Joyeux Noël (Merry Christmas)

Kyle Jennings, Staff Writer

While the traditional Christian Christmas and its traditions are popular in the American Midwest, Europeans celebrate Christmas in many different ways. Almost all European countries celebrate a different form of Christmas based on culture and religion.

Christmas in America is celebrated as a national holiday on December 25th of every year to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. While the holiday comes from Christianity, it is celebrated by many different groups of people. American traditions vary from family to family, but some of the basic traditions are family gatherings, eating food, and giving presents.

Europeans, on the other hand, celebrate Christmas quite differently; for example, in Germany it is believed that St. Nick, or der Weihnachtsmann, comes on December 6th and December 24th instead of the 25th. France’s Christmas is heavily based on religion where the French leave out burning logs with food and wine just in case Mary and Jesus come by in the night. Santa, in France, is named Père Noël and is accompanied by Le Pere Fouettard, who brings gifts to children who have been good and punishes children who have been bad. In England traditions are similar to American traditions where trees are decorated, multiple families celebrate together, and children receive gifts. 

American pop culture has picked up some of these countries’ Christmas traditions, such as in the American version of The Office, where Dwight Schrute dresses up as the Belsnickel, whose folklore is popular in southern Germany and Denmark.

Even though Christmas is celebrated differently in most countries, the messages and values are similar. Christmas represents a time when families come together and celebrate the year.