This year, most children in Compassion’s program won’t attend big Christmas parties that are typically held at their child development centers. But that doesn’t mean they won’t celebrate Jesus’ birthday in other fun ways!
Christmas traditions vary from family to family and culture to culture. Travel the world with us as we explore quirky, wonderful and unique 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) occurs each year in the city of Oaxaca, where people carve oversized radishes into Nativity scenes, with the best ones receiving prizes.
Many Indonesians put up artificial Christmas trees made of plastic. But crafters in Bali create another special type of Indonesian Christmas tree from chicken feathers. These feather trees are exported to countries around the world.
Ethiopians follow the ancient Julian calendar, which means 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, the children believe that Papai Noel enters via the front door and travels via helicopter rather than a reindeer-drawn sleigh.
In Kenya, Santa usually doesn’t arrive with his reindeer — instead he 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 families lighting firecrackers. As the night goes on, sparklers are replaced by large Roman candle displays.
3. The Philippines
The Giant Lantern Festival (Ligligan Parul Sampernandu) happens 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, more than 2 million children living in 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 Christmas generosity from Compassion supporters to millions of children!