Does Navidad mean the same as Noël? Is Christmas synonymous to счастливого Рождества? For different nations, the meaning of 'Christmas' and the traditions that are associated with it can vary up to a point. Second year linguists, this might be something you want to investigate next year on your year abroad!
Let's review some of the coolest Christmas traditions across the globe!
In Spain, the festivity varies greatly according to the region. In the Basque country, on Christmas Eve, a man called 'Olezentero' delivers the Children's presents. He isn't your conventional father Christmas-apparently he wears a beret and looks like a bit of a farmer. It's something different I suppose.
In Catalonia, a large tradition is a log colloquially sometimes known as the 'Caga Tio' (the pooping log!). On the 8th December, families start preparing him, they give the log some food and a blanket to keep it warm. The on Christmas Eve or Christmas day, the log 'poops' out small gifts.
Let's go to a different continent. 'Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year' in Malagasy (the national language of Madagascar) is 'Mirary Krismasy y sambatra sy Taona vaovao tonga lafatra ho anao.' (I'm sure people in Madagascar take a lot longer to write their Christmas cards than we do). Take a look online at some of the Christmas carols! A main Christmas tradition are lychees, which are thrown around the streets on a hot December morning and people go to the beach.
In Iceland, a very pagan tradition is embraced over the Christmas period. On New Year's Eve, mythical traditions are 'expected' to happen, such as elves moving house, the dead rising from their graves, cows are meant to talk, seals take on a human body...the list is exhaustive! Bonfire night in Iceland takes place on New Year's and has been doing so since the 18th century.
So Merry Christmas to you (whatever it means for you!)