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Traditional Christmas decorations from around the world

Do you deck your halls with boughs of holly, hang stockings by the fireplace or top your tree with an angel? Although spending time with family is a universal tradition during this special time of year, Christmas customs vary around the world. If you’re looking for new Christmas decoration ideas this holiday season, bring some globally inspired influences into your home.

Santander - Traditional Christmas decorations from around the world

Tannenbaum in Germany

The German holiday season revolves around the famous Christmas market. At the end of November, almost every village, town and city alike hosts a bustling market in the local square. The fragrance of mulled wine and roasted chestnuts invites visitors to browse stalls filled to the brim with artisan crafts, food and drinks. The Christmas trees (or Tannenbaum) are decorated with twinkling white lights or candles. This traditional Christmas decoration is said to stem from Martin Luther in the 1600s, who used candles to represent heavenly stars. In Bavaria, straws are cleverly crafted into seasonal shapes and secured to tree branches with fine threads.

Poinsettias in Spain

If you want to decorate like a Spaniard, bring bright blooms of scarlet poinsettias into the home. These grow abundantly in the Canary Islands and are synonymous with Christmas. Many Spaniards place a tray of seasonal sweets like candied fruit and marzipan near the front door to greet visitors during the festive period, while balconies and terraces are decorated with figures of the three kings or Papa Noel.

Nativity scenes in Italy

In addition to sharing traditional cakes like panettone and decorating the Christmas tree with fairy lights and handcrafted ornaments, the nativity scene or ‘presepe’ is a popular sight in Italian churches and homes alike. Children play a part in the decoration, adding intricately carved or painted figurines to the nativity sets leading up to Christmas Eve, when the baby Jesus is placed in his manger. Integrate this tradition at home by displaying your own nativity scene, whether you prefer rustic hand-carved wooden statues or sleek glass figures placed by the tree.

Fresh wreaths in France

French Christmas decorations start outdoors with a fancifully festive wreath decked with ribbons, pine cones and nuts. A second wreath is also often placed on a table four weeks before Christmas, crafted from fresh foliage and adorned with delicate ribbons. Four candles representing peace, love, hope and joy are placed in the wreath, with one lit each Sunday in the weeks leading up to Christmas Day. Trees are lush and tastefully decorated with more candles and ribbons, typically topped with a star.

Twinkling lights in the United States

Traditional Christmas decoration varies regionally in the United States, but what unites this broad country is a love for decking the home’s exterior in lights. Drive through any American suburb around the holidays and you’ll spy houses lovingly festooned in brightly coloured Christmas lights, often complemented with life-sized light-up Santa Claus and reindeer figures on the rooftop. For interior Christmas decoration ideas, why not borrow the American tradition of draping garlands of popcorn on the tree?

Use these traditional Christmas decorations from around the world to bring international cheer into your holiday home. For more ideas, read our outdoor decorating tips and lavish your home with the spirit of the season. 


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