in the the European Union

in the
Read about how people celebrate Christmas in the other countries of
the European Union
A Christmas Tradition
Silent Night, probably one of the
most sung Christmas songs all
over the world, was written in
Austria. The lyrics were written
by the priest Joseph Mohr and the
music was written by Franz
Xavier Gruber in 1818. It is still,
after almost 200 years, the
Austrians’ most beloved
Christmas song.
The Christmas Weather
At Christmas, the weather varies
depending where you are. In the
mountains, it is snowy and
freezing. In the lower areas, the
temperature stays mostly above
freezing and it usually is cloudy
or rainy.
Listen to an Austrian Christmas Song
Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht:
Traditional Austrian
Christmas Dinner
- Fried carp, roast pork or
Wiener schnitzel
- Potato balls
- Cucumber salad
- Goose or ham
- Weihnachtsbaeckerei:
Austrian Christmas
Say Merry Christmas in Austrian
German: Frohe Weihnachten
Christmas Presents
In Austria, the dressed
Christmas tree is kept under
wraps until the night of
Christmas Eve. Then, the
Christkind (Christ child)
comes with the presents and at
the same time the Christmas
tree is revealed to the children
of the household.
BelgiumBelgiëLa Belgique
A Christmas Tradition
In the Walloon speaking part
of Belgium, Saint Nicholas
actually comes visiting twice.
First on 4th December when
he checks who has been good
and who has been bad. He
returns again on 6th December
and rewards the good with
presents and the bad with
The Christmas Weather
The temperature in Belgium at
Christmas ranges between 16ºC. There is an almost 50
percent chance of rain.
Listen to a Belgian Christmas Song
Nu zijt wellekome:
Traditional Belgian
Christmas Dinner
- Seafood
- Stuffed turkey
- Cougnou; sweet bread in
the form of infant Jesus
- La bûche de Noël;
Christmas log
Say Merry Christmas in Flemish:
Vrolijk Kerstfeest
Christmas Presents
At Christmas time, Belgium can be
divided into French, Walloon, and
Dutch parts. The traditions vary a
little between these three. In the
Northern Dutch part, Sinterklaas
arrives and gives presents on 6th
December. Saint Nicholas might be
arriving at the same time in the
Southern French and Walloon part.
Whether or not children receive
presents at Christmas usually
depends on the family tradition.
A Christmas Tradition
In Bulgaria, they believe
that Mary gave birth to
Jesus on Christmas Eve,
though she did not
announce the birth until
Christmas Day. That is
why Christmas Eve is
celebrated more in
Bulgaria than Christmas
The Christmas Weather
In Bulgaria, the temperature at
Christmas is around freezing
point. Snow is not uncommon at
Listen to a Bulgarian Christmas Song
Коледарска Песен,
Traditional Bulgarian
Christmas Dinner
- An odd number of
dishes, at least seven.
Including for example:
- Walnuts and other kinds
of nuts
- Beans
- Cabbage
- Dried plums
- Banitza: a traditional
pastry filled with cheese,
vegetables or meat
Say Merry Christmas in Bulgarian:
Vesela Koleda
Christmas Presents
Presents from Santa are
quite a new tradition in
Bulgaria. It started with
Grandfather Frost from
Russia during the
communist reign. These
days, Bulgaria is more
westernized. Santa brings
the presents at night and
children open them on the
morning of Christmas Day.
A Christmas Tradition
Instead of nice little elves,
Cyprus has at Christmastime
a small creature called the
Kalikantzari. They are
mischievous and sometimes
mean spirited. They prey
upon people only during the
12 days of Christmas from
25th December to 6th
The Christmas Weather
The temperature in Cyprus
during Christmas can range
between 10-20ºC. It can be
like a nice summer’s day or
rainy and dreary.
Listen to a Cypriot Christmas Song
Traditional Cypriot
Christmas Dinner
- Stuffed turkey, chicken
or roast lamb
- Christopsomo; Christ
- Melomakarona; Cypriot
- Kourambiedes; Greek
Say Merry Christmas in Cypriot Greek:
Eftihismena Christougenna
Christmas Presents
The children in Cyprus
receive their presents on
New Year’s Day and not at
Christmas. Cyprus’
equivalent to Santa is AiVasilis. Ai-Vasilis comes to
their homes on the night
between New Year’s Eve
and Day and leaves the
presents under the
Christmas tree.
Czech RepublicČeská Republika
A Christmas Tradition
There are a lot of customs and
superstitions when it comes to the
Czechs’ Christmas dinner. Some
of which are:
- No lights should be lit until the
first star shows. When it does, it
is time for dinner.
- The dinner table should be set
for an even number of guests. If
you are not an even number, an
extra place is set.
The Christmas Weather
The Czech Republic usually
has a temperature below
freezing at Christmas. They
usually also have snow.
Listen to a Czech Christmas Song
Nesem vám noviny:
Traditional Czech
Christmas Dinner
- Vánoční ybí polévka;
Christmas fish soup
- Fried carp
- Potato salad
- Vánoční cukroví;
Christmas cookies
- Fruitcake
- Gingerbread
Say Merry Christmas in Czech:
Vesele Vanoce
Christmas Presents
In the Czech Republic,
Christmas presents are
exchanged on what they call
Štědrý den; Generous Day,
which is the same day as
Christmas Eve. The presents
are brought by Ježíšek;
Baby Jesus and not Santa.
A Christmas Tradition
In Denmark, they
celebarate the Luciadag on
13th December. The
Luciadag is celebrated in
honour of St. Lucia.
Children dress up and sing
and walk in procession. In
school, one class is often
responsible for that year’s
Lucia procession.
The Christmas Weather
At Christmas, the
temperature rarely goes
below freezing.
Listen to a Danish Christmas Song
Til Julebal i Nisseland
Traditional Danish
Christmas Dinner
- Roast duck, roast
pork or roast goose
with potatoes and
- ‘Ris a la made’ (Rice
made with whipped
cream and chopped
Say Merry Christmas in Danish:
God Jul or Glædelig Jul
Christmas Presents
In Denmark, the
Christmas presents are
given on Christmas Eve
after the Christmas
dinner and after singing
and dancing around the
Christmas tree.
A Christmas Tradition
In Estonia, it is
customary to spend
some time in the sauna
at Christmas Eve. This
normally occurs when
all the preparations for
the Christmas Eve
dinner are finished and
before the celebrations
The Christmas Weather
The temperature in Estonia is
around -5 ºC - -2ºC at
Christmas. They often believe
that it will snow, but it rarely
Listen to an Estonian Christmas Song
Tiliseb tiliseb aisakell:
Traditional Estonian
Christmas Dinner
- Pork with sauerkraut
- Cooked or baked
- Blood sausage
- Potato salad with
- Pâté
- Gingerbread
- Marzipan
Say Merry Christmas in Estonian:
Häid jõule
Christmas Presents
On Christmas Eve, Estonian
children are visited by
Jõuluvana; Old Man
Christmas. Before they
receive their presents, they
have to sing or recite a
Christmas poem.
A Christmas Tradition
In Finland, they have a
custom that every Christmas
Eve they hold The
Declaration of Peace. It is
broadcasted via radio and
television. This tradition has
been going on since the
Middle Ages. The only
exception was during the
Winter War in 1939.
The Christmas Weather
At Christmas, snow in northern
Finland is pretty much
guaranteed. In the South, the
chance for snow at this time is
around 50 percent.
Listen to a Finnish Christmas Song
Tonttu; Christmas gnome
Traditional Finnish
Christmas Dinner
- Christmas ham
- Turkey
- Pickled herring
- Lutefisk
- Liver casserole
- Bread and different
- Gravlax: raw salmon
- Rice pudding
Say Merry Christmas in Finnish:
Hyvää Joulua
Christmas Presents
In Finland, Christmas
presents are usually
delivered by Santa Claus
after the Christmas Eve
dinner. Sometimes, Santa
has one of his helper elves
with him to help him
distribute the presents.
A Christmas Tradition
The French Noël is
mostly centred on the
religious part of
Christmas. The birth of
Jesus is the focus and
you can find the Nativity
Scene in almost every
The Christmas Weather
At Christmas, it is often
cold and snowy.
Sometimes, though, it is a
bit warmer.
Listen to a French Christmas Song
Il est né le Divin Enfant:
Traditional French
Christmas Dinner
- Turkey with chestnuts
- La bûche de Noël (See
picture to the left)
Say Merry Christmas in French:
Joyeux Noël
Christmas Presents
In France, children put their shoes
beneath the fire place or under the
Christmas tree. Père Noël (Father
Christmas) then put presents in
them on the night between 24th
and 25th.
A Christmas Tradition
The Christmas tree
actually originates from
Germany. The tradition
started sometime in the
Renaissance era.
Nobody really knows
why they started with
the tradition in the first
The Christmas Weather
At Christmas in Germany the
temperature is often around
freezing. Snow is uncommon at
Christmas, unless you are in the
higher regions
Listen to a German Christmas Song
O Tannenbaum:
Traditional German
Christmas Dinner
- Weisswurst, (sausages)
- Kartoffelsalat (potato
- Roasted goose
- Carp
-Christstollen, (fruit cake)
Say Merry Christmas in German:
Frohe Weihnachten
Christmas Presents
In Germany, the presents are
put under the Christmas tree
on the 24th December by the
Christkind. The Christkind
was made up by Martin
Luther to replace Santa Claus.
It is portrayed as a small child
with angel wings
A Christmas Tradition
As in many of the other
eastern European
countries, Greek
Christmas starts with a
40 day fast. This means
that many people do not
eat meat or other
products relating to
animals, like milk,
cheese and eggs.
The Christmas Weather
The temperature in Greece at
Christmas usually lies around
15ºC, though it is much colder
at night. There is usually snow
in the mountains.
Listen to a Greek Christmas Song
Καλήν ηµέραν, άρχοντες:
Traditional Greek
Christmas Dinner
- Egg-lemon, chicken &
rice soup
- Yiaprakia; stuffed
-Christopsom: Christmas
- Turkey, pork or lamb
- Sesame baklava
Say Merry Christmas in Greek:
Kala Xristougenna
Christmas Presents
In Greece, they exchange
gifts on New Year’s Day
instead of Christmas Eve
or Day. They call this day
St. Basil’s Day. St Basil is
a Catholic and orthodox
saint and according to
Greek tradition, Basil’s
name was given to Father
A Christmas Tradition
The biggest Christmas tradition in
Hungary is what is called the
Betlehemezés (Bethlehem play).
Children dress up as Mary,
Joseph, shepherds and wise men
and make models of the Nativity
Scene. They then walk around
town performing the Christmas
story in front of people’s houses,
often receiving sweets as a thank
The Christmas Weather
These days, it is rare to see
snow in Hungary during the
holidays in most of the country.
In the Highlands, snow during
Christmas is more common.
Listen to a Hungarian Christmas Song
Kis karácsony nagy karácsony:
Traditional Hungarian
Christmas Dinner
- Fish soup
- Turkey
- Beigli: brioche with
walnut and poppy seed.
- Stuffed cabbage
- Fried fish
The Beigli
Say Merry Christmas in Hungarian:
Kellemes Karácsonyi
Christmas Presents
In Hungary, children receive
gifts both on Saint Nicholas
Day, the 6th December, and
on Christmas Eve. On Saint
Nicholas Day, though,
children only receive a few
smaller gifts and sweets.
A Christmas Tradition
In Ireland, the Christmas
season starts officially on
8th December, which is the
Feast of the Immaculate
Conception. This day is
announced a school
holiday where many
people are off from school
and work. On this day,
most people catch up on
their Christmas shopping.
The Christmas Weather
In Ireland, the Christmas
temperature rarely goes
below 10ºC. It often rains,
but usually not all day.
Listen to an Irish Christmas Song
Once in Royal David’s City:
Traditional Irish
Christmas Dinner
- Turkey
- Stuffing
- Ham
- Brussels sprouts
- Roast potatoes
- Various vegetables
- Cranberry sauce
- Christmas pudding
Say Merry Christmas in Irish:
Nollaig Shona Dhuit
Christmas Presents
In Ireland, Christmas
presents are left under the
tree by Santa during the
night and the presents are
opened on the morning of
Christmas Day.
A Christmas Tradition
On the eve of January 6th
the Good Witch, La
Befana, comes to Italy
on her broomstick. She
rewards good children
with sweets and bad
children with charcoal or
bags of ashes.
The Christmas Weather
There is a big difference in the
Christmas temperature in Italy due
to the country being so long. In the
North, it is usually snowy and
freezing and in the South it is
around 15ºC.
Listen to an Italian Christmas Song
Tu scendi dalle stele:
Traditional Italian
Christmas Dinner
- Panettone; sweet bread
- Pandoro: sweet yeast
- Soup with tortellini or
ravioli and meat
- Filled poultry (northern
- Fried eel (southern Italy)
Say Merry Christmas in Italian:
Buon Natale
Christmas Presents
Whether they open
Christmas presents on
Christmas Eve or
Christmas Day varies
from region to region in
Italy. It is either Santa
Claus or the Baby Jesus
who delivers the
A Christmas Tradition
Latvian Christmas is
closely linked to the old
Winter Solstice festival.
These celebrations were
held long before
Christmas was celebrated.
When Christianity arrived
in Latvia, they just mixed
the two traditions together.
The Christmas Weather
In Latvia at Christmas, the
temperature rarely gets
above freezing.
Sometimes there is snow.
Listen to a Latvian Christmas Song
Ai nama mamina:
Traditional Latvian
Christmas Dinner
- Boiled brown peas with
- Fried meat
- Roast pork with sautéed
- Carp
- Blood sausage
- Potatoes and carrots
Say Merry Christmas in Latvian:
Priecigus Ziemassvetkus
Christmas Presents
Father Christmas arrives
on Christmas Eve in
Latvia to deliver presents.
But only to the good
children, the bad ones
only receive sticks. In
Latvia, Father Christmas
is usually dressed in grey
and not red.
A Christmas Tradition
Lithuania has many
superstitions connected to
Christmas Eve. If it is a starry
night after supper, the next year
will be a good year. If it snows
after supper, the cows will give
lots of milk. The animals can
actually speak human language
on Christmas night, though not
everyone understands them…
The Christmas Weather
The temperature at
Christmas lies around
freezing point. It is often
cloudy and foggy.
Listen to a Lithuanian Christmas Song
Stebuklu prazydes:
Traditional Lithuanian
Christmas Dinner
- Cold herring soup
- Mushroom filled
- Different kinds of fish
- Boiled or baked potatoes
- Sauerkraut
- Poppy seed milk
- Cranberry pudding
Mushroom-filled dumplings
Say Merry Christmas in Lithuanian:
Linksmu Kaledu
Christmas Presents
In Lithuania, the
Christmas Man arrives on
Christmas Eve and
distributes Christmas
presents to everyone in the
A Christmas Tradition
The weeks before Christmas
are very vibrant in
Luxembourg. Everyday
there are Christmas markets,
entertainment and other fun
Christmas stuff. All this
makes Luxembourg a very
good place to be if you want
a little Christmas spirit.
The Christmas Weather
Luxembourg in the winter is
often snow, chilly and dry,
which often gives them
beautiful Christmas weather.
Listen to a Luxemburgish Christmas Song
An der grousser Hellger Nuecht:
Traditional Luxemburgish
Christmas Dinner
- Black pudding
- Hare or turkey
- Venison
- Bûche de Noël: Chocolate
- Stollen: fruit rum cake
Say Merry Christmas in
Luxemburgish: Schéi Krëschtdeeg
Christmas Presents
At Christmas in
Luxembourg, either Baby
Jesus or Santa Claus can
bring the presents on
Christmas Eve. The
traditions vary from family
to family. Most children are
visited by Saint Nicholas on
6th December.
A Christmas Tradition
In Malta, they have a tradition
called ‘the preaching of the
child’. A boy or girl aged 7-10
holds the sermon at the
Christmas midnight mass
instead of a priest. The
sermon tells the story of the
birth of Jesus Christ.
The Christmas Weather
The Christmas weather in
Malta is usually quite
warm and sunny. And
they NEVER have
Listen to a Maltese Christmas Song
Ninni la tibkix izjed:
Traditional Maltese
Christmas Dinner
- Turkey
- Mince pie
- Puddings
- Ring cakes made with
- Italian fruit bread
Honey Rings
Say Merry Christmas in Maltese:
Il-Milied It-Tajjeb
Christmas Presents
Christmas presents in
Malta are usually
received on the evening
of Christmas Eve.
Sometime Santa Claus
brings the presents
himself, if he is not too
A Christmas Tradition
During Sinterklaas, kids often
dress up as Sinterklaas’ helper;
Swarte Piete. When Sinterklaas
arrives on his steam boat,
Swarte Piete is there with him
and throws sweets and
peperrnoten cookies, to the
people. People in the
Netherlands continue this
tradition even though it is called
controversial by some, since
Swarte Piete is said to be
Sinterklaas’ black slave.
The Christmas Weather
In the Netherlands at
Christmas the temperature is
almost always above freezing,
and December is their rainiest
month of the year.
Listen to a Dutch Christmas Song
Sinterklass Kapoentje:
Traditional Dutch
Christmas Dinner
- Gourmet: Chopped food
fried at the table.
This Includes:
- Meat
- Fish
- Shrimp
- Omelette
- Vegetable
- Salad
- Sauces
- Fruit
Say Merry Christmas in Dutch:
Vrolijk Kerstfeest
Christmas Presents
Even though they have Santa in the
Netherlands, the most famous gift
bringer is Sinterklaas. Sinterklaas
arrives on a steamboat on the canal
in Amsterdam the last Saturday in
November. On 5th December,
children put their shoes next to the
fireplace and fill them with hay and
carrots for Sinterklaas’ horse. The
next day, the shoes are filled with
Szopka: The Polish Crib
A Christmas Tradition
In Poland, it is tradition to leave a
place at the table free as a sign of
their unity with the deceased from
their families, as well as of their
willingness to welcome every
lonely person with open arms.
The Christmas Weather
In Poland, it is usually
really cold and snowy at
Listen to a Polish Christmas song
Lulajze Jezuniu:
Traditional Polish
Christmas Dinner
- Main Course is
fish, which is
prepared in many
different ways
- Red Borsch with
- Mushroom soup
-Noodles with poppy
-Cooked cabbage
with mushrooms
Say Merry Christmas in Polish:
Wesołych świąt
Christmas Presents
In Poland, children open
their Christmas presents
after the big Christmas
meal on Christmas Eve.
The presents lie under the
Christmas tree where
Santa, of course, has
placed them.
A Christmas Tradition
Like in many other
countries, the people in
Portugal go to Midnight
Mass. After the mass, it
is customary to go home
and share midnight
supper with your family.
The Christmas Weather
The temperature in
Portugal during Christmas
ranges between +5 ºC +15ºC during the day.
Listen to a Portuguese Christmas Song
Entrai, pastores, Entrai:
Traditional Portuguese
Christmas Dinner
- Codfish
- Roasted goat or lamb
- Boiled octopus
- Potatoes
- Cabbage
- Eggs
- Bolo Rei; decorated fruit
Bolo Rei
Say Merry Christmas in Portuguese:
Felis Natal
Christmas Presents
In Portugal, the most
common tradition is that
Santa Claus brings the
Christmas presents. Some,
though, still have the old
traditions that Baby Jesus
delivers the presents. The
presents are opened either
after midnight or early
Christmas Day morning.
A Christmas Tradition
According to Romanian
tradition, the Christmas
tree represents the source
of life. The fir tree is
supposed to be the biggest
possible and all the family
members have to take part
in decorating it.
The Christmas Weather
There is often snow in
Romania at Christmas,
especially up in the
Listen to a Romanian Christmas Song
Deschide uşa creştine:
Traditional Romanian
Christmas Dinner
- Dishes of pork
- Pork jelly
- Forcemeat rolls of
- Roast
- Soup
Say Merry Christmas in Romanian:
Crâciun Fericit
Christmas Presents
Christmas presents are
brought by the
Romanian equivalent
of Santa; Mos
Craciun, on Christmas
A Christmas Tradition
On Christmas Eve after
supper, the jaslickari,
star carollers, go from
house to house and sing.
They are usually boys
dressed as the three
kings, shepherds and an
angel carrying a star on
a pole.
The Christmas Weather
The temperature at
Christmas in Slovakia can
range between -5 ºC to
Listen to a Slovakian Christmas Song
Pastieri, pastieri, hore vstaňte:
Traditional Slovakian
Christmas Dinner
- Cabbage soup with
mushroom and sausage
- Carp or other fish
- Potato salad
- Oplátky; thin waffles
with honey or garlic
- Opekance; poppy seed
Say Merry Christmas in Slovakian:
Vesele Vianoce
Christmas Presents
The Baby Jesus brings
presents to the Slovakian
children on Christmas
Eve and puts them under
the Christmas tree. The
children open the
presents the same day.
A Christmas Tradition
In Slovenia the first week of
December is the judgement day
for the children. That is when the
Krampus comes and frightens the
children into behaving well. He
often comes at the same time as
Saint Nicholas, and Saint
Nicholas rewards those who are
good with presents.
The Christmas Weather
The temperature in
Slovenia ranges between
-5ºC to +5ºC. It is usually
snowy in the mountains.
Listen to a Slovenian Christmas Song
Bela Snežinka:
Traditional Slovenian
Christmas Dinner
- Pork and turkey
- Different kinds of
smoked meats
- Potica; nut bread
- Sarkelj: raisin cake
Say Merry Christmas in Slovenian:
Vesel Božič
Christmas Presents
Children in Slovenia can
receive Christmas presents
from four different sources
around Christmas. Saint
Nicholas arrives on 6th
December, Santa Claus or
Baby Jesus arrive on
Christmas Eve or Day and
Father Frost visits at New
Father Frost
A Christmas Tradition
In Spain, they have a
tradition called Hogueras,
which means bonfires.
People light small fires and
jump over them. This is
meant to protect them
against illness.
The Christmas Weather
The temperature at Christmas
in Spain is around 10ºC. It is
often dry, but sometime the
rain is very heavy .
Listen to a Spanish Christmas Song
Arre Borriquito:
Traditional Spanish
Christmas Dinner
- Jamón; dry-cured ham
- Roasted turkey or lamb
- Seafood
- Fried potatoes
- White asparagus
- Mixed salad
- Turrón; sweets
- King cake
Spanish Christmas Sweets
Say Merry Christmas in Spanish:
¡Feliz Navidad!
Christmas Presents
In Spain, children might
receive a small number of
presents on Christmas Day
from Santa. Their real gift
giving day is the 6th January
when the children leave their
shoes out on the doorstep and
hope that the three wise men
give them some presents.
A Christmas Tradition
One Swedish tradition since
1960 is to watch Karl-Bertil
Johnsson’s “Christmas
Eve”. Karl-Bertil has Robin
Hood as his hero and
decides to take from the rich
and give to the poor during
The Christmas Weather
At Christmas, the normal
temperature is around 0°C +5°C. On rare occasions, there
is actually snow…
Listen to a Swedish Christmas Song
Nu tändas tusen juleljus:
Traditional Swedish
Christmas Dinner
- Christmas ham
- Pickled herring
- Beetroot salad
- Meatballs
- Prince sausage
- Dip in the pot: bread
dipped in broth
- Red and brown cabbage
- Bread and cheese
- Christmas sausage
Say Merry Christmas in Swedish:
God Jul
Christmas Presents
In Sweden, it is typical that Santa arrives
on the evening on the 24th. Santa usually
stays and hands out all presents or if he is
in a hurry, which is likely on Christmas
eve, he just hands out a few from his bag
to each person in the family.
Listen how to pronounce Merry Christmas in
the different languages:
Austrian German:
Belgian Flemish:|nl|Merr
Cypriot Greek:
Netherlands’ Dutch:|nl|Merr