Holiday Traditions Around the World

Holiday Traditions Around the World Christmas Hanukkah Lunar New Year Kwanzaa

The holidays are finally upon us. As the final days of the year are creeping closer and closer, we must first enjoy a gleeful and harmonious holiday In the United States, we mostly celebrate Christmas with a gift sharing, mistletoes, and a delicious family meal.

However, there are different cultural differences and holiday celebrations shared around the world during the holiday season. Here are some of the holiday traditions celebrated around the world.


Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday that commemorates the historical rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. Often called “The Festival of Lights”, Hanukkah is observed for eight night and days starting on the 25th day on the Hebrew calendar to celebrate the miracle of a night’s worth of oil that lasted for eight nights. On the first day, the holiday begins with the rekindling of the first candle on a traditional Jewish candelabrum with nine branches and candles with each lit candle celebrating a different day.

For eight days, family and friends will gather together to join in a feast with different types and variations of oil-based foods such as sufganiyot, a deep-fried jelly-filled doughnut, and latkes, which is shallow-fried pancake of grated potatoes.


When it comes to Christmas, the British are all about the celebrations. Mince pies are a staple of a British household during Christmastime ever since the thirteenth century. Celebrated as a Christmas treat, Mince Pies are delicious pies filled with minced meat and dried fruits.


In Italy, Christmas is one of the most important holidays on the calendar. Due to the large population of Roman Catholics, Christmas has deep roots within their faith; therefore, there are various celebrations and traditions that has lived for centuries and are still celebrated today.

In Naples, Italy, the streets are often lined up for annual nativity scenes to recreate the birth of baby Jesus while children will gleeful sing joyful carols to others. While other children will wear shepherds’ sandals and hats, while playing songs on shepherds’ pipes.

In other parts of Italy, many families will celebrate with seafood before attending a midnight mass. Afterwards, if it is a cold evening, children and parents alike would enjoy a nice slice of Christmas cake which is a spongy, dry fruit cake before getting settled in for sleep.


A predominately Portuguese language speaking country, Brazil’s Christmas traditions are derived from Portugal including “Papai Noel”, which is the Brazilian name for Ol’ Saint Nick.

On Christmas Eve, Brazilians will celebrate with a grand feast with pork, turkey, ham, salad, and fresh/dried fruits. But, although Brazil are pretty much Portugal’s cousin, the ethnic makeup of Brazil is very diverse; therefore, their traditional holiday meals are also adapted from other parts of the world including Italian Panettone in Sao Paulo, Salted Cod in Rio de Janeiro, and African style foods in Northeastern Brazil.

China and Vietnam

In China, only 1% of the population is Christian, so the biggest holiday is the Lunar New Year. Also known as the “Spring Festival”, Lunar New Year is celebrated on the first day of the lunar calendar. This happens typically in February.

During Lunar New Year, families will dress in traditional Chinese or Vietnamese clothing and gather together for a meal including rice cake, dim sum, braised pork belly, and other traditional dishes. During dinner, older generations will give children and young adults, a red envelope to promote good luck and prosperity for the new year. Afterwards, participants will visit various temples, where firecrackers are often lit and dragon troupes will celebrate the evening.

West African Nations

A popular holiday in many West African nations including Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe celebrate Kwanzaa, which begins on 26th of December until 1st of January. Kwanzaa celebrates African culture and its diaspora. The main principles including unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith.

During the days of Kwanzaa, many families celebrate through decorating their homes in colorful African arts, clothes, and wearing various traditional pictures. Furthermore, families will gather together to feast with traditional recipes including Jolof rice, collard greens, slaw, grits, Cajun catfish, jerk chicken, and more.

Regardless of how traditions are spent during the holiday, there is a common thread of family, food, and celebration. These threads are also woven in the Primary Beginnings philosophy at both locations at Spring Forest and North Hills. To discover the Primary Beginnings difference, call 919.790.6888 (Spring Forest) or 919.785.0303 (North Hills) to schedule your center tour today.