The difference in Christmas tree traditions around the world is quite interesting. There are many types of Christmas trees.
One tends to imagine that everyone celebrates the same way, but that just isn’t so. Differences in culture, climate, and even the financial status of various countries effect how they celebrate their own Christmas traditions. The constant or unifying theme of course is the birth of Jesus, our Savior into the world. The countries are sorted alphabetically for easy reference.
- Brazil has a very large populations of very poor, but among the middle class the Christmas tree is used. In the northern part of Brazil, pine trees are so rare that families use small artificial trees of almost any color. They decorate with handmade ornaments, placing an angel on top. In southern Brazil, where there is an abundance of pine trees, trees are found in many homes. They are decorated with puffs of cotton upon the branches, to imitate snow.. Often the children aren’t allowed to see the tree until it is completed, and the dozens of candles that rest upon it are lit.
- Canada: Christmas tree traditions were brought to Canada just as in the US by German Immigrants. Trees are widely used throughout the country and decorated in much the same manner.
- In Denmark tradition dictates that children are not allowed to see the tree until Christmas Eve.
- Finland: The tree is often not brought in the house until the noon of Christmas Eve. They mostly use handmade Christmas ornaments.
- France: Princess Helen of Mecklenber introduced the Christmas tree to France. The popularity of it is secondary to the nativity. Many French families still prefer using small red candles rather than electric lights.
- Italy: In the home a triangular shelf known as a ceppo is set up. On the lower shelf sits the nativity. The upper shelves are decorated with small gifts, fruits, and candies. Small candles may be attached to the sides and a star at its apex. This is known as the “tree of lights”
- Mexico: The nacimiento is the main display in each family home. Christmas trees, when displayed, come in a variety of forms: a yucca cactus, branches collected and decorated, even giant trees made of poinsettas as shown in the picture to the right.
- In Liberia, The Christmas tree is not a pine tree at all, but rather an oil palm tree that is decorated with bells.
- Across Norway, families walk around the Christmas tree singing Christmas carols.
- In the Philippines, there are many Christmas trees, but only the wealthy can afford them. Much of the population relies on their own ingenuity to create a tree. Using bamboo, branches or other materials, they create quite artistic creations that they decorate with star lanterns and other handmade Christmas ornaments.
- Poland: Late Christmas Eve, after Polish families have there Christmas feast, they spend the evening together around the Christmas tree. They sing carols and tell stories. The use hand- blown glass Christmas ornaments. They also use beautiful ornaments made from eggshells.
- Russia: The Bolsheviks banned the Christmas tree for years. Stalin lifted the ban in 1935and called them New Year’s trees. So the tradition of the Christmas tree persists today, only, it is called the New Year’s tree. Tinsel, small ornaments, and electric lights are used.
- Spain: Nacimientos, nativities are displayed with pride. An increasing number of city dwelers also display a small tree, Often, these are set on an outside balcony.
- Sweden: In addition to the family Christmas tree traditions it is customary to erect a “tree” for the birds also. Large sheathes of grain are attached to a tall pole for their Christmas feast.
- Switzerland: Swiss people decorate with both a Christmas tree and an nativity scene called apurseppen. They love to sing carols around a tree lit with small red candles.As you can see there is a wide variety of Christmas tree traditions around the world.