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11 Christmas Traditions From Around The World People Celebrate In The UK

People from all over the world bring their Christmas traditions to the UK. There is no one way to celebrate!

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1. Did you know that flamingos are a Christmas animal?

BBC / Via joyreactor.com

The flamingos themselves might not know what's going on, but if you have ties to Miami, Florida, then you'll no doubt be bringing a little flavour of the sunshine state to your British Christmas tree.

As well as the usual lights, Miamians like to include palm trees and pink flamingo statues in their displays.

2. Greeks prepare "Christopsomo," or Christmas bread.

Getty Images / Dimitris66

Sweet carbs! This is actually a sacred dish that translates as "Christ's bread", so great care is taken in preparing it each year. (And it's a great honour to be offered some too!)

It's typically made on Christmas Eve and then only eaten on Christmas Day, guaranteeing the well-being of the home in the year to come.

3. It's pretty difficult to find an authentic fruit tree here in the UK, so some Indian households place a banana on top as a compromise.

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As evergreen trees don't grow in much of subtropical India, mango or banana trees are an easy and accessible alternative for the traditional tree.

Of course, the opposite is true in Britain, so bananas in a regular tree will have to do!

4. Christmas occurs during the summer in Australia, so Australians in the UK might throw a winter barbecue.

Getty Images / Dynamic Graphics

Australia's in the southern hemisphere, so their summer begins in December and lasts until February. While the rest of us freeze our baubles off, Australia is enjoying the sun.

Alongside the usual British Christmas fare, Australians often cook fish and hold barbecues to celebrate the holiday. So if you see anybody roasting prawns in the snow, it's probably an Aussie!

5. Ever found an apple under your tree?

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This is a Chinese Christmas tradition, which seems to come from the Chinese word for Christmas Eve, "pinganye", which coincidentally sounds similar to the word for apple, "pingguo".

Brits are used to oranges and tangerines in their stocking, but it's interesting to imagine how some children would react if they received a wrapped piece of fruit!

6. If you saw some shoes in London windows earlier this month, and thought, "huh, that's a new one..."

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That's actually a Croatian Christmas tradition! There's a small pocket of Croatians in London, and in accordance with their traditions, kids leave footwear out for St Nicholas Day (6 Dec) in the hope of – what else? – chocolate and presents.

However, if the children have been naughty, then the Krampus will leave them golden twigs as a reminder to buck up and be good.

7. Polish people enjoy Barszcz along with their cheesy Christmas TV.

Ap3589983 / Getty Images

Barszcz is almost obligatory on Christmas Day in Poland, so we imagine this is a staple alongside the Strictly Christmas Special. (It's beetroot soup!)

8. See the massive light show down the road?

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Easily one of the foreign Christmas traditions most of us are familiar with: the amazing light displays that adorn houses around British neighbourhoods.

They stand out here, but in parts of the US, Canada, and Australia, it's actually an annual pastime to spend one evening travelling around the local area to see all the different displays.

9. While you might be on your way home from a night on the town, your French neighbours may be getting a headstart on Christmas dinner.

Shelma1 / Getty Images

Known as "Réveillon", or the "wake-up" meal, traditionally families eat this when they return from Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve.

The meal is often finished off with a chocolate sponge cake log called a bûche de Noël (or Yule log). So if your Parisien friend doesn't feel like having seconds on Christmas Day, you now know why!

10. Christmas pudding is a contentious dish as it is, but thanks to our Italian friends, we have a solution.

edenexposed / margouillatphotos / Getty Images

That's panettone, a dry fruit cake to counterbalance the ever-controversial Christmas pud. (Sounds like a good excuse for a bake-off!)

The name comes from "pane di Tonio" and is named after a Milanese baker who cooked up the loaf as a dowry for his daughter. Another story suggests that Tonio worked for a court chef who invented a bake which used up all his available ingredients, when he was left without a Christmas dessert.

11. And finally, the Germans were the first to adopt the Christmas tree tradition as we know it today, so we have them to thank for our festive centrepiece.

FamVeld / Getty Images

A tradition we're all very familiar with! But did you know our own Queen Victoria and her German husband, Prince Albert, are credited with popularising the custom in the UK all the way back in 1846.

Better things happen when different traditions are shared at Christmas in new places with new people.

As part of Western Union’s chain of good deeds all around the world, this December, the Chain of Betters is supporting people celebrating Christmas somewhere new.

Every day from 1 to 24 December, Western Union is giving away $100 eVouchers* to US and UK residents, to help share your favourite traditions with the people around you.

Simply comment on this Facebook post and tell us what holiday tradition you or someone you know is celebrating away from home. Make sure to include the hashtags #WUXMAS and #SWEEPSENTRY in your comment.

How will you make someone’s Christmas special this year?

*Prize will be $100 (or £ equivalent) Amazon eVouchers. Open to residents of US and UK. No Purchase Necessary. Official Rules at bit.ly/xmas-terms. Void Where Prohibited. bit.ly/WUxmas for more info.

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