A Very Global Christmas Part 2

Now that you know about some of Europe’s Holiday traditions, we will check in with our employees that have their roots in other parts of the world. This time you’ll read about holiday celebrations from The Americas, Africa and Asia.

Honduras – Liliana S., Condominium Reservations         

According to Liliana S., Christmas in Honduras is very different from most places in the United States:

“The weather is much warmer. It’s usually around 80 degrees and people light fireworks all night long, especially at midnight on Christmas and New Year’s Eve.  Families gather to listen to music, dance, eat and have a good time. The focus is not on gifts, but on spending time with family and making great memories. Christmas would not be complete without our traditional tamales, filled with chicken or pork, rice, potatoes, peas and green olives. Another popular holiday dish is arroz con pollo (rice with chicken), as well as shredded chicken sandwiches. Rompopo (eggnog) is the typical holiday drink.”

Colombia – Diana S., Condominium Reservations

Christmas lights over the Medellín river. Photo Credit: Edgar Jiménez/Flickr.

In Colombia, Christmas begins on December 7, when people celebrate La Noche de las Velitas (The Night of the Little Candles). Diana S. tells us:

“On this day, and the following day, people get together at night to light candles and lanterns on the streets, in parks, and in windows and doorways, to honor the Virgin Mary. Then on December 16, families, friends and neighbors gather to start the Novenas, a set of prayers recited in the nine days before Christmas, to remember the birth of Jesus. During the Novena celebrations, people pray and sing Christmas carols in front of a Pesebre (Nativity Scene). After the prayers, they would play Christmas music, talk and eat special holiday treats, such as Buñuelos (fried dough balls with cheese) and Natilla (sweet custard). Christmas Eve is the last day of the Novenas, and the night of the main celebration. On this night, families get together to pray and have a special dinner. After midnight, kids would open the presents that baby Jesus brought them, and adults would exchange gifts.”

Philippines – Mia R. – Condominium Reservations

Firework display Philippines. Photo Credit: Benson Kua/Flickr.

Mia R. describes for us that Christmas in the Philippines is very similar to the US:


“Our family will gather together and have the traditional dinner. When the clock hits midnight, we pass out the presents. Christmas morning is for sleeping in. On New Year’s Eve you can hear and smell the fireworks, as soon as it is midnight. If you walk across the street and wipe your nose it would be black. That’s how much smoke would be on the block.”

Kenya – Daniel K., Creative      

In East Africa, Christmas is all about family and extended family coming together. Daniel K. from Kenya recalls:


“Family members and relatives from all parts of the country usually go back to rural areas to be with family and enjoy Christmas time together. Christmas back home is called Krismasi in Swahili. The main dish is either goat, sheep or chicken, pilau rice, chapattis (flatbreads) and roasted meat, which we call nyama choma. New year’s Eve involves parties, music, fireworks and church services across the nation, which go past midnight to usher in the new year.”

Brazil – Douglas H., Technology Services

World’s largest floating Christmas tree, Rio de Janeiro. Photo Credit: Leandro Neumann Ciuffo/Flickr.


“In Brazil,” Douglas H. tells us, “we have a tradition called Ceia de Natal (Christmas Supper). On Christmas Eve, people will roast a turkey and have a large meal. The supper is similar to the Thanksgiving meal in the USA. Meals in Brazil are long, since people tend to stay at the table and talk for a long time after the meal is over. The tradition was passed on from Portugal during colonization and became a staple of Brazilian Christmas celebrations. In Brazil, Christmas falls in the summer, so most people leave after Christmas to go to the beach for New Year’s.”

Mexico – Leslie C., Human Resources

What are our neighbors to the South up to during the Holiday Season? Leslie C. knows all about it:

“In Mexico, Christmas is celebrated from December 12 to January 6. From December 16 to Christmas Eve, mostly families and children take part in the Posadas. Posada is the Spanish word for inn or lodging. There are nine Posadas in the Christmas season; these celebrate the part of the Christmas story where Joseph and Mary looked for somewhere to stay. For the Posadas, the outside of houses are decorated with evergreens, moss and paper lanterns. When I was in Mexico City to partake, it was so magical because there was a party for Jesus every night for nine nights!

“In each Posada, individuals are given candles and a board, with painted clay figures of Mary riding on a donkey and Joseph, to walk around the streets with. They call at the houses of friends and neighbors and sing a song at each home. The song they sing is about Joseph and Mary asking for a room in the house. But the families are told that there is no room in the house and that they must go away. Eventually they are told there is room and are welcomed in! When the families go into the house, they say prayers of thanks and then they have a party with food — traditionally consisting of tamales, romeritos, pozole, turkey, Buñuelos and ponche, a Mexican hot punch — piñatas and a bunch of fireworks.

“Each night a different house hosts the Posada party. At the final Posada, on Christmas Eve, a manger and figures of shepherds are put onto the board. When the Posada house has been ‘found’, a baby Jesus is put into the manger and most families will go to a midnight mass. Many people in Mexico, and even in the States, go to a Midnight Mass service, known as the Misa de Gallo (Mass of the Rooster). I haven’t been to midnight mass since I was in high school, but I always remember it being a very exciting and illuminating experience. There are a lot of fireworks to celebrate Christmas Day, and I wish we could set those off here in the States as well.”

After this grand holiday tour around the world with our Global Discovery Vacations employees, we would love to hear from you and how you will be spending the holidays!

Ray originally hails from The Hague, Netherlands and one day showed up at Global Discovery Vacations’ doorstep. When he is not traveling or writing, you might find him engaged in playing ping pong, swimming or planting tulips.