Christmas Traditions Around the World – How Do You Celebrate the Season?

“Dashing through the snow, In a one-horse open sleigh. O’er the fields we go, laughing all the way. Bells on bob tails ring, making spirits bright. What fun it is to laugh and sing a sleighing song tonight.”

The familiar lyrics don’t quite ‘ring a bell’ in the South African context, where Christmas is more about braais, sun and sand!

In this blog post, we look at Christmas traditions around the world, and how they differ to how your family may celebrate the season. We also reveal some summer of Dis-Chem’s best bursary-building deals for the South African festive season.

A big ol’ bucket for Christmas?

Since the Christian population of Japan is relatively small, Christmas remains largely a novelty, with some families observing secular traditions like gift-giving and light displays. However, a new tradition has emerged on Christmas day in recent years – a festive feast of take-out fried chicken!

A clean sweep

In Norway, many people hide their brooms in the safest place in the house on Christmas Eve. This tradition dates back centuries to when people believed that witches came out on Christmas Eve looking for brooms to ride on.

Blades of glory

In Caracas, Venezuela, the city’s residents head to church in the early morning – on roller skates! This unique tradition has become so popular that roads across the city are closed on Christmas so that people can skate to church in safety.

Light up your life

In Colombia, the start of the Christmas season is marked with Día de las Velitas, Little Candles’ Day. In honour of the Virgin Mary, people place candles and paper lanterns in their front gardens, balconies and windows. This tradition has grown over the years, and entire towns are now lit up with elaborate lighting displays.

All about the almond

A traditional Christmas morning breakfast for Finish families is a porridge made of rice and milk topped with butter and cinnamon. There’s one almond added to the porridge, and whoever finds it wins!

Merry at midnight

Portuguese and Brazilian families celebrate with a late dinner on Christmas Eve. As the clock strikes midnight, the exchange gifts and Christmas greetings before going to Midnight Mass. Here, they meet with neighbours and friends to wish them well for the holiday season. The service is often followed by a fireworks display in the town square.

Does your family have any unique traditions? We’d love to hear about them on our Facebook page. The best story posted before 29 February 2020 wins a 500 Education Time Point (1 ETP = R1; 500 ETPs = R500!) bursary boost! T’s & C’s apply.

However your family may celebrate the season (or even if you don’t at all), we’re bringing some festive bursary builders your way! Toys, chocolates and pampering treats are part of many South African families’ festive traditions… here’s where to find them:

Exclusive School-Days summer deals at Dis-Chem

Head to Dis-Chem this December for great deals on gifts that help you build your School-Days bursary to pay towards your family’s education fees. Swipe your Dis-Chem card to get these bursary building benefits:

Get 20 ETPs for toys

Buy two or more children’s toys in the same transaction and get 20 ETPs (=R20) added to your School-Days bursary.*

Get 20 ETPs for gift sets

Buy two or more Gift Sets (Beauty & Personal Care) in the same transaction and get 20 ETPs (=R20) added to your School-Days bursary.*

PLUS – the first 100 members to buy two or more toys / two or more Gift Sets get 100 ETPs (=R100) added to their bursaries instead of 20!

Get 10 ETPs for LINDOR

Buy two LINDOR Cornet Milk 200g in the same transaction before 31 December 2019 and get 10 ETPs (=R10) added to your School-Days bursary. If you buy four boxes in the same transaction, you get 20 ETPs… buy six and get 30, etc.

As an added bonus, you get an entry to win 200 days – a whole year – of school fees with every transaction.

*These offers are limited to the first 2,500 members and are valid until 31 Dec. T’s & C’s apply.

Not a School-Days member yet? It’s easy to join online today.

Don’t have a Dis-Chem Loyalty Benefit card? Get one at any Dis-Chem store or download the Dis-Chem app on the App Store or Google Play for a digital card.


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