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What are family Christmas traditions? (+ examples from around the world)

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Christmas is usually regarded as a time for family. Having traditions in place makes it an extra special time of the year. Family Christmas traditions are events or activities that families partake in every Christmas when they get together. It can be anything from a small action that everyone in the family takes part in to a large event where extended family are welcome too.

The point is to make memories.

Read more: Family traditions You Can Easily Start Today

What are some family christmas traditions?

The most common family christmas tradition globally is Christmas lunch or christmas dinner but even within that, more traditions can be created. Many people continue to send out Christmas cards although in this digital age, you would expect that there would be a complete switch over to texts, phone calls or video calls to send Season’s greetings. That is because sending out Christmas cards is a tradition for some people that they will not let technology break. 

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Elf on the Shelf is another apparently common Christmas family tradition that I only recently became aware of myself. Then there are those families who will always let their little ones leave some milk and cookies out for Santa on Christmas Eve. That particular one may be considered a typically American Christmas tradition.

Read more: The Christmas family tradition of exchanging gifts – Family Gift exchange ideas for special occasions

Christmas holiday traditions around the world

Around the globe, societies have created their own, sometimes unusual, family christmas traditions. As strange as some of these christmas traditions may sound to you, they give families in these societies a different kind of Christmas experience from the rest of the world. I bet the uniqueness of their experiences help them to bond in a special way.

Central Europe

For example, in Austria, Northern Italy, Croatia and some other Central European regions, instead of expecting Santa, a horrible looking creature called Krampus is said to be out on the hunt for children who have not been so nice throughout the year. Now, if yourself and your family are Halloween-lovers, you are likely to find this an intriguing and exciting twist. You might find yourself wishing you could be a part of this tradition. 


You might find this a funny family christmas tradition. Apparently, in Tokyo, a KFC dinner is a traditional Christmas dinner. To do it right, you must have the original recipe chicken with a glass of wine. Most people will go on Christmas Eve. The demand is so high that KFC Japan is preparing for Christmas dinners throughout the year every year!

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Caracas, Venezuela 

On the list of what you may consider weird christmas traditions is this one from Caracas. A Caracas Christmas has everyone roller skating to church early in the morning. The roads are even closed for more than a week to make for a safe roller skating experience as Christmas is held every morning from the 16th to 24th. As you roll along on your skates, you may also be found tugging on a piece of string tied around a child’s big toe. This may be the most unique of all the Christmas traditions I have heard of. 

In some parts of the world that celebrate Christmas now, celebrating is a relatively new occurence. 


Many years ago (400+), scottish workers were encouraged to work on Christmas Day instead of celebrating. It was not until 1958 that Christmas Day became an official holiday in Scotland. Scottish christmas traditions have not had that many years to form. 

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Looking for a christmas tradition you can start with your baby? 

If you have a baby or toddler you would like to start a family Christmas tradition with, you should make sure the tradition(s) you choose ticks off the following criteria. Christmas traditions to adopt when you have a baby or toddler should be:

  1. Healthy
  2. Safe
  3. Not easily outgrown
  4. One that at least most people in the family will enjoy too

What are your family christmas traditions?

Which of the above examples from around the world do you think you would enjoy the most?

Do you have stories of different christmas traditions you’ve enjoyed as a family? Share below!

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9 thoughts on “What are family Christmas traditions? (+ examples from around the world)”

  1. Very interesting. Thank you. I was aware of the tradition in Japan – started when the first KFC franchisee falsely advertised that Americans always ate KFC for Christmas as a way of promoting sales. The Caracas tradition is humorous.

    1. Kin Unplugged

      thanks for stopping by and shedding some more light on that!

  2. I want to add my vote for the KFC tradition! 😀

  3. Angelika

    Very interesting about Japan and their traditions! I’m from Central Europe but we we’ve never heard of Krampus! Sounds scary lol!

  4. Elf on the shelf is definitely a tradition in this house! It’s annoying for me but the kids love it 😉

  5. It was nice to see your take on how people around the world celebrate the Xmas holiday in their own ways.

  6. Loved reading about Christmas traditions around the world. Though I had heard about Japanese KFC tradition.

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