Christmas Tree Traditions Around the World

By: Lynn Jebbia

There are hundreds of Christmas traditions handed down from generation to generation, from culture to culture.

Traditions like the Christmas tree in the living room, the Christmas wreathon the door, the mistletoe hanging from the chandelier, gifts underneath the tree, stockings hanging above the fireplace and cookies left out for good ole St. Nick. The Christmas tree is the most popular tradition across all cultures.

Christmas Tree Traditions Around the World

  • Australia
    Even in warm climates at Christmas the tradition of decorating trees exists. In Australia, Christmas is in the middle of the summer. Many Australians decorate Christmas bushes which are native plants with little red flowered leaves.

  • Brazil
    Pine trees are decorated with little pieces of cotton to represent falling snow.
  • England
    Queen Victoria's husband, Prince Albert brought the first Christmas tree to Windsor Castle in 1834 which started its popularity in England. This popularity crossed over to the United States and by 1850 it had become very fashionable in the eastern states.
  • Findland
    The first outdoor Christmas tree decorated with electric lights was in the market square in the town of Pietarsaari, Finland in 1905.
  • Greenland
    Christmas trees are imported into Greenland because there aren't any trees there; They decorate their trees with candles and bright ornaments. 
  • Germany 
    During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the tops of evergreens were cut off and hung upside down in a corner of the living room. They would then decorate these evergreens with apples, nuts and strips of red paper. The fir tree decorated with apples represented the tree of knowledge in the Garden of Eden.

    Today, the Christmas tree or Tannenbaum in Germany is traditionally decorated secretly by the mother with lights, tinsel and ornaments. The rest of the family see it on Christmas Eve with cookies, nuts and gifts under its branches.

  • Norwegians
    They decorate their trees on Christmas Eve and then join hands and sing carols while walking around it. The tree is usually decorated by the parents while the children wait anxiously outside the room. After the tree is decorated a Norwegian ritual known as 'circling the Christmas tree' is performed. The family joins hands around the tree and then walks around it singing Christmas carols. After this they exchange gifts.
  • Sweden
    Christmas trees in Sweden are decorated with stars, sunbursts and snowflakes made from straw.
  • Spain
    The Spanish has a fun tradition of playing a game called Catalonia in which a tree trunk is filled with goodies and the children hit the trunk, like the pinata is hit in Mexico, trying to knock out goodies like hazelnuts, almonds, toffee and other treats.

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