Have you ever wondered what Christmas is like outside North America? Kathleen and Lief share their experiences celebrating Christmas overseas for more than 20 years.
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In the meantime, here are Kathleen and Lief’s favorite Christmas traditions in countries they’ve lived in overseas:
The Annual Christmas Swim
This tradition consists of jumping into the Irish sea. It has been going on for generations. In the 1980s, when Kathleen and Lief lived in Ireland, this was mostly a men’s tradition.
The Pubs During Christmas Day
This is the only day of the year where pubs stay closed.
Saint Stephen’s Day
Celebrated on the 26th of December, Saint Stephen’s Day is as important as Christmas Day. While the 25th is a family day, where most people stay home, the 26th is when people go out and about. On Saint Stephen’s Day, people visit friends and family and exchange gifts.
Back in the day, women were the ones who took care of the children and household. But not on Women’s Christmas, celebrated on January 6th. On this day, men did the cooking and took care of the children while women went to the pub for the day.
Paris takes Christmas decorations very seriously. Both big department stores and small shops will decorate their windows. Christmas time is when Paris becomes filled with lights and other Christmas decorations.
Eating oysters is a popular Christmas tradition. Most of the restaurants will have oyster specials around this time of the year.
In Panama, you will be able to find all the traditional things you would normally have in North America. This includes real Christmas trees, shipped from Canada.
A quirk about Panama is that, since Halloween and Thanksgiving are not widely celebrated, the Christmas decorations are out by mid-October. By November, the decorations are in sale and most of the good ones are sold out.
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