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Christmas Celebrations Around The World

A Look At Christmas In The Ukraine, Australia, Mexico, and India

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Following the Julian calendar, Christmas in Ukraine is a family-oriented holiday celebrated on January 7th, spent in a both festive and spiritual demeanor. Ukrainian families traditionally serve the meal of Sviata Vecheria on the Eve of Christmas after the first star appears in the night sky. During Sviata Vecheria, the family gathers around a table with extra chairs for the deceased and hay scattered underneath it to represent the humble barn Jesus was born in. A Kolach with a lit candle to burn through the night is placed in the middle of the table while another candle burns on a windowsill as a sign of hospitality to any homeless people.

As the star appears, the family prays and sings the Nativity Tropar before breaking the day’s fast and eating the first dish of Sviata Vecheria, called Kutia. The traditional twelve dishes served representing Jesus’ twelve disciples are eaten in the presence a Didukh decoration placed on the table, a bundle of wheat signifying a large wheat field in Ukraine and a connection to the family’s ancestors.

After a night of caroling, the family attends a Nativity Mass to celebrate the birth of Christ before visiting others the next day while caroling. The carols, often referred to as “Koliadky,” may be sung by people raising colorful decorated stars on sticks.

Children in Ukraine often receive presents on December 19th before their celebration on Christmas Eve. Spider webs made of paper and silver wire are popular decorations for Christmas trees, originating from the story of a poor family whose children decorate their Christmas tree in cobwebs on Christmas Eve, waking up to find the cobwebs have turned to strands of silver and gold.

Students in Australia have the joy of celebrating Christmas in December when they begin their summer break! Similar to the decorating many families do in the United States, many Australians hang wreaths on the doors of their homes and adorn their garden plants with Christmas lights. A popular decoration are bundles of ‘Christmas Bushes’ which come from a native Australian tree. The flowers on the tree turn from a cream color to red, typically close to when Christmas arrives. Some Australian families are known to have Christmas light display competitions where they decorate their homes with lights and decide which home has the most extravagant light display.

A popular Australian Christmas tradition is Carols by Candlelight, an event where famous Australian singers help sing carols. To celebrate on the day of Christmas, many Australian families join together for lunch, or the main Christmas meal. Seafood barbecues with lobsters and prawns are popular Christmas meals, or a cold meal is also typical. Christmas “Crackers” are often placed next to each plate when the Christmas meal is served. These are short cardboard tubes wrapped in festive paper, and, when opened, let out a “pop” noise and a gift or joke falls out.

In Mexico, Christmas is celebrated for a few weeks, starting December 12th and ending on January 6th. ‘Posada’ processions, celebrating the story of Mary and Joseph’s search for hospitality, are typically performed by children from December 16th to Christmas Eve. The Posadas- Spanish for lodgings- are decorated with lanterns and are where children go to celebrate. The children reenact with clay figures the journey of Mary and Joseph to find hospitality as they visit the homes- or “Posadas-” of friends and family, singing songs about Mary and Joseph to find room in the house. They do this until they are accepted into a Posada where they say prayers and then have a party.

Some Posada games include batting a piñata- generally decorated with seven spikes symbolic of the ‘seven deadly sins-’ for sweets. After finding a Posada on the night of Christmas Eve, Children put baby Jesus into a manger scene and then families go to a Church service at midnight known as the “Misa de Gallo.”

Another popular tradition in Mexico are the Pastorelas, or plays that are generally humorous reenactments of the journey the shepherds take to search for baby Jesus. The shepherds visit Jesus with the guidance of Archangel Michael, overcoming the devil who tries to tempt the shepherds on their journey.

Although Christmas is a small festival in India because only about 2.3% of the Indian population is Christian, the population of India is over one billion so there are more than twenty-five million Christians there! On Christmas Eve, churches adorned with Poinsettia flowers hold Midnight Mass services followed by a massive feast with different delicacies and the exchange of gifts. This service is important to Christians who often travel as families to this sacred mass service.

Many Christians living in India will decorate a banana or mango tree instead of a Christmas tree, and they often use mango leaves as decorations for their homes. In Southern India, Christians show their love of Jesus by putting lamps on the flat roofs of their homes, symbolic of Jesus being the light of the world.

In Goa, the smallest state of India, many Christians will sing carols for their neighbors and bake and purchase many festive treats including a fruit Christmas cake and dodol, similar to toffee accented with coconut and cashew. On Christmas Eve, paper lanterns shaped as stars are hung between houses and the main Christmas meal- typically roast turkey or chicken- is eaten.


Cooper, James. “Christmas in Australia.” Why Christmas, James Cooper,

Cooper, James. “Christmas in India.” Why Christmas, James Cooper,

Cooper, James. “Christmas in Mexico.” Why Christmas, James Cooper,

Cooper, James. “Christmas in Ukraine.” Why Christmas, James Cooper,

Cooper, James. “The History of Christmas Crackers.” Why Christmas, James Cooper,

Cooper, James. “The History of Christmas Trees.” Why Christmas, James Cooper,

“Traditional Ukrainian Christmas Eve Supper.” Prairie Cottage Perogies, Sparkjoy Studios,

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Christmas Celebrations Around The World