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25 Christmas Traditions From Around the World

How will your sponsored child be celebrating this year?


Christmas traditions to make you feel festive already!

The greatest gift at Christmas is the love of Jesus. And what better way to share that love than at church, with all the children in your community? That’s what’s happening around the world through our Compassion church partners this year. The Christmas traditions may be different, but the excitement levels and infectious smiles are the same!

Thanks to gifts from people like you to our Christmas Appeal, some children are going to get a big surprise this year. A party, a chance to praise with the whole community – and perhaps their first Christmas present ever.

It may be a while off yet, but it’s never too early to spread a bit of joy! This is some of the recent fun from Compassion Christmas celebrations from around the world:

Uganda Christmas tradition

In Uganda, 150 children came together at church to celebrate Christmas. Carols, dancing, skits – and Christmas cake! Then the pastor shared the Christmas message – God’s greatest gift of Jesus.

Christmas in El Salvador

In El Salvador, Christmas dinner = pizza! Our church partner Mercedes Trujillo remembers the beautiful moment when each child was given their present. “They were all asked what they wanted for Christmas. Even though they knew already they were getting shoes, that didn’t take away the excitement of unwrapping a present. Also, what they didn’t know is that we added extra stuff inside their shoebox to make it more special.”

Christmas traditions in Nicaragua

Jimena Valentina Rugama, in Nicaragua, says, “I like that Christmas is always fun and joyful. I learn to be a good person and I always feel loved when it’s Christmas time. I also like that this is when Jesus was born.”

Christmas dinner in Guatemala

In Guatemala, the main Christmas dinner is eaten on Christmas Eve.

Generous gifts to Compassion’s Christmas Appeal meant this mum in the Dominican Republic could buy her daughter a Christmas present. Imagine her surprise! We’d love to bless more children at Christmas. You can help by giving a gift to the Greatest Gift Christmas Appeal this year and raising a few more smiles like these.

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Christmas nativity tradition Colombia

Dana Vanessa, got to play Mary in her church’s nativity celebration in Colombia. She says, “We should celebrate Christmas because our Saviour was born. Jesus' birth is something that made history.”

house in Honduras

In Honduras, families often celebrate Christmas with a tradition of knocking on each other’s doors to be invited in, like Mary and Joseph.


Christmas traditions in Ecuador

Nine-year-old Sheila, from Ecuador, trained for months to perform for Jesus in the Christmas show for the whole community. She says, "It's not only a dance presentation; it's my time where I can dance for Jesus, for his birthday. I know that throughout the year I've received so many good things and blessings, and now I want to give something back and dance for him."

Christmas traditions in Kenya

In Kenya, one child is delighted to receive a Christmas message from her sponsor. If you’d like to write to your sponsored child this Christmas too, please do so by  4 November. You can give the beautiful gift of encouragement. 

Christmas traditions in Bolivia

Jhoselin from Bolivia, says, “For me Christmas means when Jesus was born and happiness”.

Christmas traditions in Brazil

It’s tinsel time in Brazil! Marcos says, "I like to see everything coloured for Christmas. Our house looks more beautiful and colourful. I always saw many houses covered in ornaments for Christmas in the city. My parents never had much money to buy ornaments, but now I'm so happy to see our house like this. I hope Jesus likes it too."

Christmas traditions in Sri Lanka

In Sri Lanka, the Christmas season starts on 1 December with fireworks at dawn!

Hand clapping games in Ghana

In Ghana, Christmas parties often feature traditional dancing. Christmas celebrations tend to kick off around the 20 December and continue through to the first week of January. 

Christmas in Togo

Eight-year-old Tengue loves the Christmas celebrations at his church in Togo. He says, “On Christmas people are happy. They dance. People go to church and rejoice. They distribute cheese biscuits to children. People play football and marbles.”

Christmas present

In Haiti, homes are filled with branches as Christmas trees and nativity scenes large enough to take over the room. In this photo, Christel is receives a gift from the Compassion Christmas party. “What I most like about Christmas at the project is the quality time I spend with my homies,” he explains!

Christmas in Tanzania

In Tanzania, children receive presents for the first time at Compassion celebrations. But they know that the greatest gift is God’s love. One child says, “During Christmas, I accepted Christ as my Lord and Saviour and he was born inside my heart. Since then I enjoy every Christmas.”

Christmas in Ethiopia


Did you know that in Ethiopia, many churches celebrate Christmas on January 7, not December 25! Here, Amanuel in Ethiopia was thrilled to receive the gift of joy from his sponsor, who sent him a beautiful encouraging Christmas card and message. You too can send a Christmas message to your sponsored child – a gift of encouragement to last all year round.

Christmas traditions in Rwanda

In Rwanda, Christmas is the one time of year when everyone gets dressed up to go to church. “I love Christmas because it’s that time of the year when more people come to church to celebrate the birth of our saviour, Jesus Christ. Many people usually come to church on that day as a religious act, but some end up getting saved.”

Christmas quote Peru

Imagine a child’s face receiving their first ever Christmas present! This boy in Peru has a smile that says it all. If you’d like to give to our Christmas Appeal, you can give the greatest gift to children who might not be expecting anything this Christmas.

Christmas in Mexico

In Mexico, elaborate nativity scenes often celebrate the greatest gift of Jesus at Christmas. These children are celebrating receiving what might be their only Christmas present at their Compassion project! 

Christmas traditions in Thailand stockings

Christmas isn’t usually celebrated by families at home in Thailand, but people do gather to celebrate as a community. Last year, the Compassion church partners surprised the children with a Christmas stocking – something they’d never heard of before!

Smiling boy in Burkina Faso

Christmas in Burkina Faso is celebrated with a special meal of chicken or mutton. These kids are beyond excited to celebrate at their Compassion project!

Christmas traditions in Indonesia

For 10-year-old Sophie Adela, in Indonesia, Christmas is a chance for her whole family to share the greatest gift of Jesus. She says, “I did know about Christmas, but I didn’t know the story of Jesus. My family did not celebrate Christmas. They are not attending the church. I started learning about Christmas and began to understand about the story of Jesus after attending the project.”

Christmas tradition in the Philippines

“Merry Christmas. God loves you,” say the children from this Compassion project in the Philippines. They get to give gifts as well as receive them, handing out presents to tribal children who live in the mountains.

Christmas tradiitons in Bangladesh

Christmas is only celebrated by Christian families in Bangladesh, with a huge meal for everyone after the church service.

Right now, our 7,000 church partners are choosing presents, preparing menus and planning celebrations for this Christmas. You can help us really make this Christmas special for your sponsored child, and 2 million children in poverty, by donating to our Christmas Appeal, The Greatest Gift. Thank you!

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WORDS : Compassion UK

PHOTOS : Compassion International


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