Christmas in an enchanting time of the year for many of us, but it is still a holiday that is celebrated very differently in different parts of the world. For starters, Swedes celebrate Christmas on December 24; one day before many of the other countries in the West. In Sweden, Christmas celebrations are often kicked off at 3 p.m. when the whole family gathers in front of the TV to watch Donald Duck and his friends get up to mischief for an hour. It does not matter how old you are or how many times you’ve seen the show – Donald Duck is as important as dancing around the tree on Christmas Eve.
Like the Germans, Swedes celebrate Advent the four Sundays leading up to Christmas Eve, which is a great opportunity for families to get together to drink glögg (glüwine in Germany) and eat gingerbread. What the cured and oven roasted ham is to Swedes, tamales are to the people of Guatemala, whereas the French cook up a feast of roast turkey, oysters, foie gras and lobster.
Although Christianity is the predominant religion in Sweden, you will find nearly every window decorated with a triangle shaped menorah (a traditionally Jewish symbol) come Christmas time. Odd as it may be, our Christmas decoration does not stand a chance compared to the Americans, whose more-is-more decorations often extend all the way to their garden. Equally peculiar may be the fact that most family homes in Sweden are actually visited by Santa Claus after Donald Duck is over, when everyone is awake, and, coincidentally, always while the man of the family is out buying newspaper. In Egypt, on the other hand, the children hope that Santa will climb through the window to leave some presents by the window sill.
While Swedes have been chopping down pine trees to decorate them with our ornaments for centuries, it is the banana- or mango tree that serves as the Christmas centerpiece in India. For more information about how Christmas is celebrated around the world, please visit http://www.whychristmas.com/cultures/.