Top 5 Christmas Gifting Traditions Around the Globe

The count down to Christmas is on! With only 2 weeks to go – we know that here at What’s That Box, we are certainly getting into the Christmas spirit. With the clock ticking for the big guy in the red suit to come down the chimney, it got us thinking… everyone celebrates Christmas differently. Each family has their own Christmas traditions, whether it be… 

matching Christmas PJs 👕… 

getting a little too merry as your put up the Christmas tree, or 🎄… 

watching Die Hard, in your matching Christmas PJs, after getting a little too merry putting your tree up!? 🎬

(Controversial opinion: Die Hard is quite possibly the best Christmas movie ever created… prove me wrong! 😉)

Whatever your weird, wonderful and whacky traditions, we know that one thing is for sure – Christmas is about spreading cheer and joy. What better way to do this than the gift of giving!? 

With Covid putting a stop to international travel from Australia right now, we know that many people will be fighting ‘itchy feet’. So to combat the holiday blues, we thought we would bring the travel to you. We spoke with some of our friends around the globe, to share with you our Top 5 Christmas Gifting Traditions from around the world. Let’s have some fun – read on to find out more about what a wonderful world we live in! 

  1. Secret Santa

Now, most of you know Secret Santa as the classic office party game, where you draw names to buy a gift for (desperately hoping that you don’t pick someone from HR – eek!). But did you know that Secret Santa has so many other quirky names around the world. 

Here are some of our favourites from across the map:

  • Kris Kringle – Australian alternate 

(‘The Great Debate’ – Tell us, do you know it as Secret Santa or Kris Kringle?)

  • Amigo Secreto (Secret Friend) – Brazil
  • Amigo Invisible (Invisible Friend) – Uruguay
  • Nisseven (Elf Friend) – Denmark

Then there are the naughtier adult versions – Bad Santa, Stealing Santa and Dirty Santa! These generally involve alcohol and stealing presents. Over 18s, play with caution!

For international families … did you know that you can also draw names online. There’s an amazing Secret Santa gift swap name generator called ‘Draw Names’, which does your gift exchange for you all online. You can even add a wish list! Love it.

  1. White Elephant or Yankee Swap

This is a game not too different from the variations of Secret Santa, which is played mostly in America. However instead of buying a gift for a specific person, you buy a gift that goes (wrapped) into the middle of a circle. Participants then take turns either selecting a gift from the middle, or stealing someone else’s gift. 

Trust me, it can get feisty! Everyone wants the largest gift with the fanciest wrapping paper. But like my granny used to tell me… never judge a book by it’s cover, and good things come in small packages. Thanks granny.

  1. Sinterklaas

The Dutch have a particularly unusual tradition where on 5 December each year, they place a pair of wooden clogs on their porch, and wait for ‘Sinterklass’ (Santa Claus) to come and put candy in the shoes. 

Imagine that, it’s like trick or treating, but the candy comes to you! 

  1. Spanish ‘Dia de Los Reyes’ (Kings’ Day)

In Spain, Kings’ Day is celebrated on the 5 December each year, which is a slight variation of the Dutch tradition. The major difference is that in Spain, the 3 Wide Kings or ‘Los Reyes Magos’ take on Santa’s duties for the night. Children leave a pair of clean shoes outside their doors to be filled with small gifts. 

Another unique and wonderful twist to this, is that children are also encouraged to leave snacks for their hungry camels. I wonder if the camels like milk and cookies too!?

  1. The Gift of Knowledge

The Italian’s are a bit more sophisticated in that on Christmas eve they swap ‘Gifts of Knowledge’. This is generally a book, map, art, music or something similar. 

If you’re not a fan of reading, the bright side is they then study their new gift whilst eating candied fruits and caramel. Yum – I don’t know about you, but I could live with that!

From everyone here at What’s That Box, we wanted to wish you a very merry Christmas (however you are celebrating) We hope to see you again in the new year. 

In the meantime, please comment below and tell us where you’re from and what your Christmas traditions are! We can’t wait to hear them! 👇🎄 

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