Where is the Tradition of Christmas Trees Observed Around the World?

Holidays & Special Events

By Felicity Long

Christmas is a holiday celebrated around the world, and one of its most iconic symbols is the Christmas tree. While the tradition of decorating trees during the holiday season is widely popular, it is interesting to note that not all countries embrace this custom. In this article, we will explore which countries use the Christmas tree as part of their celebrations and the significance behind this beloved tradition.

The tradition of using evergreen trees as a symbol of life and rebirth dates back centuries. It is believed to have originated in Germany in the 16th century, where people decorated trees with apples, candles, and other ornaments. From there, the tradition spread throughout Europe, eventually making its way to other parts of the world.

Today, the Christmas tree has become a widespread symbol of the holiday season in many countries. In countries like the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, it is almost impossible to imagine Christmas without a beautifully decorated tree. Families gather around the tree to exchange gifts, sing carols, and create cherished memories.

However, not all countries have adopted this tradition. In some parts of the world, such as Japan, Christmas is not widely celebrated, and the concept of a Christmas tree may be limited to certain households or commercial establishments. In other cultures, different symbols may be used to commemorate the holiday season.

Which Countries Celebrate Christmas with a Decorated Tree?

Christmas trees are a popular symbol of the holiday season and are commonly used for decoration in many countries around the world. While the tradition of using a decorated tree originated in Germany, it has spread to various parts of the globe and is now celebrated in numerous countries.

Here are some countries that celebrate Christmas with a decorated tree:

  • United States: In the United States, Christmas trees are a central part of the holiday season. Many households and public spaces decorate trees with lights, ornaments, and garlands.
  • United Kingdom: Christmas trees are also widely used in the United Kingdom. They are often adorned with colorful decorations and placed in homes, town squares, and shopping centers.
  • Canada: Canadians also enjoy decorating Christmas trees as part of their holiday celebrations. Trees are commonly seen in both private residences and public areas during the Christmas season.
  • Australia: Despite the warm weather during Christmas, Australians still embrace the tradition of decorating Christmas trees. Many households choose artificial trees that are decorated with tinsel, lights, and ornaments.
  • Germany: Considered the birthplace of the Christmas tree tradition, Germany is known for its beautifully decorated trees. Germans often place real candles on the tree and use traditional ornaments.
  • Sweden: Swedes celebrate Christmas with elaborately decorated trees, which are often adorned with candles, ornaments, and tinsel. The Christmas tree is a central part of the Swedish holiday celebrations.

These are just a few examples of countries where the tradition of celebrating Christmas with a decorated tree is popular. The use of Christmas trees as a festive decoration has become a global symbol of the holiday season.

Europe’s Christmas Tree Tradition

Europe has a long-standing tradition of using Christmas trees during the holiday season. It is believed that the tradition originated in Germany and spread to other European countries during the 19th century. Today, Christmas trees are a common sight in many European households and public spaces.

In Germany, the Christmas tree is known as “Weihnachtsbaum” and is traditionally decorated on Christmas Eve. The tree is usually adorned with lights, ornaments, and tinsel. Families gather around the tree on Christmas Eve to exchange gifts and celebrate the holiday together.

Other European countries also have their own unique traditions associated with the Christmas tree. In Sweden, for example, families often light candles on the tree to create a cozy and festive atmosphere. In Norway, it is common to have a Christmas tree made of real candles, which is lit on Christmas Eve.

In many European cities, the tradition of setting up large Christmas trees in public squares and parks has become a popular tradition. These trees are often decorated with colorful lights and serve as a focal point for holiday celebrations. One of the most famous examples is the Christmas tree at Trafalgar Square in London.

Overall, the Christmas tree tradition is deeply rooted in European culture and continues to be an important part of the holiday season for many people across the continent.

North America’s Christmas Tree Culture

North America has a rich Christmas tree culture that spans across the United States and Canada. The tradition of bringing an evergreen tree into the home and decorating it for the holiday season is deeply ingrained in North American holiday traditions.

The Christmas tree tradition in North America has its roots in German and Scandinavian customs brought over by European immigrants in the 18th and 19th centuries. These early settlers would decorate trees with candles, fruits, and small gifts, creating a festive and joyous atmosphere.

Today, finding the perfect Christmas tree has become a cherished annual tradition for many families in North America. Some families opt for artificial trees, while others enjoy the experience of visiting a local tree farm and cutting down their own tree. In cities, Christmas tree lots offer a wide selection of pre-cut trees.

Decorating the tree is a special moment for families. Garlands, lights, and ornaments are carefully placed on the branches, often with each member of the family participating. The tree becomes a centerpiece of the home, bringing warmth and holiday spirit.

North America is also known for its extravagant public Christmas trees. In the United States, the National Christmas Tree is lit each year on the White House grounds, while New York City’s Rockefeller Center boasts a gigantic tree adorned with thousands of lights and decorations.

The Christmas tree holds a special place in North American culture, symbolizing joy, togetherness, and the magic of the holiday season. Whether it’s a small tabletop tree or a towering centerpiece, the Christmas tree brings a sense of wonder and tradition to homes and communities across the continent.

Christmas Tree Customs in Latin America

In Latin America, Christmas tree customs vary from country to country, but the tree is still a central part of the holiday celebrations in many places.

In Mexico, the tradition of decorating a Christmas tree is not as widespread as in other countries. Instead, many families set up a nativity scene called a “nacimiento” that depicts the birth of Jesus. However, in some urban areas and among expatriate communities, Christmas trees have become more popular in recent years.

In Brazil, Christmas trees are a common sight in homes and public spaces. They are often decorated with lights, ornaments, and tinsel, and some families even place presents under the tree. In larger cities, public Christmas trees are often displayed in town squares or parks, and they are sometimes accompanied by festive holiday music and performances.

In Argentina, Christmas trees are also popular, especially in urban areas. Many families decorate their trees with bright lights, colorful ornaments, and garlands. In some regions, it is common to place small gifts under the tree, which are usually opened on Christmas Eve.

In Chile, the Christmas tree tradition has been influenced by both European and American customs. Many families decorate their trees with lights, ornaments, and ribbons, and some even place a small nativity scene under the tree. In recent years, there has been a trend towards using artificial trees to be more environmentally friendly.

In Colombia, Christmas trees are often decorated with traditional ornaments, such as angels, stars, and nativity scene figurines. Some families also add personal touches, such as handmade crafts or ornaments passed down through generations. In larger cities, public Christmas trees are often displayed in parks or town squares, and they are sometimes accompanied by festive light shows or fireworks.

Overall, while Christmas tree customs in Latin America may vary, the tree is still a cherished symbol of the holiday season in many countries. Whether it’s a traditional nativity scene or a beautifully decorated tree, the Christmas spirit is alive and well throughout the region.

Asian countries with Christmas Tree Traditions

Although Christmas is not widely celebrated in Asia due to cultural and religious differences, some countries in the region have adopted the tradition of decorating Christmas trees. Here are a few Asian countries with Christmas tree traditions:

1. South Korea: In South Korea, Christmas trees are known as “Happy Trees” and are often decorated with lights and ornaments. It has become a popular tradition for couples to go on romantic dates and exchange gifts under these trees during the holiday season.

2. Philippines: The Philippines has a strong Catholic influence, and Christmas is a highly celebrated holiday. Christmas trees, known as “parol,” are decorated with colorful lights and ornaments. Many homes and public places display these trees as a symbol of Christmas cheer.

3. Japan: While Christmas is not a public holiday in Japan, it has gained popularity in recent years. Christmas trees, known as “kurisumasu turi,” are decorated with unique ornaments and lights. It is common to exchange gifts and share meals with loved ones under these trees.

4. Singapore: Singapore, a multicultural country, embraces various traditions during the holiday season, including Christmas. Many shopping malls and public spaces are adorned with beautifully decorated Christmas trees. People also decorate trees in their homes to create a festive atmosphere.

5. Taiwan: In Taiwan, Christmas is not a national holiday, but the festive spirit can still be felt. Many shopping malls and department stores display grand Christmas trees and host events to celebrate the holiday. Some families also decorate Christmas trees in their homes.

While the Christmas tree tradition may not be as widespread in Asia compared to Western countries, these Asian nations have embraced the joy and beauty of decorating Christmas trees.

African countries That Embrace the Christmas Tree

While the Christmas tree may not be as prevalent in African countries as it is in some other parts of the world, there are several countries on the continent that embrace this festive symbol. In these countries, the Christmas tree is often decorated with traditional ornaments and lights, creating a joyful and festive atmosphere.

One such country is South Africa. Despite its warm climate during the holiday season, South Africans still love to put up Christmas trees in their homes. The trees are often decorated with colorful baubles, tinsel, and lights. In some parts of the country, it is also common to see decorated Christmas trees in public spaces and shopping centers.

In Nigeria, Christmas trees have become increasingly popular in recent years. Nigerian families often decorate their trees with handmade ornaments and garlands made from local materials. Some people even incorporate traditional African motifs and colors into their tree decorations.

Ghana is another African country where the Christmas tree has gained popularity. Here, Christmas trees are commonly seen in churches and homes during the holiday season. Ghanaians often decorate their trees with ribbons, bows, and ornaments in traditional African patterns.

Other African countries that embrace the Christmas tree include Kenya, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe. While the prevalence of Christmas trees may vary in these countries, the spirit of the holiday season is celebrated with joy and enthusiasm.

Country Christmas Tree Tradition
South Africa Christmas trees decorated with colorful ornaments and lights
Nigeria Increasing popularity of Christmas trees decorated with handmade ornaments and local materials
Ghana Christmas trees decorated with ribbons, bows, and ornaments in traditional African patterns
Kenya Christmas tree tradition varying in prevalence
Tanzania Christmas tree tradition varying in prevalence
Zimbabwe Christmas tree tradition varying in prevalence

These African countries may have their own unique traditions and ways of celebrating Christmas, but the presence of the Christmas tree is a testament to the global nature of this festive season.

Australia and New Zealand’s Christmas Tree Celebrations

In Australia and New Zealand, Christmas falls during the summer season, which means that their celebrations have a unique touch compared to the rest of the world. The traditional concept of a Christmas tree is typically a European or North American tradition with fir or pine trees being decorated with ornaments and lights. However, due to the hot climate in this part of the world during the Christmas season, a traditional evergreen Christmas tree is not common.

Instead, Australians and New Zealanders often embrace the natural flora and fauna found in their countries to celebrate Christmas. Some native plants in Australia and New Zealand that are commonly used as Christmas trees include the Norfolk Island pine, the native Christmas bush, and the native flax tree.

The Norfolk Island pine is a popular choice for a Christmas tree in Australia, with its symmetrical shape and soft needles resembling a traditional Christmas tree. It can be found growing along the coast and is commonly used for festive decorations.

The native Christmas bush, also known as the Ceratopetalum gummiferum, is another favorite alternative to the traditional Christmas tree. It produces stunning red or green foliage during the summer season, making it a perfect choice for festive decorations.

Additionally, the native flax tree, or harakeke in the Maori language, is another plant commonly used as a Christmas tree in New Zealand. Its long, sword-like leaves and vibrant colors make it an ideal choice for Christmas celebrations.

In both Australia and New Zealand, it is common to decorate these native plants with festive ornaments, tinsel, and lights, creating a unique and colorful Christmas display. The warm climate also allows for outdoor gatherings and barbecues, adding to the festive atmosphere.

Although these countries may have a different approach to Christmas tree celebrations, the spirit of joy and togetherness remains the same. Whether it’s a traditional evergreen Christmas tree or a native plant, the Christmas tree is a universal symbol of love, hope, and celebration.


Christmas in Lapland, Finland with kids in -25º ❄️! Is it worth it? #lapland #finland #travelvlog

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Felicity Long

Felicity Long, a seasoned travel journalist with 15+ years of experience, specializes in exploring Europe, family travel, and skiing, as evident in her book "Great Escapes: New England" (The Countryman Press). She edits the Europe eNewsletter and contributes significantly to TravelAsker's destinations sections. Felicity has received esteemed awards, including the Cacique and Yo Leonardo Awards, in recognition of her outstanding international travel writing accomplishments.

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