Christmas Eve Traditions Around the World

Every year, there are many traditions, customs, and activities based around Christmas.

While exchanging Christmas gifts is a highlight of the holiday season, what truly makes it the most wonderful time of the year is family gathering together to share some Christmas traditions.

We all can’t wait for Christmas caroling, tasting some home-cooked Christmas cuisines, attending midnight mass, and watching films.

What about Christmas Eve? For many regions and countries around the world, Christmas Eve holds equal importance as Christmas day.


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Here are Christmas traditions that surround the eve of Christmas globally!

Cookies and Milk for Santa

In the United States, setting out treats for Santa on Christmas Eve is a quintessential tradition for many families.

Millions of kids leave a plate of cookies and milk out for Santa to enjoy during his visit and in return leave some presents under the tree and in stockings.

Most families embark on making these cookies on Christmas Eve or a day before. Among the most popular cookies left out for Santa are sugar cookies.

They are cut into festive Christmas shapes and decorated with frosting, candies, or colored sugar.

Christmas Decorations

A good number of households around the world do not decorate for Christmas until it’s Christmas Eve!

During the 18th and 19th centuries, some households would wait until it’s Christmas Eve to walk into the forest and retrieve a Christmas tree.

Decorating on Christmas Eve has been an imperative tradition for quite a long time. Flowers too play a significant role in Christmas decorations.

The beautiful colors of the flowers along with the fresh fragrance spread around to announce the arrival of the big day ahead.

Christmas flowers bring about joy, happiness, and a symbol of hope to all that receives them on Christmas Eve.

Baking Christmas Cookies

Whether you’re looking to make cookies for Santa or intend to lay them out at a family gathering on Christmas, you’ll love to join the millions of families that bake cookies on Christmas Eve.

Among the most popular cookies made include sugar cookies and gingerbread cookies.

For countries such as Greece, Italy, Spain, and Mexico, families have special cookie recipes for the season.

Kids in Mexico can’t wait to taste the luscious Bizcochitos with anise, orange, and cinnamon flavors while those in Spain look forward to the Almendrados on Christmas Eve.

Reading Books, Watching, Telling Stories, and Singing Carols

Among the most popular Christmas Eve tradition in most countries is reading books and watching television.

Don’t be surprised to find a copy of the famous ‘A Visit from St Nicholas’ in all the homes you visit for Christmas.

Others stay up until late watching Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, A Charlie Brown Christmas, Frosty the Snowman, or How-to Grinch Stole Christmas.

A few enjoy staying up a little longer to sing the popular Up on the Housetop, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, or Here Comes Santa Claus.

Some families love to create a caroling tradition. Members sing carols and tell stories to set the scene. Young and old sing solos and duets to welcome the spirit of the Christmas season.

Christmas Shopping

Nothing exceeds the fun feeling of shopping on the Eve of the big day. In China, Christmas Eve is one of the biggest shopping days of the year.

Households enjoy offers and use the time to buy gifts for the big day!

Luscious Special Meal with the Family

Interestingly, most households prepare a special meal for Christmas Eve. For instance, families in Poland enjoy sumptuous meatless dishes while Spanish households lick fingers for their impeccable seafood delicacies.

Get down to a Philippine friend and enjoy a huge feast that includes roast ham and chicken. For our Scandinavian folks, traditional desserts such as Lebkuchen are served along with a huge feast on Eve.

On the other hand, French families enjoy a mouth-watering Le Réveillon de Noel dish.

Stockings on Mantels

Just before they nod off to bed, kids from all over the world will put on their stockings on mantels in high hopes that St. Nick would pass by.

They anticipate the great Santa Claus visit filled with all kinds of goodies for the big day!

You’ll find them glancing up the chimney and out the window to see any movement in the sky.

Once they’re off to bed, parents embark on the big exercise of placing gifts under the tree and signing them ‘From Santa’ or ‘Love Santa’.

Learn More With the Help of Video

Main Points About Christmas Eve Traditions

  1. Christmas eve traditions vary from families, cultures, religions, countries, and individuals.
  2. In the US, many families usually prepare treats for Santa on Christmas eve while In France, families have a special meal called Buche de Noël on Christmas eve. The Buche de Noel is a sponge cake, rolled like a yule log.
  3. On Christmas eve, many Canadians hold a big feast, and some others open their Christmas presents.
  4. In Spain, families have a huge meal together to celebrate Christmas Eve or Nochebuena as they call it.
  5. Many other parts of the globe, Christmas eve is a time for people to get-together for a candlelight Christmas carol.


Christmas Eve traditions vary around the world, depending on culture, heritage, and form of Christianity as well as on the weather.

In some western countries is more of a commercial holiday than a religious one, while in Orthodox countries as well as in many African countries it’s more of a religious holiday rather than a commercial one.

Traditional food can also depend because of heritage and season.

Word Cloud for Christmas Eve Traditions

The following is a collection of the most used terms in this article on Christmas Eve Traditions. This should help in recalling related terms as used in this article at a later stage for you.

Christmas Eve Traditions


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