Christmas is one of the most celebrated religious festivals in the world. Most people are in the holiday spirit in November itself even though Christmas is still a month away. There are various unique customs and traditions that people follow across the globe on this special day.
When you hear Christmas, the first thing that comes to your mind may not be that it is the day when Jesus was born. Instead, your mind will start displaying things that are associated with Christmas such as Santa Claus, Christmas tree, snow, reindeers, gifts, elves and so much more.
It is not just a Christian festival anymore, it is celebrated and enjoyed by everyone across the globe irrespective of the religion they belong to.
As you might have already understood from the title, this article will tell you which is the first country to welcome Christmas morning and which is the last. Also, we will inform you about the countries where Christmas falls during the summertime.
First Country To Celebrate Christmas
According to the Greenwich Observatory, New Zealand is the first country to have sunrise each day. Therefore, they will be the first ones to welcome Christmas morning.
After the sun rises in New Zealand, it quickly moves across the ocean towards eastern Australia. When it is the time of sunrise in Eastern Australia, the time at major cities across the world is:
New Delhi, India- 12:30 am- Christmas Day, 25th December
Jerusalem, Israel – 10:00 pm – Christmas Eve, 24th December
London, UK- 8:00 pm – Christmas Eve, 24th December
New York, US- 3:00 pm – Christmas Eve, 24th December
Los Angeles, US- 12:00 midday – Christmas Eve, 24th December
Christmas in New Zealand
Christmas traditions in New Zealand and Australia are quite similar. Both countries follow a mix of British and North American traditions. However, unlike Britain and America where it is usually winter during Christmas, New Zealand has this festival during the summer season. And hence, their celebrations are a mix of traditional as well as local traditions.
The New Zealand Christmas tree is called a pōhutukawa that has crimson flowers, often used as a Christmas symbol. People decorate the exterior of their houses with elaborate displays including lights and Christmas motifs such as Santa Claus, reindeers, or the nativity scene.
As per tradition, families gather together for a Christmas lunch. But not just any Christmas meal, New Zealanders like to enjoy and relax outside, mostly doing barbecues on the beach.
It is also an increasingly popular tradition for the people of this country to include local produce of sea-food, cold meats, and salads in their Christmas lunch.
Along with traditional Christmas desserts such as mince pies, Christmas cakes, and plum cakes, New Zealanders also have their own local dessert known as pavlova, topped with fresh fruits.
Christmas themed parades are organized in the country. The most popular one being the Santa Parade in Auckland held during late November. Large amounts of people flock together for this parade which features several floats and marching bands.
Last Country To Celebrate Christmas
The last country to see the sunrise each day is the island of American Samoa. Hence, they become the last ones to see Christmas morning.
When it is the time of sunrise (05:49, 25th December) in American Samoa, the time in major cities across the world is:
New Delhi, India- 10:19 pm- Christmas Day, 25th December
Jerusalem, Israel – 6:49 pm – Christmas Day, 25th December
London, UK- 4:49 pm – Christmas Day, 25th December
New York, US- 11:49 am- Christmas Day, 25th December
Los Angeles, US- 08:49 am- Christmas Day, 25th December
Christmas in American Samoa
Chances are you may have heard of a place called Samoa, but even Americans may be unknown of American Samoa. It is a part of the unincorporated US territory. Samoa and American Samoa were earlier united but were partitioned in the 19th century by Germany and the US.
Christmas traditions on the Island are a mix of local as well as traditional Christmas customs. American Samoa has two distinct seasons, namely dry season (April to September) and wet season (December-March). So, Christmas typically falls during the rainy season of the Island.
Countries That Have Christmas in Summer
Christmas is synonymous with winter imagery. So much so that when we think of Christmas, our minds instantly turn to the North Pole, Santa Claus, Snow, Pine trees, Mistletoe and the list goes on. It is hard to separate the two.
But there are several countries of the world which are on the other side of the hemisphere, precisely southern, in which Christmas falls during the summer season.
It might seem a bit odd to others who have been celebrating Christmas in winter, the way it usually is. But for them, this has given rise to some local Christmas traditions and customs that are unique as well as interesting.
We have already talked about New Zealand having Christmas during its summer season. Now let’s have a look at some other countries.
December is the peak summer season in Australia. Therefore, people prefer to enjoy outside in their lawns and backyard, doing barbecues. Many people prefer a day on the beach to tan or surf. You might even spot a Santa on the beach handing out candies to children. Many outdoor events are also organized for people to celebrate together.
It is an Australian tradition to depict Santa in Australian-style clothing with an Akubra hat, warm clothing, and riding in a ute that is being pulled by kangaroos.
Carols by Candlelight is a popular Christmas tradition that started in Melbourne in 1938 and has since spread to other parts of Australia as well as the world. In this concert-like event, people gather outside on Christmas eve to sing carols by candlelight.
The Adelaide Christmas Pageant is a popular parade in Australia consisting of floats, marching bands, clowns, dancing groups, and various performers. The pageant is organized in early November and attracts a crowd of nearly 400,000 people.
Bolivia is a South American country where Christmas occurs during the summer season. Most people here celebrate Christmas until 6th January (Epiphany). They attend the midnight mass known as ‘Misa de Gallo’ (mass of the roster) and often burst firecrackers after it.
The traditional Christmas meal consists of ‘picana’, a stew/soup made from chicken, beef or pork which is served with potatoes and corn. Salads, roast pork or roast beef, and lots of tropical fruits are also part of the meal.
Gift exchange during Christmas day is not very common, although some people exchange presents during epiphany.
Christmas trees are not very popular but are used in large towns and cities. The nativity scene is put up outside churches and is also part of Christmas decorations among the people.
For the poor and working-class people, Christmas is just another regular day. It is a government rule in Bolivia that the worker/employees will get double or even three times their normal salary in December.
Due to the summer season in South Africa in December, flowers are in full bloom. The two biggest parts of Christmas here are carol singing and the Christmas feast. People go carol singing on Christmas eve and carols by candlelight are also very popular.
People also like to go camping and do outdoorsy things in case the weather is not too hot.
Traditional Christmas meals in South Africa consist of turkey, duck, roast beef, mince pies, suckling pig with yellow rice, and vegetables. For desserts, a traditional Christmas pudding, or a traditional South African dessert called Malva Pudding is consumed. If the weather is too hot, South Africans may prefer to have a barbeque.
Owing to the country’s history with the UK, South Africa has several traditions from there as well. On Christmas afternoon, South Africans prefer visiting their friends and family or might even go for a trip to the countryside.
Christmas traditions and customs in Argentina are a blend of European traditional rituals, mainly from Spain and Italy. However, these traditions have to be changed to adapt to the hot weather of Argentina. On Christmas Eve, there are firework displays in Buenos Aires and other cities.
Cities, main squares, and houses are all decorated with lights, Christmas trees, flowers, and colorful wreaths. It is a tradition in Argentina to decorate the Christmas tree on December 8th as it is the feast day of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary.
Most families enjoy Christmas dinner, typically an outdoor “parrillada” (barbecue). A traditional Christmas dish is ‘vitel tone’, an Italian dish with thin slices of veal in a creamy sauce flavored with tuna and anchovies. Russian salad, tomato salad, and lettuce salad are common side dishes.
For desserts, ‘Panettone’, a loaf with nuts and candied fruits, ‘turron’ (hard nougat), Chocolates, ‘mantecol’ (semi-soft peanut butter nougat), and ice-creams are eaten.
Even though it is hot in Madagascar, their Christmas decorations consist of snow, holly, mistletoe, and robin, none of which exists there.
Most people attend the church on Christmas Eve as well as Christmas day. Various programs and performances by kids are held at the church. After the mass, sweets or biscuits are given to the people.
Most people stay at home and enjoy with their family. Several others organize picnics and parties. The meal normally consists of chicken or pork with rice and a special cake. A special Christmas food is lychee. People eat it so much that the streets are covered with lychee skin.
A common Christmas tradition is people visiting their elderly and other respectable people of their area.
Most of Brazil’s Christmas traditions are similar to Portugal as it ruled over Brazil for many years.
Most Brazilians attend the midnight mass. The church is also held the next day but in the afternoon. Big firework displays and Christmas tree-shaped lights can be seen around big cities and towns.
Secret Santa is quite popular in Brazil. People keep giving small gifts throughout December and then on Christmas, they reveal themselves.
Christmas lunch with friends and family is a common tradition. Some favorite Christmas foods include pork, turkey, ham, salads, fresh and dried fruits.
Christmas is rightfully called ‘the most wonderful time of the year’ in most countries. They have elaborate decorations in their cities and towns and no one feels left out from the festivities.
And if you thought Christmas could only be enjoyed in winter with snow, you’re wrong. The countries celebrating this day in summer have their share of fun too. They make the best out of this day even in the hot weather.
Christmas is just around the corner, if you do not like winter and wish to enjoy this day doing barbecues on the beach, you can visit one of these countries.
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She’s a bibliophile, an artist, and a feminist. Always puts her heart and soul into everything she does. You’ll find her the happiest in the company of a dog rather than fellow humans.