Experience the wonder of global gifts through a journey into shared holiday traditions. In December global festivities like special decorations, worship services, family feasts, and gift-giving customs make holiday traditions around the world more alike than you might imagine. Regional Christmas celebrations range in size and scope; however, each culture brings its own special spin to the holiday, which makes Christmas around the world a global celebration, indeed. Find ideas for a global Christmas celebration whether you’re hosting a Christmas around the world party or simply love to gift presents you can’t find anywhere else.
A global Christmas: celebrations around the world
We at Saffron Marigold absolutely adore learning about the nuances and traditions of different cultures. After all, each of our hand block printed collections found its source of inspiration in a global locale and is designed to bring you on a journey to that special place. With that in mind, let’s dive into some holiday traditions and celebrations from around the world–particularly a few places that have a special connection to our collections and design inspiration.
Christmas in Italy & Italian Christmas traditions
An Italian Christmas begins early in December with the feast of St. Nicholas. However, there isn’t any feasting on Christmas Eve day as this is a day of fasting. One of the most famous Italian Christmas traditions is the feast of fishes. Many Italians enjoy a light fish dinner that evening before attending midnight mass. Once mass concludes, the celebrations begin in full swing.
Of course, Babbo Natale (Father Christmas) shows up to deliver gifts on Christmas Eve, but even more common–and more Italian–is the befana, the legendary witch who brings presents to good children on the eve of Epiphany. Here are a few gift ideas to bring a bit of Italian Christmas tradition. Say Merry Christmas in Italian this year: Buon Natale!
Global gifts from Italy
Add a bit of Mediterranean flair to your dining and kitchen with these floral table linens.
Evoke imagery of citrus groves and Mediterranean breezes with our Orange Blossom print. Use it at Christmas Eve for the traditional dinner of seven fishes and incorporate fresh greenery and gold accents at the holiday table setting.
Pair Orange Blossom with holiday dinnerware in rustic reds and gold. Drape lemon-laden branches or fruit bunches down the center of the table runner for a chic centerpiece.
La Befana Christmas Ornament
Hang this Italian Christmas ornament on your tree to recall La Befana, the Italian Christmas gift-giver.
Italian Cookie Tray
If you don’t live near an Italian bakery, simply order a tray from Little Italy’s favorite baker! After all, no Italian holiday would be complete without a cookie tray offered at dessert.
French Christmas traditions
Celebrate Christmas the French way this year! Bring some French flair to your holiday with some of France’s Christmas traditions. The French take a different approach to the nativity scene. In Provence the creche extends beyond the manger scene and depicts Provencal village life complete with figurines known as santons (little saints) to portray villagers. The French feast on Christmas Eve (or early Christmas morning) following the midnight church service.
Did you know that that Yule Log began as a Christmas tradition in France? The Yule Log also plays a role in a French Christmas–it was originally doused with red wine to improve the fragrance of the log burning! The pièce de résistance is the chocolate interpretation of the Yule Log, known as the Bûche De Noël. And French children, of course, anxiously await the arrival of gifts from Père Noël (Father Christmas). This year, say Merry Christmas in French: Joyeux Noël!
Global gifts from France
From elegant French-inspired linens to exquisite treats—here are some wonderful gift ideas for Francophiles.
Wrap a few throw pillows with Gardens of Versailles for a touch of French holiday decor. This will be especially on point if your approach to holiday decorating features the elegant color combination of silver and gold.
With this delightful spin on traditional French country colors, your days will be merry and bright!
Buche De Noel
We can get behind a centerpiece that’s as gorgeous as it is delicious! This Buche de Noel, the traditional French yule log treat, makes an impressive and tasty addition to your holiday table.
Help the Francophile in your life begin a new tradition with a creche. These santons of Provence are handmade by a santonnier in Aix en Provence.
Christmas traditions in Japan
While Christmas Eve resembles Valentine’s Day and the New Year remains the ultimate winter holiday, Japan’s Christmas is slowly growing in popularity. Some Japanese Christmas traditions found their origins in Western culture and others are distinctly Japanese. For example, Americans don’t head to the KFC drive-thru on Christmas, but millions of Japanese families dine on Kentucky Fried Chicken as their preferred Christmas meal, which they pre-order weeks in advance.
Grand light displays illuminate the country throughout the holiday season, and people around the country enjoy kurisumasu keki (Christmas cake). The cake is essentially a strawberry shortcake and was chosen for its colors since they represent the color of the Japanese flag.
Global gifts from Japan
This coastal collection is inspired by the famous seigaha (blue sea and waves) pattern found in Japanese pottery.
You’ll stay cozy and warm on a cold winter’s night when bundled up in Pacific Blue, a print inspired by the vast sea and Japanese pottery.
What better place to escape any holiday stress than in a steamy shower? Drape Pacific Blue at the shower and you’ll find your thoughts swimming in the blue sea and inhaling ocean breezes.
World Famous Strawberry Shortcake
For a Japanese spin on your Christmas desserts, choose the strawberry shortcake. A sure treat at holiday gatherings and a tasty treat for a friend who adores Japanese culture!
Made with authentic gemstones and wired by hand, this fair trade tree makes for a beautifully artistic interpretation of the Christmas bonsai.
English Christmas traditions
Just the words “an English Christmas” conjure images of Dickensian snowfall and the sounds of Christmas carols, don’t they? While wassailing may not take place as frequently these days, the English still enjoy a cup of good cheer at Christmastime. In fact, many American Christmas traditions stem from Christmas traditions in England.
Both Boxing Day and Christmas crackers and crowns began in the UK. (And you might consider Boxing Day a Christmas tradition around the world!) British children write letters to Father Christmas, but instead of sending them to the North Pole, they burn them in the fireplace. (Santa can read the smoke, didn’t you know?) The children hang stockings at their bedposts and hope to find them filled with goodies come Christmas morning.
Global gifts from the United Kingdom
From English-inspired linens to traditional Christmas crackers, go on a holiday journey to England with these global gifts.
Feel like you’re having an English Christmas all winter long with a duvet cover from our William Morris-inspired English Gardens collection. This blue and white block print blends chinoiserie chic with pure cottage style.
Shopping for your friend who loves all things British? Then present her with these table linens filled with English wildflowers for high tea.
Fortnum & Mason
Snowy Christmas Crackers
Every English Christmas table setting has to have authentic, traditional Christmas crackers!
Oliver Pluff & Co.
This Old English recipe will bring warmth, spice, and a cozy sense of tradition to your Christmas holiday. Raise a glass and toast to good health or pair it up with our table linens for a lovely English-themed gift set.
Christmas traditions in India
Christmas traditions in India reflects global influences along with its own decidedly colorful take on the holiday. Roughly 25 million people celebrate Christmas in India. The biggest celebrations take place in Goa and Mumbai, where Christians (predominantly Catholics) attend the midnight mass. Goa, the epicenter for Christmas in India, has a historical connection to Portugal and that carries into some holiday customs, such as the Kuswar.
A favorite Indian Christmas tradition–particularly in Goa–includes the making of desserts, sweets, and treats. Many families spend weeks preparing platters of up to 22 traditional sweets! On Christmas Eve, the whole family attends midnight mass at churches graced with abundant poinsettias and candlelight and later feast on pork vindaloo. Paper lantern stars strung between houses form a festive, illuminated display.
Global gifts from India
Discover the charm and cultural richness of an Indian Christmas with these gifts.
An elegant table runner featuring a traditional paisley floral pattern makes a wonderful Christmas gift to use year-round.
Not only does this floral tablecloth make a beautiful gift, it would also look gorgeous on your Christmas dinner table. Simply add a poinsettia or two for instant holiday style.
Invite delectable flavors to your table and try your hand at making some Indian-American Christmas sweets of your own with the recipes in this book.
Set a festive mood with these vibrant, elegant paper star lanterns and your holiday will feel merry and bright!