"". Christmas Traditions From Around the World | Is This Mutton?

Fashion for the over 50s with books and beauty

Search This Blog

Thursday 7 December 2017

Christmas Traditions From Around the World

Dear friends. How different is a Christmas in Alaska from a Christmas in Stockholm? Or Canada? Or Spain or Germany?

As Is This Mutton? discovered, there are lots of similarities - but also some unique cultural traditions.

Alaska, USA - too cold for Christmas trees!

Fashion blogger and author Nicole Mölders emigrated to the US from Germany. She lives in Fairbanks, Alaska but stays true to some of the German traditions. Says Nicole: “I set up the tree the day after Thanksgiving - the fourth Thursday in November. I order German Christmas cookies in early November. When I bake a Dresdner Stollen, I do that about 6-8 weeks before Christmas Eve so it is perfect just then.”

In some European countries, Christmas Eve is the more important day and Nicole confirms that it was for her when she was a child. “However, since my late mom had her birthday on December 23rd, we visited my parents that day. Thus, we travelled back on the 24th. So the 25th became our day of celebration. We kept it that way after our emigration to Alaska.”

image showing a woman decorating a real Christmas tree with purple baubles
Nicole decorates the tree 

She also marks December 6, St Nicholas. “Last year my husband surprised me with a bamboo watch from Jord.”

On Christmas Eve, Nicole will be working (she is an engineer) so she keeps the dinner menu fairly simple: black potato salad with onions, Dijon mustard, apple vinegar, and hot bacon pieces plus Wieners. Christmas Day is spent at home, exchanging gifts, phoning family and “eating too much.”  The Christmas Day meal is salads, maybe fish, mushrooms, desserts and fruit.

Nicole likes to dress up, and not in a Christmas jumper.

“The only “Christmas” piece of clothing I own is a silk Christmas scarf. It looks very similar to a Hermes scarf. I wear that scarf with either a LBD in Christmas colours. When it’s -30C or so, I go for jeans with tights or long underwear underneath and a sweater.”

image showing a middle aged woman in a plaid dress and red tights next to a Christmas tree

Yes, it really is that cold.  And this presents a challenge for anyone wanting a real Christmas tree.  They lose their needles at temperatures below freezing. On the drive from the store to home, it’s impossible to present the tree being subjected to the frigid cold Alaska air. Nicole is also allergic to the needles, so it’s safe to assume the tree will; be artificial.

Nicole's blog is High Latitude Style. She is on Instagram, @HighLatitudeStyle.

UK - Baby's first Christmas

This Christmas will be very special for blogger Tasha Hudson and her boyfriend Aron in the south of England. It's their baby Darcie's first Christmas. She was born 12 days before Christmas last year so didn't know much about proceedings, but she had an early acquaintance with Father Christmas.

Image showing as new born baby with Father Christmas

Christmas Day (Dec 25) is the big day in the UK. Tasha's mother will be cooking a full Christmas roast dinner with all the trimmings. Says Tasha: "I am so excited that this year Darcie can join in and eat dinner with us too. There will be turkey, lamb and pork with all the veggies and trimmings. Not forgetting pigs in blankets!"

In fact they're so keen on pigs in blankets (cocktail sausages wrapped in bacon) that they will also have them for breakfast.

On Christmas Eve, Tasha and Aron will go into town to immerse themselves in the Christmas spirit, and then spend the rest of the day wrapping presents, snuggling on the sofa in new pyjamas, and eating Christmas food. Santa and the reindeer are not left out. A glass of milk and a mince pie  is left out along with a carrot for Rudolph

Says Tasha: "This year we will leave Darcie’s Santa Sack at the end of her cot. Tears are filling my eyes with joy just thinking about this! We will put presents under the tree ready for Darcie when she wakes up.

Image showing a baby girl excitedly opening a Christmas present

Tasha is keen to create traditions and as she loves decorations, she had a special Christmas decoration made. "We will carry this on now, even when our family grows we will still have personalised decorations made. We'll also take Darcie and any brothers and sisters to see Father Christmas each year."
Image showing a personalized Christmas decoration

The outfits on Christmas Day will all be festive. Says Tasha: "We'll be wearing something that’s comfortable yet has a certain formality to it. Darcie will no doubt be wearing a pretty dress and tights and a Christmas bow."

Find Tasha's blog here. On Instagram she's @itsatashathingg

Sweden - dancing, candles and meat balls

In Stockholm, Camilla Törnblom’s preparations begin with Christmas flowers and candles about one week before first advent. She explains: “Every Sunday in December we have some sort of Christmas activity with friends and family. We drink glögg and eat gingerbread.

"Then we have Lucia (the Feast of St Lucy), a Christian feast day celebrated on 13 December in advent. You go to church and listen to beautiful music and all the children in school and kinder garden dress up in long white robes as Lucia, ginger man, snow man, and small Santa. The children sing Christmas songs with candles."

Image showing Swedish marketing professional Camilla Tornblom

Camilla likes to mix very old decorations with new modern choices. “We decorate our Christmas tree in the living room, usually a few days before Christmas. It’s a real green tree and we always make the mistake of buying a tree that is a just a bit too big. We decorate outside as well with lot of warm lights and a crazy snow man.”

On Christmas Day the children open a morning gift from the stocking that hangs on their door.  Says Camilla: “The children can play with the gift during the day when adults prepare for early dinner and around 8pm we unwrap the rest of the gifts. It’s a very long day for all the kids.

“We go to my sister's stable as she has a horse that needs some extra care. We do that after dinner. It’s a good excuse to exercise a bit after all the food. We have all the Christmas gifts under the tree, and usually one of the kids reads out the gift card and hands the present to the right person.”

“We help each other with the cooking and every year we resolve not to cook so much, but it never happens.  This year we have decided to cook a healthy menu with some greens and vegetarian alternatives but we will keep the ham and meatballs.”

The family likes to dress up for dinner with Camilla in something glittery or Christmas red.

Germany - shoes and sweets for St Nikolaus

Christmas for Daniela Singer, in the beautiful Bavarian city of Munich, starts at advent (December 1) with the baking of cookies called Lebkuchen with the kids and decorating the house. She says: “Buying presents can take a few weeks and at times can be a last-minute rush but with the internet it is so easy and even last minute gifts make it in time!

The big day in Germany is December 24, and that’s when presents are opened. On Dec 25, the family goes out to eat.  Typical things on the menu are roast goose, stollen and a vegetarian dish for Daniela.

The whole of the house is decorated. “Amongst the decorations there are small wooden angels, a nutcracker and candles. On the table, there is the advent wreath. We always have a real tree for Christmas which we decorate and put up the weekend before. The decoration for our Christmas tree is fairly traditional and simple with straw stars, glass balls in red and gold, a bit of tinsel and electric candles.”

Image showing a German Christmas tree with gold and red decorations
Daniela's Christmas tree 

Celebrating Advent is an important part of Christmas in Germany.  Says Daniela: “We all have our own advent calendars - the kids’ ones are filled with chocolates. I have a traditional one of card with a Christmas scene. There is a window to open every day up to Christmas Eve – 24 in total. We also have an Advent wreath with 4 candles – one for every Sunday leading up to Christmas Eve.

“We celebrate Nikolaus when everyone puts out a shoe on the night of Dec. 5th. When we get up on the 6th, the shoe is filled with small gifts and chocolates.

“We always visit several Christmas markets as there are several in Munich. You can buy traditional things like crib figures, candles, Christmas ornaments and have a Glühwein along with roasted chestnuts or other delicious things. The atmosphere is very festive – especially if there is snow!”

Canada - Bosnian traditions take pride of place 

Dijana Dzinic, her husband and their oldest daughter emigrated to Canada 22 years ago because of the war in the former Yugoslavia. They live in Kamloops, British Columbia. Decorating the house and outside starts early for Dijana. “Usually we start decorating the outside of our house and inside the last week of November and the beginning of December.

“We had a real tree one year but unfortunately it died before Christmas day and its nettles fell all over my floor making a big mess in the house. So now we have an artificial tree. It is always decorated traditionally. I have red, gold, and green decorations. The theme stays the same every year.”

A middle aged woman in green silk shirt decorates the Christmas tree
When her two daughters were younger, Dijana started buying presents three months in advance. She says: “On Christmas Eve, we used to watch movies and the girls would open two small gifts and leave out cookies for Santa Claus and a few carrots for his reindeer.” On Christmas Day, Dijana and her husband were woken by their daughters eager to open the rest of their presents. 

Dijana’s two daughters still spend Christmas Day with the family. On the menu is ham, turkey, cabbage rolls from Bosnia, Russian salad, potato salad, veggie platter, quiche, traditional Bosnian pita, and stuffed pasta shells.
Image showing Bosnian pita made of filo pastry and spinach
Bosnian Pita

Dijana usually wear pajamas while films are watched, and if they have company for dinner, she gets dressed up and does her hair and makeup. If it’s just the family, she keeps it more casual.

Image showing a couple and their daughter and two dogs

Follow Dijana on Instagram:@dijanadzinic

Spain - Christmas wishes and a hand painted crib

Sacramento Amate is editor of "Mis Papelicos" a blog about personal style fashion at any age. She is passionate for fashion and art and combines the two by painting with clothes and creating compositions as a means of art and self-expression.

Sacramento dresses up every day of the year so Christmas is no exception.

Image showing Spanish fashion and style blogger Mis Papelicos in a medieval style gown and pearl headdress
Sacramento was inspired by an image of a medieval bride and recreated the look

It's a time for family and everyone comes and stays for the length of the Christmas holidays. Decorating the house starts on December 10. The daughters and children do this while Sacramento's husband sorts out the crib. The marble figures were painted by Sacramento for future generations to enjoy.

"Our most important time is the evening of the 24th, Noche Buena. Everyone dresses up. Most people have a big dinner but we prepare little bites to enjoy. The typical sweet at Christmas is Turrón, made with almonds, egg white and honey.

Image showing a Spanish sweet called Turrón made of almonds sugar and egg white

"After dinner we write wishes on a piece of paper. We make an energy circle: our left hand rests on the right hand of the person next to us who is holding the wishing paper. It's like a meditation and makes Christmas about more than just food and drink. After the reflection, we burn the papers on the back patio."

Sacramento's husband is British so they have a traditional Christmas dinner of chicken with stuffing and all the trimmings on Dec 25. She is vegetarian so has leftovers from the night before.

Presents are bought just for the children, who still believe in Santa Claus.

Sacramento's blog: Mis Papelicos. Instagram: @mispapelicos

Enjoy a taste of Christmas from other countries

Spanish Turrón (recipe at Oh The Things We'll Make) Lebkuchen from Germany: visit The Daring Gourmet for a recipe for traditional Nurnberg lebkuchen.
Bosnian Pita: visit Genius Kitchen for their recipe.
Old-fashioned Swedish Glogg: recipe from All Recipes Dresdner Stollen: recipe from GermanFoodsOrg Christmas Pudding: recipe from Delia Online 


Don't miss a post -  follow Is This Mutton? on Bloglovin or Feedspot. You'll love "shoe of the day" on Is This Mutton? Facebook page. And check out the Is This Mutton? Pinterest boards, including boards on other bloggers in fab outfits plus beauty, jewellery, hairstyles and fashion picks. Is This Mutton? is also on Twitter.  



  1. Really enjoyed this post and reading about all the different traditions. So wonderful! Have a great day. Gemma x

  2. Great post! Thanks for including me!

  3. Lovely read, so interesting to hear what other bloggers do at Christmas time. Jacqui

  4. What an educational post. Like taking a tour around the world this holiday season. It just occurred to me that maybe you never got my responses to your survey questions. I hope that isn't the case! I thought sure I sent them with pictures but now I am worried.

    Enjoyed reading about all of the traditions...the chocolate advent calendars, the medieval costume Sacramento recreated, drooling over the Bosnian pita, Lucia, setting out shoes. So interesting!

  5. It's interesting how different countries have different traditions and it's all quite interesting. My brother has lived in Denmark the past 30 years. On Christmas eve (their main day too) they dance around the tree holding hands before opening presents. Enjoyed reading Gail xx

  6. Lovely post Gail :) I love spotting some of my favourite bloggers too.


Blog Design Created by pipdig