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What are some unique Christmas traditions from around the world?

With Christianity the world’s largest religion there are plenty of differences in how communities celebrate the birth of Christ.

Figurants in traditional clothes of the Living Nativity, walk from the Basilica of St John Lateran, following the itinerary of the Corpus Christi procession, to the Papal Basilica of St Mary Major where the scene of the Nativity of the Child Jesus is depicted.

It is just over one week to Christmas and billions of people are gearing up for one of the largest religious celebrations on the planet.

We’ll dive into some different traditions around the world.

United Kingdom - Boxing Day

Boxing Day is a tradition born out of Great Britain and its wider Commonwealth of Nations, what used to be the British Empire. The Oxford English Dictionary notes back in the 1830s that it was “the first weekday after Christmas day, observed as a holiday on which postmen, errand boys, and servants of various kinds expect to receive a Christmas box”.

A Christmas box was a gift to tradesmen and employees, who were given a gift in gratitude for their service throughout the year. The day is usually filled with a slew of sporting events too.

Spain - Dia de los Reyes

On January 5th, Spanish towns and cities are adorned in parades of the Dia de los Reyes, or the Kings’ Day. This celebrates the arrival of the three wise men in Bethlehem.

The evening of the 5th, children leave a pair of shoes outside the door for the kings to fill with gifts. A 2015 survey by Spanish toymakers association AEFJ are more popualr than Father Christmas; 68% said they preferred receiving presents from the wise men.

Malaysia and Singapore - public holiday

Rare for Asian nations, both Malaysia and Singapore have a public holiday on December 25. Both nations have firework-filled nights and the exchange of gifts while the non-Christian people in the countries can enjoy a day off.

South America - Misa de Gallo

In the former Spanish colonies ‘Shephard’s Mass’ is celebrated. These nations believe Jesus was actually born on December 24 which is when the mass ends. Midnight mass is an ancient tradition from Palestine. Some of the nations on celebrate Misa de Gallo as the final mass of a week of celebration while others have just the final mass.