Christmas traditions around the world exporters should know about

Fri 15 Dec 2017
Posted by: William Barns-Graham

Christmas in Mexico

With Christmas, like with international trade, it’s always fascinating to think about the differences around the world in different countries and markets.

It’s probably a little late to come up with an export strategy to maximise Christmas sales this December, but there’s always next year. 

So with that in mind, here are some interesting little cultural differences in how key markets for the UK’s exporters traditionally celebrate Christmas.

Christmas in South Africa

One of the obvious first things to say about any southern hemisphere country is that Christmas is obviously affected by it being the summer rather than the winter down there. As such, families will often do summer activities like camping and barbecues rather than sit in by the fireplace in woolly jumpers.

Otherwise, given South Africa’s historic relationship with the UK, many of the festive customs the rainbow nation celebrates aren’t too dissimilar to what we’d see here – just a very different setting!

For more on Christmas in South Africa go to:

For more market information read our Doing Business guide:

Christmas in Belgium

Nearer by, Belgium’s celebrations of Christmas are typical of Northern Europe in that the visit of Santa – or Sinterklaas – comes earlier in the month. Sinterklaas brings presents on December 5th and 6th – St Nicholas’ Eve and St Nicholas Day. Christmas day itself is preserved as more of a religious celebration.

So if you’re looking to send festive goods to Belgium next year, make sure to send them early!

For more on Christmas in Belgium go to:

For more market information read our Doing Business guide:

Christmas in Norway

Even further north in Scandinavia, Norway has a plethora of Christmas customs – some more familiar than others. For instance, Norwegians leave a sheaf of wheat out for birds to eat over Christmas. A form of rice porridge called ‘Risengrynsgrøt’ is also left out to guard farm animals from the mischievous Christmas elves or 'Julenisse'.

Norway’s Christmas remains closely related to the festivals celebrating winter and the completion of harvest that preceded it 1000 years ago. This means plenty of beer is drunk in celebration, though no longer so much in honour of the old Norse gods.

Of course Norway’s greatest contribution to the global Christmas phenomena is the Christmas fir tree.

For more on Christmas in Norway go to:

For more market information read our Doing Business guide:

Christmas in Mexico

In Mexico the Christmas tree is less prominent. Instead families will decorate the ‘nacimiento’ – or nativity scene. Figures can be bought for the nacimiento all over Mexico, with the baby Jesus added to the scene on Christmas Eve, and the Three Kings added at the Epiphany.

Mexicans decorate the nacimiento with all sorts of figures these days, ranging from women making tortillas to tropical birds like the flamingo! If you manufacture small toys or figures, Mexico at Christmas could be an interesting market for you!

For more on Christmas in Mexico go to:

For more market information read our Doing Business guide:

Christmas in India

Christmas is smaller in India compared to other religious festivals, but even though only 2.3% of Indians are Christians, this translates to a figure in the 10s of millions!

Like Mexico, Indians don’t typically decorate Christmas Trees but instead decorate indigenous banana and mango trees!  In Southern India, Christians will often put small oil burning clay lamps on their roofs to show how Jesus is the light of the world.

For more on Christmas in India go to:

For more market information read our Doing Business guide:

christmas in india

Christmas in Nigeria

Nigeria, due to historic ties with the UK, celebrates Christmas in a way not too dissimilar to what we know here. With a massive Christian population it’s also a widely celebrated festival.

Carols are sung, presents exchanged and children dress in new outfits to meet Santa Claus. However, while turkey is served, so are many other dishes from Nigeria’s rich cuisine, including beef, goat, ram, yam, jollof, and various stews.

For more on Christmas in Nigeria go to:

For more market information read our Doing Business guide:

A big wide world

The variety of customs for celebrating Christmas around the world is another reminder to the UK’s exporters to always research and understand cultural differences when entering a new market.

When doing your research, our Doing Business Guides are fantastic introductions to the cultures, opportunities and challenges in countries. You can find them all here:

And for more information about how Christmas is celebrated around the world, check out ‘Why Christmas’ at: