Christmas Traditions Across the World

Christmas traditions in Scotland differ and evolve from family to family as we create our own but most people rely on old traditions as the back bone of the Christmas dinner table. Have you ever wondered what other cultures experience at this magical time of year? We have put together some of our favourite ways that other countries celebrate the festive period.


Among Chinese people the tradition of giving ‘peace apples’ has developed as their own unique Christmas traditions. The apples, known as ‘ping guo’, are usually gifted on Christmas Eve. Often they are presented in colourful boxes with customisable, printed messages of love, peace and Christmas well wishes. It’s said that eating a peace apple on Christmas Eve blesses the recipient with a safe and peaceful year.


This tradition stemmed from a marketing idea then KFC Japan spokeswoman, Motoichi Nakatani, had to create a “party barrel” to be sold on Christmas to encourage sales. There was no obvious Christmas traditions in Japan, so it took off fairly quickly turning into a national phenomenon. Christmas is acknowledged in Japan but not celebrated, for those that take part it’s not as easy and walking into a KFC to order. Getting the KFC Christmas dinner often must be ordered weeks in advance and walk ins during this time can wait for hours.


On Christmas Eve, many Italians take part in the Feast of the Seven Fishes as their Christmas traditions. This stems from the long standing tradition of Vigilia which is a day of fasting that ends with a meal that excludes meat and dairy. Although, the origin of the seven fishes is uncertain but there are a few theories as to what the seven fishes signify. One is that it represents the 7 days for God to create the Earth another is the seven famous hills that surround the city of Rome.


Selyodka Pod Shuboy translates as ‘herring under a fur coat’ and is traditionally served as a party food at Christmas time. It’s made up of picked herring layered under diced potato, carrots, beetroot, onions, and mayonnaise. The extravagant layers are then topped with boiled eggs. It’s an essential staple of a Russian Christmas party or as part of Zakuski to celebrate the new year.


Christmas Eve in Poland is also a day of fasting that is broken when supper is served in the evening. As tradition, a wafer called an oplatek is broken and shared amongst family members. The traditional Polish Christmas Eve supper consists of 12 dishes. However, much like the Italian tradition of the Feast of the Seven Fishes, there is no meat included in the dishes. One popular dish that often features is Barszcz con pierogi. Pierogi are dumpling like parcels filled with sweet fillings like poppy seeds and plums or savoury fillings like mushrooms or cabbage.

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