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Traditional Christmas Decorations from Around the World

Christmas is a beloved holiday celebrated by millions of people around the world. While it is historically associated with Christianity, the holiday has evolved into a more secular celebration, with many countries and cultures observing their own unique traditions.


Who celebrates Christmas Day?


Christmas is celebrated by Christians worldwide, including in many countries such as the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, France, Italy, Brazil, Mexico, and many others. While Christmas is primarily a religious holiday commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, it has also become a cultural celebration observed by people of various backgrounds in many parts of the world.


What are the differences between traditional Christmas decorations in different countries?


Traditional Christmas decorations vary widely from country to country. For example, in the United States, Christmas trees are adorned with lights and ornaments, while in Mexico, colorful paper ornaments are common. In Italy and Spain, elaborate nativity scenes play a central role, while in Sweden, decorative candlesticks are popular. Each culture incorporates its own symbols, colors, and traditions into their festive decor, showcasing the rich diversity of Christmas celebrations worldwide.

Traditional Christmas decorations from different countries and regions are a beautiful way to add a touch of cultural diversity to your holiday festivities. From handmade ornaments to intricate wreaths, each country has its own unique way of decorating for the festive season.

In this blog, we will explore some fascinating traditional Christmas decorations from different parts of the world.


merry christmas concept black background


Germany: Nutcrackers and Advent Calendars


Germany is renowned for its Christmas markets, which are filled with festive stalls and traditional decorations. One of the most iconic German Christmas decorations is the nutcracker, with its wooden soldier-like appearance and functional nut-cracking capabilities. The nutcracker’s mouth can be opened wide to crack open nuts, adding a playful touch to the holiday festivities.


christmas tree nutcracker-ornament


Additionally, Germans traditionally use advent calendars to count down the days to Christmas, with each day revealing a small surprise or treat.


Sephora Advent Calendar Tout


Switzerland: Christmas Candles and Advent Wreaths


Switzerland is home to some of the most picturesque Christmas markets in Europe. One of the most prominent Swiss traditional Christmas decorations is the advent wreath, which consists of a circular wreath made of evergreen branches, adorned with four candles.

Each Sunday leading up to Christmas, one candle is lit, representing the anticipation of the arrival of Jesus Christ. The wreath’s vibrant greenery and flickering candlelight create a warm and inviting atmosphere.

Additionally, Swiss families often decorate their homes with candles and twinkling lights, creating a cozy and warm atmosphere.



Sweden: Dala Horses and St. Lucia’s Crown


Moving on to Sweden, we discover the charming Dala horses. Carved from wood and painted in vibrant colors, these horse-shaped ornaments are a staple of Swedish traditional Christmas traditions. They originated as toys for children, but over time, they evolved into decorative symbols believed to bring good luck and protection. Nowadays, Dala horses come in various sizes, from small tree ornaments to larger sculptures displayed around the home.

The feast day of St. Lucia on December 13th is an important part of the Christmas season. Young girls dress in white robes, wearing crowns adorned with candles or electric lights. They form processions, singing traditional songs and bringing light into dark winter nights. This celebration symbolizes the triumph of light over darkness and creates a magical ambiance throughout Swedish homes.




Finland: Himmeli and Christmas Elves


In Finland, Christmas is a magical time of year. Santa Claus, or “Joulupukki,” holds a special place in Finnish Christmas traditions. Families often visit Santa Claus Village in Lapland, where they can meet Santa and his reindeer.

The “Himmeli” is a traditional Finnish ornament made from straw, representing the harvest and fertility. It is often displayed above the dining table or hung on the Christmas tree.

Another Finnish tradition is the “Joulutonttu,” a small elf-like creature believed to protect the home and bring good fortune during Christmas. Additionally, gingerbread houses are a popular holiday treat, with families baking and decorating their own creations.


France: Santon and Advent calendar


In France, the Christmas season is a time of elegance and sophistication, and one of the most cherished decorations is the “santon,” a handcrafted clay figurine used to create elaborate Nativity scenes. These charming figurines depict villagers, shepherds, and animals, and they are often displayed in intricate dioramas that capture the spirit of the Christmas story.

Additionally, the French tradition of “le calendrier de l’Avent,” or Advent calendar, is a beloved way to count down the days until Christmas, with each day revealing a small treat or surprise.



Ireland: Christmas Pudding and Wreaths


In Ireland, Christmas is a time for family gatherings and festive feasts. One of the most iconic Irish traditional Christmas decorations is the wreath, which is traditionally made from holly and ivy.

Christmas pudding is a popular holiday dessert, with families passing down recipes from generation to generation.


Iceland: Christmas Yule Lads and Ornaments


Iceland has its own unique Christmas traditions, a unique traditional Christmas decoration known as the “jólasveinar” or Yule Lads is a popular holiday tradition.

These mischievous little figures, said to be the sons of the giantess Gryla and her husband Leppalúði, are believed to visit children in the weeks leading up to Christmas, leaving small gifts or treats for those who have been good.

The Yule Lads are often depicted in playful and whimsical ornaments, adding a touch of magic and folklore to Icelandic holiday decorations.

Icelandic Christmas decorations often feature ornaments made from lava rock, adding a natural and rustic touch to holiday decor.


christmas tree decorations Traditional Christmas Decorations

Italy: Presepi and Panettone


Italy is known for its vibrant and colorful Christmas traditions, and one of the most beloved decorations is the “presepe,” a Nativity scene featuring intricately carved figures and elaborate settings.

The presepi typically includes figurines of Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus, as well as other characters such as shepherds and animals.

Another popular Italian decoration is the “Befana,” an old woman who brings gifts on the Eve of Epiphany (January 6).


Netherlands: Kerststol, Kerstkrans and Kerstboom


In the Netherlands, Christmas is celebrated alongside the traditional holiday of Sinterklaas, which takes place on December 5th. Dutch Christmas decorations include “kerststol,” a sweet bread filled with dried fruit and marzipan, and “kerstkrans,” a wreath made from cinnamon sticks and oranges.

Additionally, the tradition of the “kerstboom,” or Christmas tree, is a central part of the holiday decor, with families gathering to decorate the tree with colorful ornaments and twinkling lights.


Norway: Advent Stars and Julebord


Norwegian Christmas decorations often feature advent stars, which are paper stars that are hung in windows and illuminated from within.

Another popular Christmas decoration is the “julekurver,” or woven Christmas baskets, which are often filled with treats and small gifts to be shared with family and friends. These intricate baskets are often handmade and are a symbol of the Norwegian tradition of hospitality and generosity during the holiday season.

Additionally, the Norwegian tradition of the “julebukk,” or Christmas goat, is a beloved symbol of the holiday season, often depicted in ornaments and decorations.


Sunbeauty Decorative Star Paper Craft


England: Christmas Crackers and Mistletoe


In England, the traditional Christmas decoration is mistletoe, a plant associated with fertility and good luck.

According to tradition, when someone stands under the mistletoe, they are obliged to share a kiss with another person. This charming tradition adds an element of romance and playfulness to the festive celebrations, making it a popular decoration in doorways and ceilings during Christmas parties and gatherings.

The Christmas cracker is a British invention that adds fun to the holiday table. These decorative paper tubes contain small gifts, jokes, and paper crowns, which are pulled apart with a bang during Christmas dinner.

Christmas cracker caramel shaped brown package with hearts

Sweden: Tomte and Advent Stars


In Sweden, traditional Christmas decorations embrace the concept of “hygge,” creating a cozy and warm atmosphere. Advent candles are an essential part of the Scandinavian Christmas tradition. These candles are lit on each Sunday of Advent, counting down to Christmas.

Another popular Christmas decoration is the “Tomte,” a gnome-like creature that is said to protect homes and farms from evil spirits, is also a popular decoration that brings good luck and cheer. These figures are often made from felt or wool and can be found in various sizes.

Additionally, Swedish homes are often decorated with advent stars, which are paper stars hung in windows and illuminated from within.



Denmark: Christmas Hearts and Nisse


Denmark embraces a minimalist and elegant approach to Christmas decorations. Danish homes feature “julehjerter” or Christmas hearts, which are intricately woven paper ornaments hung on trees or windows. Traditionally, these hearts were crafted with red and white paper and filled with small gifts or sweets.

Today, they come in various colors and patterns, often embellished with glitter or beads. Danish Christmas hearts are hung on trees, garlands, or windows, adding a touch of elegance to holiday decorations. Lighted candles are placed in windowsills, illuminating the streets during the dark winter nights. Danish Christmas plates, depicting festive scenes, are another cherished decoration.

In Denmark, the “Nisse” is a popular Christmas decoration, similar to the Swedish Tomte. These figures are believed to bring good fortune and protect homes and farms.


Russia: Ded Moroz and Matryoshka Dolls


In Russia, the traditional Christmas figure is Ded Moroz, a Santa Claus-like character who brings gifts to children on New Year’s Eve. Additionally, Matryoshka dolls, a set of wooden dolls that fit inside one another, are a popular Christmas decoration.



Canada and United States: Christmas Trees and Stockings


In North America, Christmas traditions are similar between Canada and the United States. Christmas trees and stockings are popular decorations, with families often adorning their homes with lights and ornaments. Additionally, many people exchange gifts on Christmas morning and enjoy a festive meal with family and friends.



Australia: Surfing Santas and Beach Balls


In the Southern Hemisphere, where Christmas falls during the summer months, traditions are slightly different.

The beach plays a significant role in the holiday season. Traditional Christmas decorations often include surfing Santas and beach balls, and many families celebrate by having picnics or barbecues on the beach.


Mexico – poinsettia and Pinatas


Christmas in Mexico is celebrated with vibrant colors and joyful festivities. One prominent decoration is the “poinsettia,” known as “Flor de Nochebuena” or “Christmas Eve Flower.” These bright red flowers symbolize the Star of Bethlehem and are used to decorate homes, churches, and nativity scenes.

Additionally, colorful pinatas are an essential part of Christmas celebrations. Originally used during posadas (processions reenacting Mary and Joseph’s search for shelter), pinatas are now a popular Christmas decoration.

Made of paper and adorned with bright ribbons and designs, these hanging ornaments are filled with candies and small toys. As part of the holiday celebrations, family members take turns blindfolded, trying to break the pinata with a stick. Once broken, the treats inside are shared among everyone, adding a sense of joy and excitement to the Christmas festivities.


Brazil: Firandos and Papai Noel


In Brazil, the Christmas season is a time of joy and celebration, and traditional Christmas decorations often include vibrant and colorful elements. These may include bright and festive paper lanterns, known as “firandos,” which are often hung in windows and doorways to add a touch of holiday cheer.

Papai Noel, the Brazilian version of Santa Claus, is also an essential part of Christmas festivities. Rather than wearing the traditional red suit, Papai Noel dresses in a white outfit to cope with the warm Brazilian climate. Brazilians often decorate their homes with images of Papai Noel, who is believed to bring gifts and joy to children during the holiday season.


Japan: Origami Traditional Christmas Decorations


In Japan, where Christmas is not a traditional holiday, origami decorations have gained popularity during the festive season. Folding paper into delicate shapes such as cranes, stars, or snowflakes is a creative and mindful activity that brings joy to both children and adults. These origami ornaments are often displayed on Christmas trees or used to adorn gift packages.

India: Christmas Paper Stars


In India, particularly in the state of Kerala, paper stars called “pookalams” are a popular traditional Christmas decoration. These intricate ornaments are made by folding and cutting colorful paper into geometric patterns, creating stunning star-shaped designs. Pookalams are hung in windows and doorways, illuminating homes with a warm and festive glow.

As we’ve explored, Christmas decorations are not limited to a single cultural tradition but rather encompass a global tapestry of creativity and symbolism. From Germany’s nutcrackers to India’s paper stars, each country contributes its own unique style and significance to the festive season.




By embracing and appreciating these diverse traditions, we can foster a greater understanding and appreciation for the richness of global holiday celebrations. So this Christmas, consider incorporating some of these traditional ornaments from around the world into your own festive decorations, and let the spirit of unity and diversity shine bright.

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