Christmas Traditions Around The World

One of the most beautiful things about Christmas is the many diverse and unique traditions that create a lifetime of memories sometimes passed down through generations of families. We have the privilege of celebrating this season with people from all over the globe and share our treasured traditions with one another as an ohana. Representing six different countries, a few of our staff answered some fun questions about how they celebrate the Christmas season. Keep scrolling to view the Christmas in Hawaii, STN ohana style at the end of the interviews!

Do you have a fake or real tree?

Spencer Kaneda, Canada: “Real, we chop our own.”

Aino Palmer, Finland: “Real!”

Gisele McDaniel, South African: “Sometimes we have a thorn tree. Always real but not the traditional spruce or fir tree.”

Madi Graham, USA: “Never had a real tree.”

Agnes Axelsson, Sweden: “Real, my family chops one down on my uncle’s wooded property.”

Roger Von Niederhäusern, Switzerland: “There is only one tree and it’s a real one.”

What does Christmas morning typically look like?

Spencer Kaneda, Canada: ” The morning begins with coffee & Baileys. We open our stockings then gifts, and end the afternoon with watching the NBA basketball game as a family.”

Aino Palmer, Finland: “We celebrate Christmas Eve. Mom makes her homemade rice porridge with a hidden lucky almond. After breakfast, we open stockings and gifts. Christmas Day is spent with family most likely outside playing in the snow.”

Gisele McDaniel, South African: “As a family, we attend church early in morning. We are usually pretty exhausted because we celebrate late Christmas Eve night. Following the church service, we sit as a family and enjoy earl gray tea, mince pies (fruit pie) and any leftover gifts that haven’t been opened.”

Madi Graham, USA: “We are early risers, and brew coffee before anything else. As a family, we sit and read the Christmas story and then begin opening presents and stockings. Mom makes an egg bake while dad makes cinnamon rolls. After breakfast, we play either board or card games as a family. As evening approaches, we get ready for the family Christmas party. Sometimes we’ll screen a movie towards the end of the night.”

Agnes Axelsson, Sweden: “We open one present Christmas eve morning, and the rest that evening. Breakfast with my family consists of (smörgås: ham and mustard sandwich), and the rest of Christmas Day is spent as a family, chillin.”

Roger Von Niederhäusern, Switzerland: “Usually we get up(I always get up last), have small breakfast (which is eat whatever is left) and Dad wrangles everyone to the car. We celebrate with all extended family at my uncle’s house. Shortly after arriving, we have family lunch and fellowship. Most of the time is spent gathered in the living room singing Christmas songs, reading stories about Christmas traditions from different eras, and Grandma looking for her purse so she can distribute envelopes to each grandkid. People begin leaving after a while. The farmers in the family leave first to go milk their cows. The more talkative family members hang out and drink coffee until later in the evening.”

Did you have an elf on a shelf? If so, what was his/her name

Spencer Kaneda, Canada: “What does that mean?”

Aino Palmer, Finland: “No, what is that?”

Gisele McDaniel, South African: “No.. Not a thing.”

Madi Graham, USA: “No.. haha”

Agnes Axelsson, Sweden: “What?”

Roger Von Niederhäusern, Switzerland: “A what? Elf? What is an elf?”

What is your favorite Christmas cookie?

Spencer Kaneda, Canada: “The leftover pie dough in all different shapes with brown sugar and cinnamon.” 

Aino Palmer, Finland: “Puff Pastry and prune pudding squares with powdered sugar on top (Christmas Stars).”

Gisele McDaniel, South African: “Mince Pies (tradition) with assorted fruit, cinnamon, and nutmeg.”

Madi Graham, USA: “Fiesta Fudge (Peanut butter bar with m&ms on inside with chocolate covering).”

Agnes Axelsson, Sweden: “Gingerbread!”

Roger Von Niederhäusern, Switzerland: “Spitzbub (Two cookies with jam in the middle).”

Name your favorite Christmas movie and why it’s your favorite

Spencer Kaneda, Canada: “The Grinch (Jim Carey), Because his heart grows three sizes.”

Aino Palmer, Finland: “Elf, It’s a family tradition.”

Gisele McDaniel, South African: “Elf, not a big tradition but its funny.”

Madi Graham, USA: “It’s a Wonderful Life, it’s a family Christmas Eve tradition.”

Agnes Axelsson, Sweden: “The Grinch (Jim Carey), because the Grinch does mischievous things that we secretly want to do.. like wrapping up annoying people into Christmas gifts.”

Roger Von Niederhäusern, Switzerland: “Home Alone, the one in New York.”

Favorite Christmas album/song

Spencer Kaneda, Canada: “Bing Crosby, I’ll be home for Christmas.”

Aino Palmer, Finland: “Classical version of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”

Gisele McDaniel, South African: “Bing Crosby, O Come Emmanuel.”

Madi Graham, USA: “Justin Bieber album, Blue Christmas – Elvis Presley.”

Agnes Axelsson, Sweden: “Michael Buble, Its Beginning to Look a lot Like Christmas.”

Roger Von Niederhäusern, Switzerland: “Sovereign over us by Michael W. Smith (It sounds Christmasy) and chipmunk version of Jingle Bells.”

What is your most treasured tradition

Spencer Kaneda, Canada: “Enjoying appetizers & wine while playing cards with family.”

Aino Palmer, Finland: “On Christmas Eve gift opening is very intentional. Family dinner is first, then we sing Christmas carols. The entire family sits and reads the bible story and open gifts one by one. It’s such a sweet & intimate time with each other. To finish the night, we participate in the Bethlehem walk, which is the story of Christ’s birth through the crucifixion.”

Gisele McDaniel, South African: “Go to Aunt house on Christmas Eve for a lavish 6-course meal and wait until midnight to open gifts.”

Madi Graham, USA: “We attend a Christmas Eve candlelit service followed by a party, and end the night as a family screening movie. EVERYONE comes home for Christmas!”

Agnes Axelsson, Sweden: “Dad, my brother, sister and I go to a few abandon roads, attach a sled to the car, and ride through the snow. IT’S SO MUCH FUN!”

Roger Von Niederhäusern, Switzerland: “The past four or five years, my sister would do reflection about each family member from that year. Her reflections are really meaningful and impactful. I also enjoy going to the midnight service at church.”

If you could create a new Christmas tradition, what would it be and why?

Spencer Kaneda, Canada: “Go ice skating, as a family, all dressed as Santa.”

Aino Palmer, Finland: “Each family member comes up with their own creative way to celebrate Christmas. Bring one gift on a day adventure (Christmas morning surf session)”

Gisele McDaniel, South African: “Doing cinnamon rolls and gifts Christmas morning.”

Madi Graham, USA: “Something active as a family: sledding!”

Agnes Axelsson, Sweden: “Go ice Skating the evening of December 1st on one of the frozen lakes.”

Roger Von Niederhäusern, Switzerland: “I would want to go on a surf trip or somewhere that’s hot (all-inclusive trip for super cheap).”

Who is your favorite reindeer?

Spencer Kaneda, Canada: “Rudolph.”

Aino Palmer, Finland: “Santa’s village is in Finland and Rudolph!”

Gisele McDaniel, South African: “None.”

Madi Graham, USA: “Prancer, he just does his thing and prances. You just see him in the air and he be prancin’.”

Agnes Axelsson, Sweden: Googles reindeer names… “Blitzen: He sounds like a fast one!”

Roger Von Niederhäusern, Switzerland: “Comet because he is handsome and easy going.”

What is your most outrageous Christmas tradition?

Spencer Kaneda, Canada: “Gifts for my dog.”

Aino Palmer, Finland: “Celebrating on Christmas Eve!”

Gisele, South African: “Brandy tart with a lucky penny inside. Whoever finds the penny wins.”

Madi Graham, USA: “Parents still pretend Santa comes, and dad eats carrots instead of cookies (because of his diet).”

Agnes, Sweden: “Watch Donald Duck at 3 pm every year (special Christmas tradition) Its sinful not to.”

Roger, Switzerland: “Nothing out of the ordinary…”


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