Add Christmas traditions to your learning during the Christmas holiday. We have Christmas traditions ideas for families and 13 Christmas around the world activities, lessons and crafts! Perfect for traditions on Christmas day or throughout the holiday season!
What Are Christmas Traditions?
Before we get to Christmas traditions around the world, let’s talk a little about family Christmas traditions origins, whether you’re looking to create some or you want to add to your current traditions!
What are family Christmas traditions?
Family Christmas traditions are things that are done every year surrounding the holidays. Sometimes, they are passed down from generation to generation. Other times, they may be traditions that a family starts new and continues throughout the years. Examples of Christmas traditions are picking out a Christmas tree, sitting on Santa’s lap, drinking hot chocolate while decorating the tree, watching a specific holiday movie, and more.
You don’t have to pick just one Christmas tradition! You can add many different family Christmas activities and traditions for the entire season!
Here are some Christmas tradition ideas, whether you’re looking for new Christmas traditions or want to add to your best Christmas traditions passed down through your family…
Fun Family Christmas Traditions List
What are good Christmas traditions? 14 Christmas Traditions for Families
Make your own Christmas traditions history with family (or, Christmas traditions to start) like:
- Read Christmas books together each night.
- Do a yearly advent calendar.
- Make an old fashioned popcorn garland.
- Get matching family Christmas pajamas and watch family Christmas movies together.
- Turn off tech and play board games (find Christmas traditions games for the entire season).
- Make Christmas ornaments from travels or special events over the past year to become part of your Christmas traditions decorations.
- Make an old-fashioned recipe and then give it as a gift.
- Get a group together and go Christmas caroling at a nursing home.
- Have a game night Christmas traditions trivia party each year.
- Have a Christmas cookie decorating party with a hot chocolate bar. (Kids christmas tradition that everyone will love!)
- Start the pickle ornament tradition and give a gift to the person who finds it! (SUPER fun Christmas traditions for families! Even our older kids and their family still love looking for it!)
- Go to a Christmas Eve service.
- Fill a thermos with hot chocolate, grab some cups, and walk or drive around neighborhoods looking at Christmas lights and displays.
- Play the plastic wrap ball game. (This will become a favorite family christmas idea!)
Christmas fun traditions are only limited by your imagination! Ask your family what they would like to do to create magical Christmas traditions (or even funny family Christmas traditions!).
Need unique Christmas tradition ideas for family with younger kids?
You can also easily add toddler family traditions for Christmas, too!
Here are some great ideas for a family Christmas with little ones…
Christmas Traditions with Toddlers
Try these fun Christmas traditions for toddlers:
- Bake Christmas cookies.
- Sing Christmas songs.
- Pick favorite Christmas books and read them every year.
- Create Christmas crafts for the Christmas tree or Christmas decorations.
- Make reindeer food for Santa’s reindeer.
- Let the wrap presents — however they want!
- Let go of Elf on the Shelf and do one of these Elf on Shelf alternatives instead.
- Let them decorate their own felt Christmas tree.
Family Traditions On Christmas: Walk This World at Christmastime Children’s Book
Walk This World at Christmastime is a fantastic children’s book to add to your Christmastraditions book reading and Christmas around the world learning.
(It’s so cool that I had to come back here and update this post after we got the book!)
Each set of pages covers different countries and their traditions of Christmas … in lift-the-flap format!
(Who doesn’t love lift the flaps? My daughter is 11 years old and LOVED this book … and so did I!)
Along with the regular flaps, there are also numbered flaps so you could actually use this book as an advent calendar option, too!
THIS IS ONE OF THE BEST KIDS’ BOOK I’VE BOUGHT IN A LONG TIME!
It’s one of those great Christmas traditions gifts that keeps giving back every year!
Now that we’ve covered some Christmas traditions for families, let’s take at a look at how others celebrate the holiday season in different countries with family traditions at Christmas around the world!
Christmas Traditions from Around the World
Christmas Traditions in America
Christmas Traditions USA can be religious based or secular and may vary a little between states.
Christians celebrate the season as a time of the birth of Jesus and may attend church and participate in additional religious activities throughout the season.
Many families, both religious and secular, put up Christmas trees and decorate them with ornaments.
The time is usually centered around family and friends enjoying a big meal of Christmas traditions recipes (which can vary by family) and exchanging gifts, which often happens on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.
Many American children believe that a jolly man called Santa Claus brings them gifts and fills their stockings (hanging from a fireplace mantel) with treats, which they open on Christmas morning, December 25.
Americans say, “Merry Christmas!”
You may already be familiar with Christmas traditions in America, so let’s check out some other countries…
Christmas Traditions of Canada
Canadian Christmas traditions are similar to Christmas traditions in America.
Canadian families also decorate a Christmas tree and exchange gifts.
Christians also celebrate the birth of Jesus on Christmas Day, December 25.
Some Canadian children also believe in Santa Claus, who brings gifts on Christmas morning.
Christmas traditions Canada include saying Merry Christmas or even “Joyeux Noel,” since it’s also a French speaking country.
Christmas Traditions in Germany
German christmas traditions for Santa Claus or Father Christmas is der Weihnachtsmann, who brings presents for children on December 24, which is the main day for the holiday.
Christmas traditions of Germany also include decorating a Christmas tree, folding complex paper stars, and advent is also a big part of the holiday.
During the holiday season, Germans also celebrate St. Nicholas Day on December 6. On the eve of St. Nicholas Day (December 5), children leave their shoes in the doorway to be filled with treats by St. Nicholas.
Some areas of German also believe in “Knecht Ruprecht” or “Krampus,” while other parts believe in “Schwarzer Peter,” or Black Peter. Both are characters that threaten to punish children if they are bad.
Germans say, “Happy or Merry Christmas” as “Frohe Weihnachten.”
Christmas Traditions in Mexico
Christmas in Mexico is celebrated from around December 12 to January 6.
From December 16 until Christmas Eve (December 24), or Buena Noche, Christmas traditions of Mexico include children performing Posada processions.
These nine days make up Las Posadas celebration, or “the inns” or “shelter.”
During this time, children dress up as Bible characters, with a procession led by children dressed as an angel, Mary, and Joseph and honors the journey to Bethlehem from the Bible.
People decorate their homes with paper lanterns, moss, and trees.
On the ninth day, everyone attends midnight mass before returning home for a feast.
December 25 is a quiet day spent with family.
Gift giving in Mexico is on January 6, which is called “Dia de los Tres Reyes Magos,” or Three Kings’ Day. The presents are delivered by the Three Wise Men who brought gifts to baby Jesus in the Bible.
However, some areas also have also started Santa Claus, or Papa Noel.
Merry Christmas in Mexico is “Feliz Navidad.”
Christmas Traditions in Italy
For many Italians, Christmas is a Catholic religious holiday, where the people fast all of Christmas Eve (especially no meat). If they eat before mass, it is often a small meal of some kind of fish.
Christmas traditions of Italy include people attending midnight mass on Christmas Eve celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.
After mass is the feast and celebration.
Father Christmas, or “Babbo Natale,” brings presents on Christmas Eve.
The Nativity scene, is very popular in Italy.
On the evening before Epiphany (January 5), a folktale says that Befana flies across the sky and leaves cookies and cakes for kids while they’re sleeping.
Italians say Merry Christmas as “buon Natale.”
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Christmas Traditions in England
In England, Christmas decorations consist of a kissing bough (mistletoe), ivy, holly, and evergreen Christmas trees.
Like in America, with Christmas traditions England, children also write letters to Santa Claus and Santa delivers presents on Christmas day. However, instead of mailing the letters, some children through them into the fireplace for the smoke to carry them up to Santa.
British children also hang stockings, but instead of by the fireplace, they hang then on the end of their bed to be filled with treats to be filled with Santa Claus or Father Christmas.
Christmas crackers are traditional decoration for the Christmas meal, served in the afternoon on Christmas Day.
Christmas Traditions of France
Christmas traditions in France center a lot around a Nativity scenes, with the Baby Jesus figurine and other figures.
French homes often burn cherry wood Yule logs, especially on Christmas eve, where candles and logs are left burning for Jesus and Mary.
Instead of Santa Claus, the French have Père Noël, or Father Christmas.
The main Christmas meal is eaten after returning from church late Christmas Eve night (or morning). The meal can include traditional French holiday food like cheese (of course!), roast goose or turkey, and a traditional French called called bûche de Noël — a chocolate sponge cake.
The French say Joyeux Noël instead of Merry Christmas.
Christmas Traditions in Spain
Christmas traditions Spain include going to midnight mass at church on Christmas Eve, called La Misa Del Gallo, or The Mass of the Rooster, based on a rooster crowing the night Jesus was born.
Traditional Spanish Christmas meals are eaten on Christmas Eve (Nochebuena) before church. It includes Pavo Trufado de Navidad, or truffle-stuffed turkey and sweet desserts of mazapán.
In Spain, Santa Claus is called Papa Noel.
Christmas traditions of Spain do include children opening presents, but most children’s Christmas presents are opened on Epiphany on January 5th. Before Epiphany, Spanish children leave shoes on balconies or under Christmas trees to be filled with gifts or sugar coal for naughty kids!
In Spain, they say Feliz Navidad instead of Merry Christmas.
Clearly, there are so many more family traditions Christmas around the world, but this gives you a good idea of some different countries to add to your studies!
Now that we’ve covered family tradition for Christmas, let’s get to the Christmas around the world lesson plans and activities!
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13 Christmas Around the World Lesson Plans and Activities
These Christmas around the world crafts, lesson plans, and projects are a fun way to learn Christmas traditions for kids!
- Do a Christmas Around the World Lesson Plan (Part 1 and Part 2)
- Complete a Christmas Around the World geography study unit.
- Read books about Christmas traditions around the world:
- Create Kwanzaa Art
- Make a Baby Jesus Christmas craft.
- Read Polar Express and Learn About Holiday Traditions
- Do a Let’s Celebrate Christmas! lesson plan.
- Learn about the Diwali Festival of Lights in India.
- Make a German advent wreath.
- Make a Mexican Los Posada luminary.
- Create Christmas crackers like they use in England.
- Complete a How Do You Celebrate? An Introduction to Holiday Customs lesson plan.
- Make a folded paper star like they make in Germany.
We’d love to hear about your Christmas family traditions!