Bring the World to Your Home This Christmas

Christmas decorations from around the world and what they mean

Are you looking to add something new to your Christmas decorating this year? While some customs, traditions, and ornaments vary, they all celebrate the return of the light after a long dark winter, family, love, and salvation through the birth of Jesus (the Messiah, Christ child). 

Learn about some of these countries that celebrate Christmas, how they decorate, and why they do it. 


Not only in Germany, but in many European countries, Advent is an important part of the Christmas season. About 4 weeks before Christmas, typically beginning November 27th, Advent is observed. Advent means the “coming of Christ”, and every Sunday a candle is lit in preparation for it. The first Sunday candle represents hope. In the second week, the candle for hope and love is lit. In the third week, three candles are lit representing hope, love, and joy. The final candle lit is peace. When Christmas Eve arrives, you can put a white candle in the center of the advent wreath and light it along with the red ones. The light represents the light that Christ brought to the world. The candles can be all red. Some use the colors purple, pink (joy), and white (peace). 

The Advent calendar is pretty famous. Today’s children will know about the calendar that reveals a piece of chocolate behind each window, representing the days of December until Christmas Day. However, the older generation will remember the beautifully crafted, pop-out calendars, bedazzled in glitter over a beautiful Christmas portrait. Behind each window, a sweet picture, and sometimes a bible verse is attached with it.

Another kind of Advent calendar is a wreath of Fir tree branches with 24 decorated boxes or bags on it. Each box or bag has a little present in it. 

Scherenschnitte (paper cutting) is a tradition where Christmas shapes like bells and nativity scenes are cut out of paper. You can include different colored tissue paper behind the openings to make them look like stained glass.

And finally, the mother of all German Christmas decorations – the Moravian Star. Representing the star of Bethlehem, and the first glow of the stars, this ornament was created in the 1800s and is said to officially kick off the Christmas season. 


Another decorating option you can use comes to us from Scandinavia (Sweden,Greenland, Iceland, Denmark, Norway and Finland). Light is a big deal in these northern climates where darkness is no stranger, so it’s no surprise that a beautiful shining star is a staple Christmas ornament. While various countries put their own spin on the Advent or Christmas star, they all have the same meaning. Light, Love, Birth of Christ, the Star of Bethlehem that led the three magi (three wise men) to the baby Jesus.    

There are lots of tutorials online if you want to make your own, or you can buy them online. Even Ikea has them!

Swedish Advent Star

Finnish Advent Star

Danish Advent Star


Courtesy: Pinterest

The Philippines also have its own unique Christmas variation of the star of Bethlehem. Using bamboo poles or frames with a lighted star lantern, these “parols” use bamboo strips and colorful Japanese paper. Symbolizing the star that led the three wise men to Bethlehem, the parol also embodies the defeat of darkness by the light.

Do you have an interesting Christmas ornament from your part of the world? Share it!

Happy Holiday!

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