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Christmas Eve Traditions from Around the World | Naturally Ideal

By Tucana Trading December 23, 2021 0 comments

13 Countries and Their Christmas Eve Traditions

santa tree fireplace
 It's interesting to take a look at how our own ways of celebrating Christmas Eve look compared to others. Though many practices and traditions cross over with other cultures, every country is different in how they celebrate.

North America

cookies and nutcracker

Children leave out milk and cookies and the occasional carrot for Santa Claus and his reindeer for his annual trip to down the chimney to deliver presents to good kids. Those who are religious usually attend a midnight mass that consists of singing traditional Christmas carols.


opening gifts in front of a tree

Some families will open presents on Christmas Eve instead of the 25th. Most will put up their stockings that night in anticipation of Santa Claus coming to fill them with goodies.


family dinner

In France, Christmas Eve is called Le Réveillon De Noël. Before attending midnight mass, families will gather to eat a meal together.


ornament on tree

Children leave mince pies and brandy for Father Christmas (Santa Claus) and carrots for the reindeer. Usually people attend a candle lit service that includes Christmas carols. After this they watch a nativity and attend midnight mass. 


candle in window

The people of Ireland set candles in the window sills of their homes right after sunset to provide a hospitable light for Mary and Joseph. They also leave out a drink with cake and carrots. Children await Santa Claus to deliver their presents and most will gather at church for midnight mass.


seafood pasta on table

Christmas Eve is referred to as Vigilia di Natale. No meat is consumed on this day to make sure their bodies are pure for the upcoming holidays. Instead they'll eat a seven course seafood dinner. This practice comes from the Roman Catholic tradition. Then midnight mass is put on by the Pope.


 tree with lights and little boy

Gifts are exchanged and the Christmas tree is put up on Christmas Eve. This day is usually a fasting day so there is no extravagant meal. The rest of the day is spent attending an afternoon mass and lighting candles and/or lights on the tree.


nuts seeds fruits 

the celebration of Сочельник starts on Christmas Eve. The word is derived from сочиво which is a meal made from grains, nuts, seeds, honey and dried fruit. They eat this to end the Nativity Fast that’s forty days long. It doesn’t cease until the first star in the night sky is seen. This symbolizes the Star of Bethlehem that led the three wise men to Jerusalem.



China isn't made up of many Christians but citizens have found their own ways to celebrate the day. People gift each other and eat apples. This is because the word apple in Chinese sounds like the Mandarin word for peace as in Peaceful Evening--a translation from the carol Silent Night. This is also what they call Christmas Eve. These apples are sold with loving messages printed on their skin. The rare few that are Christian celebrate by participating in church services with songs and drama performances.



Nacimientos--nativity scenes built in homes--are started on December 16th. Characters are slowly added to the display as the month moves along and on Christmas Eve the baby Jesus is finally added. Christmas Eve is called Nochebuena which translates to "the good night". Families join midnight mass then have a nice family dinner together. Fireworks and poinsettia flowers are also common.


cars and lights

Christmas Eve is also called Nochebuena in Spain. It's a day for families to come together and eat a feast. Others attend midnight mass that is called Misa del Gallo to celebrate the birth of Jesus and sing carol songs.


santa on the water

Christmas Even in Australia is different from others because it falls right in their summer season. A cold beer is usually left out for Santa Claus and obviously carrots for the reindeer. Carols by Candlelight is a tradition where loved ones gather outdoors to light candles and sing Christmas carols.


man and woman reading on a bed

Families come together and eat a sweet rice porridge. An almond is typically hidden in the bowl and the lucky person to find it is given a gift. At six, the celebration of opening gifts begins. Usually they get new clothes or books. Some even go to the cemetery to light a candle for their loved ones.

Happy Holidays from Naturally Ideal


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