A blog by Dr Lin Day

Merry Christmas from Around the World

We wish you a Merry Christmas,
We wish you a Merry Christmas,
We wish you a Merry Christmas,
And a Happy New Year.



Christmas is celebrated in many countries, although each one has its own traditions that have passed from generation to generation or have just evolved naturally over the festive season. For many cultures, Christmas is a religious festival that celebrates the birth of Jesus.

Traditions such as the Christmas tree, decorations and lights, the sending of cards, a special meal with family and friends, and the giving and receiving of gifts are common to most cultures.


In the UK and USA, the Christmas season starts in early November, when the lights are switched on in the major cities. In anticipation of Christmas, children may open the 24 doors of the advent calendar; one for each day of December leading up to Christmas Eve.

As Christmas approaches, children may post letters to Santa Claus (also known as Father Christmas) and participate in a Nativity play. They may see Santa at a preschool party or look forward to his arrival on Christmas Eve, when their stockings will be filled with gifts while they sleep.

Other traditions include the exchange of presents and a Christmas Day meal that may consist of turkey, Christmas pudding and mince pies. During the meal, crackers may be pulled, jokes told and paper hats worn. Party games and television are traditional activities, followed by evening tea, which may include Christmas cake and other treats for the whole family.

Australia, New Zealand

In the Southern hemisphere, Christmas occurs during the height of the summer. Snow-covered cards, decorations, Christmas trees, mince pies, Christmas pudding and crackers are a traditional part of the celebrations. Santa arrives on Christmas Eve in much the same way as the UK.


Preparations may begin in November when decorations appear in the shops. After the meal on Christmas Eve, the family may sing and dance around the Christmas tree, followed by present giving. Santa (‘The Yule Man’) is said to arrive on a reindeer-driven sleigh with presents for the children.


Christmas is a religious festival for many families, who decorate their homes with Nativity scenes and attend Midnight Mass. Father Christmas (Père Noël) may bring gifts and sweets for the children on December 6th, the feast day of Saint Nicholas. The children place their shoes by the hearth to find them filled with gifts on Christmas Day.


On 6th December, Saint Nicholas may visit preschools (kindergartens) and schools. On Christmas Eve, Saint Nicholas or a sprite-like child (known as ‘Christkindl’), places the children’s presents under the tree. Carols may be sung around the tree before the presents are opened.



Nativity plays are staged in many schools, followed by the appearance of Father Christmas (‘Christmas Baba' in Hindi), who may distribute presents from a horse and cart. Days before babda din (the big day), the shops and markets will be decorated with Christmas trees, images of Santa Claus and colourful balloons.



Christmas is celebrated in much the same way as other Western European countries, but with a strong emphasis on religion. Gifts may be placed under the Christmas tree, either by Santa or Baby Jesus, to be opened on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.



Although 25th December is not a religious holiday, the occasion is celebrated with parties, Christmas trees and Christmas cake. On Christmas Eve, presents are left on the children’s pillows and adults exchange gifts.

Mainland China

In mainland China, 25 December is not an official holiday, although it may be privately celebrated with presents, cards and stockings. During the month of December, Christmas trees and other Western practices are found in many homes.




In Poland, children participate in Nativity plays and religious services. On Christmas Day, everyone exchanges a wafer of religious significance before eating traditional foods such as beetroot soup (borscht), carp and fruit. The children give out the presents and they may dress up as characters from the Nativity and go carol singing.



Christmas Day is a religious event celebrated on 7th January. In the home, there may be a Christmas tree and presents for the children from ‘Grandfather Frost’, who represents Peter the Great, and his granddaughter the ‘Snow Maiden’.

South America

Religion dominates the Christmas period, with particular emphasis placed on the Nativity and the family, although Western traditions have also been adopted in some countries. Christmas Eve is an important time for the religious element of Christmas and children may stay up until midnight to open their presents. In Venezuela, the Wise Men (known as the ‘Magi’) leave gifts by the children’s beds.


‘Merry Christmas’ from around the world!

China (Cantonese): Seng Dan Fai Lok; (Mandarin): shèng dàn kuài lè

Denmark: Glædelig Jul

France: Joyeux Noel
Germany: Fröhliche Weihnachten
India (Hindi): Bade Din ki Mubarak

Italy: Buon Natale
Japan: Merri Kurisumasu
Poland: Boże Narodzenie

Russia: Novym Godom

Wherever you are, Baby Sensory wishes you a merry Christmas and a happy New Year!


By Dr. Lin Day (www.babysensory.com)