Countries That Celebrate Christmas 2022

map placeholder

Christmas is an annual festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, observed primarily (but not exclusively) on December 25th each year. Christmas is celebrated in some capacity by nearly every country in the world (see full table at page bottom) and billions of people across the globe. Christmas is both a religious and a cultural/secular holiday, incorporating not only the birth of Christ but also many nonreligious traditions such as gift-giving, the decoration of trees, gathering with loved ones, and a general sentiment of peace and good will.

The origin and timing of Christmas

While the majority of Christians celebrate Christ's birth on December 24 (Christmas Eve) and/or December 25 (Christmas Day), these are not universally agreed-upon dates. This is because Christian denominations follow two different calendars.

Catholics, Protestants, and most of the secular world all follow the modern Gregorian calendar, introduced by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582, which places Christmas in the "usual" December 24-25 slot. However, many Orthodox churches, particularly in the slavic and "stan" countries of Eastern Europe and Western Asia, follow the older Julian calendar, established in 46 B.C. by Roman Emperor Julius Caesar. The Julian calendar currently trails 13 days behind the Gregorian calendar, so Dec. 25 (Christmas Eve) takes place 13 days later, on the day the rest of the world knows as January 06, with Christmas Day following on Jan 07.

Whichever calendar one follows, there exists no proof that Christ was born exactly on December 25. In fact, the first mention of it did not appear until 221 A.D., nearly 200 years after the death of Jesus, in the writings of historian Sextus Julius Africanus.

Multiple theories exist as to why that particular date was selected to represent Jesus' birthday. For example, one prevailing theory postulates that early Christians sought to coordinate with an existing Roman festival, the dies solis invicti nati (“day of the birth of the unconquered sun”), thereby connecting the rebirth of the sun with the birth of God's son. Another theory suggests they chose a day nine months (the duration of pregnancy) after the Spring Equinox, March 25, which was believed to be the day God added light when creating the universe and therefore would also be the day he introduced Jesus, the "light of the world."

Christmas around the World

Christmas celebrations around the world vary greatly. Religion is obviously the biggest differentiating factor, as the holiday has a much greater significance for Christians, who believe Jesus Christ is their spiritual savior, than for those who view it as the time Santa (or one of his allegories) visits. On a similar, but opposite note, Muslim nations, whose governments may believe non-Islamic holidays are sinful, are more likely to view Christmas with disdain.

However, even within the spiritual or secular camps, Christmas takes on a huge variety of forms around the world. Many themes are nearly universal—decorating trees, setting up nativity scenes, spending time feasting and celebrating with loved ones, receiving gifts left by a supernatural being—but the details vary fantastically from one country to the next.

For example, in some countries, gifts mysteriously appear in children's stockings, but in other countries they appear in shoes or pillowcases. Moreover, the gifts may appear at various times from December 06 through January 07, and may be delivered by anyone from the white-bearded, red-clad Santa Claus of the United States to the similar (but New Year's oriented) "Winter Father", the baby Jesus, or even the littlest camel in the three wise men's caravan. Santa may also be accompanied by a sidekick or opposite character such as Krampus (many European countries), Old Man Beggar (Liberia) or the controversial Black Pete or his less offensive replacement Sooty Pete (Netherlands, Luxembourg).

Christmas trees, too, display a variety of approaches. Many are stereotypical conical evergreens, but they may alternately be an olive branch, a palm tree, or a model made of coconuts or even chicken feathers. They may be decorated with anything from electric lights and ornaments to candles, ribbons, candy, and more. Also, they are not always strictly Christmas trees, as some countries—particularly former members of the Soviet Union—have no Christmas holiday per se, but celebrate the New Year in a way that the rest of the world would identify as decidedly Christmas-like (see Kazakhstan, below).

This illustrates the fact that Christmas is not a single holiday, but a season. Many countries celebrate not only on December 24-25, but also during the days leading up to Christmas, New Year's, and especially the arrival of three wise men in Bethlehem, typically called either the Epiphany or Three Kings Day, on January 6-7.

Official recognition of Christmas by various governments

Around the world, the majority of governments declare Christmas an official public holiday—some countries even recognize both Gregorian Christmas on Dec. 25 and Julian/Orthodox Christmas on Jan. 07. Other governments recognize Christmas as a cultural event, but stop short of declaring it an official legal holiday. A few majority Muslim countries, such as Pakistan, designate December 25 as an official holiday only for Christians.

Finally, a small subset of countries have taken an aggressive stance against Christmas, even going so far as to make public Christmas celebrations illegal. These countries are typically ruled by a totalitarian regime (North Korea) or by a Muslim government that follows a strict interpretation of Sharia Law and feels that any non-Muslim holidays are a violation of Islamic principles.

Christmas celebrations in various countries

Germany and Poland

In Germany, gifts are exchanged on Christmas Eve rather than on Christmas Day. This was introduced by Martin Luther, who felt that Christmas Day should focus on Christ’s birth and not on gifts. Germany is also reportedly the first country in which people began to put Christmas trees inside their homes. The tree is typically brought into the home on Christmas Eve, after the children have gone to sleep, and is secretly decorated by the mother of the family.

Christmas Eve in Poland is a day of fasting, with a festive meal served at the end of the fast. Families usually feast on a 12-course meal, which represents the 12 disciples of Jesus. Christmas Eve ends with Pasterka, the midnight mass at the local church. Christmas Day in Poland is spent attending mass and visiting friends.

Kazakhstan and Russia

The government of the Soviet Union sought to stamp out the religious aspect of Christmas, and so officially denounced the holiday--however, many of the holiday's secular elements transferred to the New Year's holiday. This led to the modern scenario in former Soviet countries such as Russia and Kazakhstan, in which only the Orthodox Christian minority celebrates Christmas (on Jan. 07), but everyone celebrates the New Year festival—which includes New Years trees and the bearded Snow Father (also called Father Frost or Grandfather Frost), who delivers presents to children on New Year's Eve.

Norway

As in other European countries, gifts are opened on Christmas Eve in Norway. Santa Claus, known as Julenissen, and his small gnomes, known as “nisse” deliver the gifts. Christmas Day is a quieter and more relaxed day, with a traditional breakfast served and Church services attended. December 26th has continued celebrations of gatherings and parties with Christmas cookies and treats are enjoyed.

Japan

Because few Christians live in Japan, Christmas is not celebrated as a religious holiday. Nor is it recognized by the government as a formal public holiday. However, Christmas is seen as a time to spread happiness in Japan, and many Western Christmas traditions have been adopted by Japan. Gifts are exchanged and Christmas parties are held around Christmas Day. During the 1970s, an advertising campaign made it popular to eat KFC around Christmas, a tradition so popular that KFCs in Japan now take reservations and orders for Christmas meals weeks in advance.

Iceland

Iceland celebrates Yule, which is linked to winter solstice celebrations dating back thousands of years before Christmas. In fact, many Christmas traditions are taken from Yule. Celebrations in Iceland begin four Sundays before December 24th (Advent) and end on January 6th, 13 days later. Thirteen days before December 24th, children leave out shoes by the window so that the Yule Lads, the two sons of trolls living the mountains known for their mischief, can leave them small presents. On the 24th, some will attend mass at 6:00 pm and others will begin their holiday meal, after which gifts are opened.

For more details on the Christmas traditions of the world's countries, see the table below.

Countries That Celebrate Christmas 2022

Country Celebrated? Date Notes 2022 Population
ChinaUnofficially12/25/2022Popularity of secular Christmas is growing, with a focus on romance and time spent with loved ones. Santa plays saxophone and has sisters rather than elves1,448,471,400
IndiaYes12/25/2022India is less than 3% Christian, but Christmas remains a national holiday and is often celebrated with star-shaped lanterns or clay lamps placed on rooftops to signify that Jesus is "the light of the world" 1,406,631,776
United StatesYes12/25/2022Both the spiritual and secular aspects of Christmas are widely celebrated in the United States. Regional communities often incorporate customs from their homelands, such as the mummers' parade in Philadelphia or the appearance of paper-lantern "farolitos" in Latino communities334,805,269
IndonesiaYes12/25/2022Many regions have their own unique holiday customs. For example, Christmas trees in Bali are often made from chicken feathers279,134,505
PakistanUnofficially12/25/2022Dec. 25 is Quaid-e-Azam Day, which celebrates the birth of Pakistan's founder. The tiny Christian minority are allowed by law to celebrate Christmas, but often do so discreetly for fear of violence from individuals229,488,994
NigeriaYes12/25/2022The day after Christmas, many churches go on a short trip, symbolizing the journey of the wise men, and celebrate with a "love feast"216,746,934
BrazilYes12/25/2022Some say Santa Claus wears silk to stay cool in Brazil, where Christmas occurs during the summer215,353,593
BangladeshYes12/25/2022Christmas is known as “Bara Din,” which means “the big day” in Bengali167,885,689
RussiaYes1/7/2022Christmas was abolished from 1929 to 1992, but New Year's Day became very Christmas-adjacent, absorbing traditions such as tree-decorating and the Santa-like "Winter Father" 145,805,947
MexicoYes12/25/2022Christmas beings in earnest on Dec. 12, the day the nativity scene is set up, and runs through Three Kings' Day on Jan 06131,562,772
JapanYes12/25/2022Few Christians, but the secular aspect of the holiday is quite popular. The traditional Christmas Eve meal is fried chicken from the U.S.-based chain KFC 125,584,838
EthiopiaYes1/7/2022In addition to Christmas, Ethiopians celebrate Timkat, a three-day event commemorating Jesus' baptism, starting on Jan 19120,812,698
PhilippinesYes12/25/2022The most popular Christmas decoration in the Philppines is the "parol," a multicolored, star-shaped paper lantern hung on a bamboo pole, which symbolizes the star of Bethlehem112,508,994
EgyptYes1/7/2022Celebrations often include stories of the years Joseph, Mary, and Jesus spent in Egypt after escaping King Herod106,156,692
VietnamUnofficially12/25/2022Largely secular in nature. Those who do celebrate tend to follow French customs, such as ending the Christmas "reveillon," or feast, with a "bûche de Noël," a log-shaped chocolate cake98,953,541
DR CongoYes12/25/2022Many churches perform marathon Christmas Eve plays that depict Biblical stories from creation until King Herod's order to kill all the young boys of Israel, with Jesus' birth timed to take place as close to midnight as possible 95,240,792
IranUnofficially1/6/2022Christians in Iran are usually Armenian immigrants, who celebrate on Jan. 6-7. Muslim Iranians can be jailed or killed for becoming Christian86,022,837
TurkeyUnofficiallyBothLess than 1% of this Muslim majority country is Christian, but those that do dwell there are free to worship. The original Saint Nicholas lived in the region that is now Turkey85,561,976
GermanyYes12/25/2022Germany is known for the thousands of enchanting Christmas markets that pop up during the holiday season83,883,596
ThailandUnofficially12/25/2022Thailand is overwhelmingly Buddhist, but its people are accepting of Christians. Santa often appears in schools, and Christmas celebrations and decorations are quite common, particularly in cities and tourist areas70,078,203
United KingdomYes12/25/2022The U.K. originated the idea of "Boxing Day," the day after Christmas, in which servants were given the day off (often with gifts) and the donation boxes in churches were opened and their contents given to those in need68,497,907
FranceYes12/25/2022French nativity scenes often include additional figures such as a butcher, baker, priest, or policeman. Christmas dinner may feature up to 13 desserts65,584,518
TanzaniaYes12/25/2022Tribes in this Christian-majority African country tend to keep the focus simple by attending church services and sharing a festive day with family, though new clothes and small gifts for the children may also be exchanged63,298,550
South AfricaYes12/25/2022South African Christmas follows most European traditions, but because it's summer in December, Christmas often also involves camping, the beach, or a traditional South African barbeque feast called a braai60,756,135
ItalyYes12/25/2022Italians love nativity scenes, and often add extra animals, people, or structures. Naples' nativity scene reportedly includes more than 600 pieces60,262,770
KenyaYes12/25/2022Families gather together from all around, often seeing one another for the only time that year56,215,221
MyanmarYes12/25/2022Christmas is technically a government holiday, but the democratic government was desposed in a 2021 military coup55,227,143
ColombiaYes12/25/2022Christmas celebration begins with "Noche de las velitas" ("candle night") on Dec. 07, followed by nightly "novenas" celebrations from Dec. 16 until Christmas51,512,762
South KoreaYes12/25/2022Christianity is the largest religion in this largely secular nation, where Christmas is viewed as not only a religious and family-oriented holiday, but also a romantic one akin to Valentine's Day51,329,899
UgandaYes12/25/2022Christmas is called "Sekukkulu" in Uganda. Santa Claus is not part of the tradition, but foods made with Matooke (an indigenous fruit) are a staple. 48,432,863
SpainYes12/25/2022Midnight mass in Spain is known as "La Misa Del Gallo" (The Mass of the Rooster), after which people often take to the streets to play guitar, drums, and tambourines. Most presents are opened on Jan. 06 (the Epiphany)46,719,142
ArgentinaYes12/25/2022Paper lanterns, called '"globos," are often released on Christmas Eve46,010,234
SudanYesBothChristmas celebrations were declared illegal in this Muslim majority country in 2011, but the ban was lifted in 2021, enabling Christians to worship again, and both Dec. 25 and Jan. 07 were declared national holidays45,992,020
AlgeriaNo-Algeria is less than 2% Christian, though shops may offer secular Christmas items for expats and tourists45,350,148
UkraineYesBothIn some parts of Ukraine, Christmas trees include an ornament shaped like a spider's web. This is a reference to the tale of the "Christmas spider," in which a poor family discovers on Christmas morning that spiderwebs in their tree have turned to silver and gold43,192,122
IraqYes12/25/2022Christmas was made a national holiday in 2018. The nonreligious aspects of the holiday are rapidly gaining in popularity42,164,965
AfghanistanNo-Christmas and Christianity are actively—and at times violently—discouraged by the current rulers of Afghanistan40,754,388
CanadaYes12/25/2022Different regional traditions include a taffy pull for singles and both "mummering" and "belsnickeling," in which costumed Santas go door-to-door38,388,419
MoroccoUnofficially12/25/2022Secular Christmas is becoming more prominent (especially in cities), but many people in this Muslim nation are unclear about whether Islam allows the holiday37,772,756
PolandYes12/25/2022Polish people often leave a spare seat at the holiday table to commemorate passed or absent loved ones and so they are prepared to welcome a "niespodziewany gość," or "unexpected guest"37,739,785
Saudi ArabiaUnofficially12/25/2022Christmas was previously banned in this rigidly Muslim country, but government regulations have loosened in recent years, enabling citizens to begin to partake in the secular aspect of Christmas35,844,909
AngolaYes12/25/2022Traditional foods include polenta-like "pirão" or "funge," spaghetti, french fries, turkey, fried chicken, various fish dishes, and "bolo rei" cake for dessert35,027,343
UzbekistanNoBothdeclaring it 34,382,084
PeruYes12/25/2022Peruvians preparing for Christmas often host "chocolatadas"—gatherings in which people get together and drink hot chocolate and share "panetón" (for "panettone," the Italian Christmas sweet bread)33,684,208
MalaysiaYes12/25/2022Few Christians, but the secular holiday is widely celebrated, though decorations are taken down immediately in preparation for New Year's celebrations33,181,072
MozambiqueYes12/25/2022Alternately called "Family Day," but still retains most of the Christmas trappings, including church services, trees, and family gatherings33,089,461
GhanaYes12/25/2022Christmas feasts are a main focus, with people eating up to five times a day during the two-week holiday celebration32,395,450
YemenNo-Yemen is mired in a violent civil war, which has exacerbated an ongoing famine. The few Christians remaining in the country are heavily, and sometimes violently persecuted. Conversion from Islam to Christianity is often punishable by banishment or death31,154,867
NepalYes12/25/2022Traditional Christmas dishes in Nepal include "sel roti" (fried bread), "dal bhat tarkari" (vegetable curry), "thukpa" (chicken soup), "momos" (meat dumplings), and "yomari" (sesame dumplings)30,225,582
VenezuelaYes12/25/2022Christmas fireworks are very popular in this South American country. In the capital, Caracas, so many people rollerskate to morning church services from Dec. 16-24 that authorities often close the roads to vehicular traffic29,266,991
MadagascarYes12/25/2022Despite being native to Mexico, poinsettia trees are the floral emblem of Madagascar, where they are beloved 29,178,077
CameroonYes12/25/2022Holiday traditions include French-inspired "Buche de Noel," a rolled cake that resembles a yule log27,911,548
Ivory CoastYes12/25/2022Christmas Eve church services start at midnight and often last up to six hours, with poems, skits, and dances added to the sermons27,742,298
NigerYes12/25/2022Although Christmas is a national holiday, less than 1% of Niger's people are Christians, so the holiday is only lightly celebrated26,083,660
AustraliaYes12/25/2022Christmas happens in the summer, caroling is popular, and children often leave carrots for Santa's reindeer26,068,792
North KoreaNo-Ruled by an authoritarian regime, this country has prohibited Christmas celebrations25,990,679
TaiwanUnofficially12/25/2022Although Dec. 25 is Constitution Day and Christmas is not a national holiday, the Taiwanese are quite familiar with and welcoming toward the secular elements of the holiday23,888,595
Burkina FasoYes12/25/2022Children in this country build clay "cribs" to symbolize the birthplace of Jesus22,102,838
Sri LankaYes12/25/2022Christmas celebrations in this Asian country are influenced by British, Dutch, and Portuguese customs, and begin with firecrackers on the morning of Dec. 0121,575,842
MaliYes12/25/2022While Christmas has little secular presence in this majority Muslim country, the Christian minority celebrates with all-night Christmas Eve church services21,473,764
MalawiYes12/25/2022As in many poor South African nations, Christmas in Malawi is sparse by Western traditions and focused upon time spent with family 20,180,839
ZambiaYes12/25/2022Carolers in Zambia often perform for donations which are turned over to charity, and children are encouraged to bring gifts to other children who are less-fortunate or hospitalized19,470,234
SyriaYes12/25/2022According to Syrian legend, the littlest camel in the three wise men's caravan was exhausted by the journey, but refused to give up the chance to meet the baby Jesus. Upon learning of the little camel's devotion, Jesus blessed it with immortality and entrusted it to bring gifts to children every year19,364,809
ChileYes12/25/2022Popular holiday drink is "cola de mono" (translated "monkey’s tail"), a blend of milk, coffee, sugar, cinnamon, and alcohol19,250,195
KazakhstanYes1/7/2022Christians are a minority and follow the Orthodox church. The New Year's holiday co-opted most secular elements, including decorated trees and a bearded "Snow Father" who brings presents on New Year's Eve 19,205,043
RomaniaYes12/25/2022Romanian Christmas traditions include "dubasi," which are bands of unmarried male drummers (accompanied by sax and violin), and the "capra," a person dressed as a goat who causes mischief within choirs of carolers19,031,335
GuatemalaYes12/25/2022On Dec. 07, Guatemalans celebrate "La Quema del Diablo" (The Burning of the Devil), in which they set fire to pinata-like caricatures of Satan18,584,039
EcuadorYes12/25/2022Christmas Eve parades can take all day and always end with a float carrying a statue of the baby Jesus, or "Niño Viajero"18,113,361
SenegalUnofficially12/25/2022Senegal's Muslim majority lives in harmony with the Christian minority and many Muslims share in the Christmas celebration, even decorating mosques with Christmas trees17,653,671
ChadYes12/25/2022Chad is a Muslim nation, but still celebrates Christmas as a time to be together with family17,413,580
NetherlandsYes12/25/2022Santa Claus ("Sinterklaas") comes the night of Dec. 05 in Netherlands, but typically returns with more presents on Dec. 25. 17,211,447
CambodiaUnofficially12/25/2022Cambodia is 88%-95% buddhist, but secular aspects of Christmas are growing in popularity17,168,639
SomaliaNo-Christmas celebrations are banned in this country, where non-Muslim traditions are seen as an offense to the faith16,841,795
ZimbabweYes12/25/2022Traditional Christmases in Zimbabwe include new shoes and clothes for the children, a trip to church in the morning, and afternoons spent visiting friends and loved ones at one house party after another 15,331,428
GuineaYes12/25/2022Though Christians make up only about 10% of this country's population, holiday festivals are generally welcomed13,865,691
RwandaYes12/25/2022While Rwandans are free to celebrate Christmas, the New Year's holiday is of vastly greater national significance13,600,464
BeninYes12/25/2022Few people in this country can afford gifts, so the focus is upon celebrating with family12,784,726
BurundiYes12/25/2022Christmas is largely about gathering together, celebrating, and dancing12,624,840
TunisiaUnofficially12/25/2022Christmas is just another work day for most people in this Muslim country. That said, the tiny Christian minority celebrates freely and many merchants and hotels offer Christmas-themed items12,046,656
BoliviaYes12/25/2022Christmas occurs on Dec. 25, but children leave their shoes outside on Jan. 06 and awake to find them filled with presents11,992,656
HaitiYes12/25/2022Christmas includes making "fanals" (from the French word for "lantern"), which are paper lanterns made to look like houses and lit with candles (and which are shaped like boats in Gambia)11,680,283
BelgiumYes12/25/2022"Sinterklaas/St. Niklaas" brings gifts on Dec. 5 or 6, while Christ's birth is celebrated on Dec 25 11,668,278
South SudanYes12/25/2022Many of this Christian nation's 67 tribes have their own holiday traditions, from fixing up the house and teaching younger generations to partying with loved ones 11,618,511
CubaYes12/25/2022Fidel Castro canceled the national Christmas holiday in 1969, but reinstated it as a "leisure day" in 1998, at the pope's request11,305,652
Dominican RepublicYes12/25/2022Christmas celebrations begin in October and often include fireworks. Instead of fresh-cut trees, most people decorate carved trees called "charamicos"11,056,370
Czech RepublicYes12/25/2022Christmas folk traditions including placing fish scales under dinner plates to ensure financial success and cutting an apple in half to predict one's upcoming health10,736,784
GreeceYes12/25/2022Celebrations last from Christmas Eve to the Epiphany Jan. 06. and often include the decorating of small boats and the baking of "Christopsomo," an elaborately decorated hoilday bread10,316,637
JordanYes12/25/2022While only 10% of Jordan is Christian, the Muslim majority welcomes Christmas and enjoys the holiday's secular elements10,300,869
AzerbaijanUnofficially12/25/2022The Azerbaijani Santa, Shakhta Babah, comes on New Year’s Eve10,300,205
HondurasYes12/25/2022As in many American and African countries, Christmas is often celebrated with fireworks and "estreno", or "new clothes"10,221,247
SwedenYes12/25/2022Sweden also celebrates St. Lucia Day on Dec. 13. The holiday commemorates a young girl, martyred in 304 AD, who secretly delivered food to persecuted Christians hiding in the catacombs of Rome10,218,971
PortugalYes12/25/2022From Christmas through the start of January, the Portuguese go door to door with a picture of Jesus and sing "Janeiras" (January songs). Hosts who do not invite the carolers inside to warm up and have a snack may be ridiculed in song 10,140,570
United Arab EmiratesUnofficially12/25/2022Christmas is not a national holiday in this Muslim-majority country, but its secular aspects are typically embraced, especially in tourist-friendly locations. The Emirates Palace hotel in Abu Dhabi erects the world's most expensive Christmas tree each year, with ornaments worth millions of dollars10,081,785
TajikistanNo-This former Soviet state has outlawed both the Christian and Secular aspects of Christmas, including the giving of gifts and sharing of feasts9,957,464
HungaryYes12/25/2022Saint Nicholas ("Mikulás" in Hungarian) visits Dec. 06 and puts goodies in children's shoes, but the larger gifts come from baby Jesus the night of Dec. 249,606,259
BelarusYesBothA popular holiday film is "S Legkim Parom" (translated "The Irony of Fate" or "Enjoy your Bath"), a romantic comedy about a man who gets very lost after having a sauna with friends.9,432,800
Papua New GuineaYes12/25/2022This South Pacific nation first welcomed Christianity some 200 years ago and shares many of the same Christmas traditions as nearby Australia9,292,169
AustriaYes12/25/2022Most presents come from the “Christkind” (baby Jesus), but Santa and his horned opposite Krampus may still visit9,066,710
IsraelUnofficially12/25/2022Less than 3% of Israel is Christian, but those who are have the freedom to celebrate as they choose8,922,892
SwitzerlandYes12/25/2022Many Swiss communities have traditions in which people parade through town, often in masks or costumes, making noise, banging drums, and/or singing to either ward off evil spirits or wish neighbors a good upcoming year8,773,637
TogoYes12/25/2022Holiday traditions in Togo, which is more than 40% Christian, are heavily influenced by French customs, both the spiritual (church services) and the secular (Santa, Christmas trees) 8,680,837
SerbiaYes1/7/2022In Serbian tradition, girls went out Christmas morning to collect "strong water," which was said to have special powers. It was often included when making "česnica," an ornate holiday bread8,653,016
Sierra LeoneYes12/25/2022Christmas in Sierra Leone is known for its numerous street carnivals and copious amounts of food, much of which is sent to friends who respond by sending food gifts of their own8,306,436
Hong KongYes12/25/2022A former British colony, Hong Kong may celebrate Christmas more enthusiastically than any other country in Asia. The territory-wide "Winterfest" celebration is a highlight7,604,299
LaosUnofficially12/25/2022Laos is more than 98% Muslim, but the roughly 2% of the population who are Christians are free to celebrate as they wish7,481,023
ParaguayYes12/25/2022As in many countries, nativity scenes are deeply important in Paraguay, with families often arranging the figures on boards covered in real soil with sprouted rice serving as vegetation7,305,843
LibyaNo-Most Libyans are Muslim and so do not celebrate Christmas, and Christians are violently persecuted by some Libyan groups7,040,745
BulgariaYes12/25/2022Traditional Christmas Eve meal includes a loaf of bread with a coin inside, which will grant good fortune to whomever finds it6,844,597
NicaraguaYes12/25/2022Nicaragua's Christmas celebration begins the evening of Dec. 07, La Purísima, when the the immaculate conception is celebrated with fireworks, sweets, and carolers6,779,100
KyrgyzstanYes1/7/2022As in many other post-Soviet countries, the trees, gift-giving, and other secular aspects of Christmas take place on New Year's Eve instead 6,728,271
LebanonYesBothAs Lebanon has significant numbers of both Orthodox and non-Orthodox Christians, the government celebrates both Christmas on Dec. 25 and Armenian Orthodox Christmas on Jan. 066,684,849
El SalvadorYes12/25/2022Popular Christmas traditions include fireworks, nativity scenes, and going to the beach on Christmas Day6,550,389
TurkmenistanUnofficially12/25/2022More than 90% Muslim, Turkmenistan does not treat Christmas as a national holiday, but the Christian minority is free to worship as they wish. Secular Christmas traditions are rarely seen6,201,943
SingaporeYes12/25/2022Less than 20% of the population is Christian, but secular aspects of Christmas are enthusiastically embraced by all. Popular Christmas tree decorations include candy, ribbons and teddy bears5,943,546
DenmarkYes12/25/2022Traditional Christmas dessert is "risalamande," a rice pudding made with vanilla and almonds and often covered with warm cherry sauce5,834,950
Republic of the CongoYes12/25/2022Christmas celebrations in Congo center around church services and activities, which often incorporate plays and musical performances and can last for hours5,797,805
FinlandYes12/25/2022Finland is the home country of Santa Claus—whose Finnish name, "Joulupukki," references the fact that Finnish Santa was originally a frightening goat who asked people to give him presents5,554,960
NorwayYes12/25/2022Norwegians often decorate their Christmas trees with heart-shaped paper baskets called "Julekurver"5,511,370
SlovakiaYes12/25/2022One of the most beloved Christmas movies in Slovakia is "Tri oriešky pre popolušku" ("Three Gifts for Cinderella"), a wintery retelling of the Cinderella tale with magic walnuts in place of the Fairy Godmother5,460,193
PalestineYesBothPalestinian territory includes Bethlehem, where Jesus was born. The region is only 20% Christian, but because some are Orthodox and others are not, both Dec. 25 and Jan. 07 are government holidays5,345,541
OmanUnofficially12/25/2022While Oman is a Muslim-majority nation, Christians are welcome to to celebrate their faith, and the secular aspect of Christmas is observed by many5,323,993
LiberiaYes12/25/2022Founded by freed American slaves, Liberia shares most U.S. Christmas traditions but has added one: Old Man Beggar, a jolly beggar in ragged clothes who often competes with Santa to see who is the better entertainer5,305,117
Costa RicaYes12/25/2022Celebrations last until the Feast of the Three Kings on Jan. 06, which commemorates the wise men's arrival in Bethlehem5,182,354
IrelandYes12/25/2022Uniquely Irish Christmas traditions include swimming in the Irish Sea and reading James Joyce's short story, "The Dead"5,020,199
Central African RepublicYes12/25/2022Poverty is an ongoing concern in this African country, but the holiday is still observed5,016,678
MauritaniaNo-Although they do celebrate the winter solstice on Dec. 21, the people of this nearly 100% Muslim country typically ignore Christmas4,901,981
New ZealandYes12/25/2022Children may leave pineapple out for Santa. New Zealand's own native "Christmas tree", the Pōhutukawa, is a broad, umbrella-shaped tree that sports massive red flowers in December4,898,203
PanamaYes12/25/2022In addition to Christmas feasts and celebrations, Panamanians often craft "muñeca," large paper-mache figures resembling celebrities or politicians whom they dislike, and burn them on New Year's Eve4,446,964
KuwaitUnofficially12/25/2022While the small Christian minority is generally allowed to celebrate Christmas, conservative Muslims often take offense if towns or businesses decorate4,380,326
CroatiaYes12/25/2022One old Croatian tradition is for young men to give their girlfriends a decorated apple for Christmas 4,059,286
MoldovaYesBothDeeply Christian but divided between two churches following different calendars, Moldovans celebrate on Dec. 25 or Jan. 074,013,171
GeorgiaYes1/7/2022Georgian Christmas trees, or "chichilaki", are hand-carved from dried wood and burned on Jan. 19th as a symbol that the past year's troubles are gone3,968,738
EritreaYesBothMost Eritrean Christians are Orthodox. As in many countries with Orthodox churches, they go on a 40-day vegan fast and eat no meat from Nov. 25 until Christmas3,662,244
UruguayUnofficially12/25/2022While the government calls Dec. 25 the "Day of the Family," it is Christmas in all but name, complete with a visit from "Papa Noel." However, the larger gift-giving day is Jan. 06, "Children's Day," which celebrates the arrival of "Los tres Reyes Magos" (the three magi kings) in Bethlehem3,496,016
MongoliaNo-Influenced by the former Soviet Union, the people of this Buddhist nation do not celebrate Christmas, but do put up New Year's trees and await a visit from "Grandpa Winter"3,378,078
Bosnia And HerzegovinaYesBothCelebrated Dec. 25 by Catholics and Jan. 07 by Orthodox Christians, holiday meals often include fish, greens, and hurmašica cake for dessert3,249,317
JamaicaYes12/25/2022Holiday traditions include the "jonkanoo" parade of costumed characters and the Grand Market, a combination bazaar and street festival2,985,094
QatarUnofficially12/25/2022While Qatar is a Muslim majority nation, hotels and shops celebrate the holiday for tourists, expats, and the small Christian minority2,979,915
ArmeniaYes1/6/2022Usually celebrated January 6th, as Aremenians are largely Orthodox. Religious focus, typically without Santa Claus2,971,966
AlbaniaUnofficially12/25/2022Albania is an atheist state, but the secular aspects of Christmas are gaining in popularity2,866,374
LithuaniaYes12/25/2022Christmas traditions include watching the film Home Alone, having 12 dishes at dinner, and eating "Kūčiukai," which are tiny biscuits served in a bowl of poppy milk2,661,708
NamibiaYes12/25/2022Namibians often enjoy German Christmas cookies or Dutch "Appelflappen" beignets as part of their holiday tradition2,633,874
GambiaYes12/25/2022Celebration includes parades of "fanals," elaborate boat-shaped lanterns made of bamboo and paper2,558,482
BotswanaYes12/25/2022Christmas traditions include visiting one another's cattle grazing land and singing carols2,441,162
GabonYes12/25/2022Many regions of this 80% Christian nation incorporate bits of indigenous tradition into their Christmas celebration2,331,533
LesothoYes12/25/2022A common holiday drink in Lesotho is "joala ba sesotho," a homemade beer which takes roughly four days to prepare2,175,699
North MacedoniaYes1/7/2022In this Orthodox nation, the Christmas holiday begins with caroling on Jan. 05, or "Kolede," and typically lasts until three days after Christmas2,081,304
SloveniaYes12/25/2022A Slovenian custom holds that the women of each family would gather together and bake three loaves of holiday bread: one for Christmas, one for New Year's, and one for Jan. 06, the day the wise men arrived at Bethlehem 2,078,034
LatviaYes12/25/2022Latvia claims the first recorded instance of a Christmas tree, having erected one in its capital city, Riga, in 15101,848,837
BahrainNo-While the country does not celebrate Christmas, many hotels and shops offer Christmas event and items for tourists1,783,983
Equatorial GuineaYes12/25/2022In addition to the usual Roman Catholic celebrations, revelers in the Bioko region often perform a traditional dance called "balélé"1,496,662
Trinidad And TobagoYes12/25/2022Revelers in this country often form roaming bands of carolers and sing "parang", a Spanish-language music that combines the styles of Venezuela and Trinidad and is often accompanied by guitars, violins, maracas, and wood blocks1,406,585
Timor LesteYes12/25/2022Many towns in this largely Catholic country in the South Pacific construct life-sized nativity scenes, which the town children keep watch over for all twelve days of Christmas, until the Epiphany on Jan. 061,369,429
EstoniaYes12/25/2022Traditional Christmas foods include blood sausage, sauerkraut, tangerines and gingerbread. Santa is known to ask for poems in exchange for gifts1,321,910
MauritiusYes12/25/2022Although Christmas comes mid-summer, most of the traditional Western celebrations remain, from church services and Santa Claus to the French-inspired Bûche de Noël (Yule Log) cake for dessert1,274,727
CyprusYes12/25/2022Cypriot traditions tell of mischievous spirits called "kalikantzari" (or calicantzari) that could enter houses through the chimney from Christmas Eve until Jan. 06 1,223,387
EswatiniYes12/25/2022Christmas in this developing country is focused upon worship and having special meals with family and friends1,184,817
DjiboutiYes12/25/2022Though the Christian population is small, the holiday is eagerly observed1,016,097
FijiYes12/25/2022Celebrations often include traditional fan dances by women and spear dances by men909,466
ComorosNo-In this Muslim nation, it is illegal to openly celebrate Christian theology and traditions907,419
GuyanaYes12/25/2022The traditional Christmas meal is pepperpot, a rich stew made with cinnamon, clove, brown sugar, orange peel, hot pepper, and cassareep, a syrupy brown sauce extraced from the cassava root794,045
BhutanUnofficially12/25/2022Bhutan is less than 1% Christian but the holiday's secular aspect is growing in popularity787,941
Solomon IslandsYes12/25/2022Christmas in this former British Colony in Oceania is largely non-commercial, devoted instead to church services and spending time with loved ones721,159
MacauYes12/25/2022The "Las Vegas of Asia" was a Portuguese colony until 1999 and follows many European Christmas traditions667,490
LuxembourgYes12/25/2022The traditional Christmas meal is "Träipen mat Gromperenzalot,” a sort of black pudding with potatoes and often applesauce. 642,371
MontenegroYes1/7/2022Christmas traditions include spreading straw under the table and clucking like a chicken, which symbolizes the Bethlehem stable and Christ's desire for his people to gather together and follow him627,950
SurinameYes12/25/2022This South American country welcomes Santa, who has dark skin and is known as "Goedoe Pa" (Dearest Daddy), the night of Dec. 05, enabling citizens to focus fully on Christ's birth on Dec. 25596,831
Cape VerdeYes12/25/2022This African island country is largely Roman Catholic and follows most Christian traditions, including feasts, family, and caroling567,678
MaldivesNo-While many resorts catering to tourists eagerly welcome the Christmas season, the country as a whole ignores it540,985
BruneiNo-Public Christmas celebrations were banned in Brunei in 2015, with violators subject to fines or imprisonment up to five years. Oddly, Christmas Day is still a government holiday445,431
MaltaYes12/25/2022In Malta's unique holiday tradition "Priedka tat-Tifel," which translates to "the preaching of the child," a youngster aged 7-10 preaches the sermon at midnight mass444,033
BelizeYes12/25/2022Celebrated with boat parades and costume-heavy Christmas dances including the "charikanari," in which a hunter searches for a "two-foot cow"412,190
BahamasYes12/25/2022Celebrations revolve around "junkanoo" parades, complete with music and elaborate, Mardi-Gras-style costumes400,516
IcelandYes12/25/2022Christmas lasts from Dec. 11 to Jan. 06 (26 days) during which thirteen "Yule Lads" visit in turn, leaving gifts in children's shoes345,393
VanuatuYes12/25/2022Although many people in this island nation will attend church services on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, the holiday is predominantly about reuniting with family and friends and sharing time with them321,832
BarbadosYes12/25/2022Traditional foods include great cake (fruitcake, often frosted), jug jug (haggis-like dish with peas and salted meat) and baked ham288,023
Sao Tome And PrincipeYes12/25/2022Christmas is one of the most eagerly celebrated days of the year in this majority Catholic country, which focuses more on the spiritual aspect of the day than its secular elements227,679
SamoaYes12/25/2022Christmas in this predominantly Catholic nation includes a 13-day carol singing event so popular it is broadcast on national television202,239
Saint LuciaYes12/25/2022Saint Lucia's best-known holiday tradition is "bamboo bursting," in which locals ignite fuel poured into hollowed bamboo canes, which then make a cannon-like boom185,113
KiribatiYes12/25/2022Thanks to the warm weather in this island nation, Christmas celebrations often include activities such as camping, canoe racing, or fishing contests123,419
MicronesiaYes12/25/2022Christmas day is often spent in hours-long church celebrations. Micronesia is also a partner in Operation Christmas Drop, an annual event in which the U.S. Air Force practices delivering humnitarian supplies by dropping crates filled with food, toys, and other needed items 117,489
GrenadaYes12/25/2022Popular holiday dessert is "black Christmas cake", a dense, rich cake filled with fruit that has soaked in wine and rum since October113,475
Saint Vincent And the GrenadinesYes12/25/2022The "Nine Mornings" festival in this country features 3am church services followed by street parades, music, and dancing that often runs until 7am every day from Dec. 16 to 24111,551
TongaYes12/25/2022This multi-island nation enjoys the unique tradition of "tutukupakanava," also called Tongan Christmas lights, in which coconut husks are arranged on a beach and set aflame107,749
Antigua And BarbudaYes12/25/2022Classic celebrations included "long ghosts," masked figures up to 12 feet tall that would peek inside windows and request donations99,509
SeychellesYes12/25/2022Christmas in this tropical island nation greatly resembles Christmas in any developed Christian country, complete with family time, food, church services, trees, and gifts99,426
AndorraYes12/25/2022Traditional decorations include a small log with a face drawn on one end and "the caganer," a squatting person with their pants down77,463
DominicaYes12/25/2022Tradition says one must deep-clean one's home before Christmas Eve even if no guests are expected72,344
Marshall IslandsYes12/25/2022Holiday celebrations in this island nation involves months of planning and playful day-long song-and-dance competitions between groups called jeptas60,057
GreenlandYes12/25/2022The traditional Christmas decoration in Greenland is a star-shaped paper lantern56,973
Saint Kitts And NevisYes12/25/2022Christmas in this Caribbean country is followed by J'ouvert morning on Dec. 26, when residents don carnival costumes and dance in musical street parades that start as early as 5am53,871
MonacoYes12/25/2022One Christmas tradition calls for thirteen desserts, symbolizing Christ and the twelve apostles. The final dessert is "La Pompe," a sweet bread that is broken by hand, as Christ broke bread at the Last Supper. 39,783
LiechtensteinYes12/25/2022Also celebrated is the Epiphany on Jan. 06, commemorating the wise men's arrival in Bethlehem38,387
San MarinoYes12/25/2022Christmas highlights in this tiny microcountry include an ice rink and a neighborhood-sized holiday market that transforms the area near Campo Bruno Reffi34,085
PalauYes12/25/2022The holidays in this largely Christian country focus upon appreciating the birth of Jesus and gathering together with family18,233
TuvaluYes12/25/2022Christmas in Tuvalu is typically focused upon church services and spending time with family ... possibly at the beach12,066
NauruYes12/25/2022The people of this majority Christian nation, one of the smallest countries in the world, often include cakes made with banana or coconut in their Christmas celebrations 10,903

Countries That Celebrate Christmas 2022

Sources