Christmas in other Nations

Rick Noack:

Christmas is one of the most widely celebrated holidays in the world. But it’s also among the most diverse and varies from country to country.

Here are a few traditions WorldViews thinks the U.S. should consider adopting — even though some might seem quite strange to Americans.

In central Europe, many towns set up cozy Christmas villages with mulled wine

Let’s start in Austria, Germany, the Czech Republic and other central European countries. Many towns and cities set up Christmas markets and small Christmas villages that attract visitors and locals alike. They’re typically open from the beginning of December until Dec. 24.

Some of them might remind visitors of small Disneylands, with their stages, merry-go-rounds and other attractions for children. But there’s usually plenty to fascinate adults, too, such as mulled wine, beer and food specialties.

Some Portuguese people open presents twice  

One custom in Portugal would most likely be welcomed by children in the U.S., but maybe not so much by their parents. Some Portuguese open presents twice: First, parents give their children a selection of gifts on Christmas Eve. But the excitement is far from over: The next morning, more gifts await, ready to be opened….

TV used to stop broadcasting from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. in Iceland

According to the Web site WhyChristmas, Iceland used to celebrate by going off the grid — sort of. Between 5 p.m. and 10 p.m., TV broadcasts would be interrupted because everyone was occupied with their evening meals anyway. Iceland, however, only has a population of about 300,000 — that’s about half the size of Baltimore.

In Sweden, half the nation watches Donald Duck on Christmas Eve

Another northern country, Sweden, goes the other way, preferring excessive TV consumption on Christmas Eve. Traditionally, the country’s main TV channel broadcasts a Christmas Disney special called “From All of Us to All of You” at 3 p.m. — and half of the Swedish population tunes in each year.

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than fifty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.