This month, our 6,800 local church partners in 25 developing countries are having joyful Christmas celebrations. Many of the children, staff and volunteers dress up and participate in performances. There’s dancing and singing and animals and acting! It’s a huge family affair.
While not everyone celebrates the birth of Jesus this time of year like we do, Christmas traditions vary from family to family as well as culture to culture! Travel the world with us as we explore unique, quirky and wonderful Christmas traditions across the globe!
On Christmas Eve in Haiti, children place their newly cleaned shoes, filled with straw, under the tree on the porch. They hope that Santa (called Tonton Nwèl) will remove the straw and put presents in and around the shoes.
The Night of the Radishes (Noche de Rábanos in Spanish) is an annual event held in the city of Oaxaca, Mexico, where people carve oversized radishes into nativity scenes, with the best ones receiving prizes.
Christmas trees in Indonesia are normally artificial ones made of plastic. But another special type of Indonesian Christmas tree is made from chicken feathers, handmade by the people of Bali. These feather trees are exported to countries around the world.
Ethiopians follow the ancient Julian calendar, which means that they celebrate Christmas on Jan. 7. Families dress in white garments called shammas that they wear to Christmas services.
Children in Brazil receive gifts from Papai Noel on Christmas Eve. With no use for chimneys in the tropical climate, they believe Papai Noel enters via the front door, and travels via helicopter rather than a reindeer-drawn sleigh.
In Kenya, Santa doesn’t arrive with his reindeer but instead rolls into town on an SUV, camel or a bike.
4. El Salvador
There is no such thing as a “silent night” during Christmas in El Salvador! The streets are filled with children burning firecrackers, and as the night goes on the sparklers move on to large Roman candle displays.
3. The Philippines
The Giant Lantern Festival (Ligligan Parul Sampernandu) is held each year on the Saturday before Christmas Eve in the city of San Fernando – the “Christmas Capital of the Philippines.” Eleven villages take part in the festival and competition is fierce as everyone pitches in trying to build the most elaborate lantern.
Bolivians celebrate Misa del Gallo (“Mass of the Rooster”) on Christmas Eve, with people bringing roosters to midnight mass to symbolize the belief that a rooster was the first animal to announce the birth of Jesus Christ.
1. 25 Countries Spanning the Globe
All around the world this month, 1.8 million children living in extreme poverty will receive a gift. A gift from someone that says, “I see you. You are loved.” We think it’s the most unique family tradition of all. A simultaneous outpouring of generosity at Christmas from sponsors and donors from dozens of countries to millions of children!