Advent and Christmas Around the World

In the Catholic Church, we have the wonderful privilege of sharing a faith with our brothers and sisters in Christ all over the world. As the Church has developed and grown in each region, beautiful traditions have arisen that glorify God in a way that represents the culture of that region. You’ve probably heard of Advent wreaths, Advent calendars, Christmas trees, and other similar traditions. But did you know about these practices of Catholics around the world?

Germany: Knocking Nights

On Thursday nights during Advent, children in southern Germany practice a tradition similar to the American Halloween. They dress up in costumes and go door to door, reciting rhymes and making noises, and receive treats at each house.

China: Paper Lanterns

Paper Lanterns | Text: 'China paper lanterns'

Although less than one percent of China’s population is Catholic, the Catholics who live in China have developed unique Advent and Christmas traditions. During Advent, Chinese Catholics decorate their homes with festive paper lanterns.

Girls dressed in white with lamps | Text: Scandinavia St. Lucy's Day

Scandinavia & Italy: St. Lucy's Day

The feast day of St. Lucy is December 13, which falls during Advent. On this day, in Italy and in Scandinavian countries, young girls often dress up as this saint of light. They wear crowns with candles and present treats to their families, who then sing hymns together.

People in costume as Mary and Joseph, onlookers, and a donkey | Text: 'Mexico Las Posadas'Mexico: Las Posadas

For the nine days before Christmas, Mexican Catholics perform a reenactment of the journey of Mary and Joseph leading up to the birth of Jesus. Festivities often include a procession, music, costumes, and live animals, and each day includes a Mass.

Blue roller skates with red, yellow, and orange stripes | Text: 'Venezuela roller skating'Venezuela: Roller skates

Catholics all over the world go to Mass during the Christmas season. But in Venezuela’s capital city, Caracas, they do it in style. In the days leading up to Christmas, many people in Caracas travel to church on roller skates.


Advent and Christmas Around the World