Christmas Gift Traditions around the World

Christmas gift traditions around the World


For much of the month of December here in the UK, we purchase and wrap gifts to be given to our loved ones on Christmas Day. But how do countries across the world mark this occasion with presents?


Christmas gift traditions


United States and Canada

Just like the British, children in the US and Canada leave their stockings out on Christmas Eve to be filled by Santa.


Belgium and France

Gift giving occurs on December 6 (St Nicholas’ Day) for children when they put their shoes in front of the fireplace rather than stockings. On Christmas Eve, small gifts are also exchanged with family and friends.



Le Befana (a kindly old witch) brings children toys on the Feast of the Epiphany (January 6) - the traditional day of the arrival of the Wise Men.



Christmas is a very religious festival in this European country. Spaniards believe that wise men on horseback give the gifts rather than Santa.



Gifts are hidden throughout the house by a scary gnome-like character - Tomte, who only appears to deliver gifts. Packages are typically wrapped in several layers of paper to make the opening of the gift more of an event.



Gift giving is carried out by a character called Christkind - a present day incarnation of the Christ child - as the Swiss are keen to preserve this as a holiday of the celebration of the birth of Christ.



Papa Noel is the gift giver and shoes are left outside the doors so he can fill them with sweets. Other presents are hidden all over the house but before the children can open them they must give their parents breakfast in bed.



The focus here is on celebrating the birth of Jesus rather than gifts, and if gifts are exchanged, it is usually practical items such as cloth, soap, pencils and books.



‘Christmas Apples’ are a common gift because the world apple apparently sounds like Christmas Eve in Mandarin.