of delicious cookies in a Canadian Christmas party!
3. During yuletide season, Greek people have this tradition of displaying a wooden bowl in lieu of a Christmas tree, and from which hangs a cross that is dipped into the holy water every single day. The holy water is also sprinkled all throughout the house to shoo away Killantzaroi or evil spirits.
4. People in Costa Rica busy themselves building Pasito (Portal in English), a mini version of the nativity scene, which all members of every household help to build. They would decorate it with wreaths made out of cypress branches, coffee berries, some ribbons, and many other ornaments.
5. It is safe to say Christmas in South Africa is quite hot—literally—as they celebrate it, believe it or not, during the summer! The country is located in the earth’s Southern Hemisphere, that’s why. Families usually go swimming or camping, and share scrumptious cuisines such as duck, turkey, suckling pig, or roast beef served with vegetables. The finale meal would be the traditional dessert called Malva, a spongy pudding onto which a cream is poured while it’s still hot. Yummy!
6. During Christmas Eve, people in Ireland put a thick and tall candle right at the house’s largest window and set it alight all night to welcome the arrival of Mary and Joseph. They also offer mince pies and—guess what—a bottle of Guinness for Santa Claus.
7. Filipinos are known for their Parol, a star-shaped Christmas lantern that is traditionally made out of bamboo and paper which comes in varying sizes and styles—from small to huge, from lightless to blindingly bright, from single-colored to kaleidoscope-like—and are usually hanged outside houses or anywhere people feel like putting it. Also, Christmas in the Philippines officially commences on September 1st, which is the start of “Ber” months.
8. Egyptians have been practicing a tradition called Holy Nativity Fast, which takes place the whole 43 days before Christmas. During which time, they’re on a strictly vegan diet, which means nothing that comes from animals can be eaten. They’re only able to binge eat after attending a Christmas Eve mass that starts at around 10:30 PM and which lasts up to 4:00 AM the next day.
9. Throughout the Christmas season, Mexican children participate in a series of nine processions collectively called Las Posadas, wherein they would walk with candles in their hands and stop by houses only to be told there is no extra room for them, which symbolizes the time when Mary and Joseph were looking for a place to stay. The last procession takes place during the Christmas Eve—after arriving at the final home, they would be welcomed with open arms and be treated to a feast, but not after saying prayers of thanksgiving.
10. Finland is known all throughout the world as the ultimate Christmas Land being the home of Santa Claus, but did you know that it is also where another Christmas character resides? Joulupukki or the Christmas Goat was allegedly a scary goat-man who would ask for gifts but would give nothing in return. In the end, however, he had a change of heart and started giving out gifts himself, an act of generosity which was later carried on by Santa Claus.
11. French folks would light candles and burn cherry wood yule logs sprinkled with red wine, creating some gorgeous aroma. These logs and candles will be left burning all throughout the night, plus spare food and drinks in case Mary and Joseph decide to stop by.