For many western countries Christmas is a special time of year. Christmas is traditionally known as a Christian holiday, it is the time of year when the birth of Jesus Christ is remembered, but secular celebrations are also common. There are many different ways of celebrating Christmas, but it is common for Christmas trees to be erected, gifts to be given, and lavish feasts to be prepared and shared with family and friends. The tradition of Santa Claus, or a similar legend, is also popular at this time. However, these celebrations do not extend to every part of the world. Let’s find out which countries don’t celebrate Christmas.
Which countries do not celebrate Christmas?
Whilst most of us are familiar with Christmas and its many traditions, there are some countries around the world where Christmas is not celebrated on a national scale. Small Christian communities and families within the country may celebrate the birth of Jesus, but as a whole the holiday of Christmas is not observed. Many countries that do celebrate Christmas were originally colonized by other countries that did traditionally celebrate Christmas. The following is a list of countries that do not celebrate Christmas nationally:
Pakistan – December 25 is a national holiday, but it is not in celebration of Christmas. December 25 is celebrated as the birthday of Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan. However, Christmas celebrations have gained popularity among the middle class urban citizens, who decorate and exchange gifts.
The People’s Republic of China – There is no holiday on the mainland of China, although throughout the month of December many secular Chinese celebrate in similar style with the giving of gifts and exchanging cards. Both Hong Kong and Macau have a public holiday to celebrate Christmas. This is a result of being controlled by western powers for many years. Many citizens of Hong Kong erect Christmas trees and decorate their houses. Many of the buildings in Hong Kong are also decorated with lights.
Taiwan – Christmas day is not celebrated in Taiwan. However, December 25 was once a Taiwanese public holiday as it was the day that they signed the Constitution of the Republic of China. However, it lost the status of a public holiday in 2011.
Japan – Christmas is not a national holiday in Japan, but the secular celebration of Christmas is very popular. This is mostly encouraged by commerce and a particularly successful commercial by KFC has made eating chicken during Christmas a national custom. Amazingly, KFC stores have to take reservations months in advance. Many cities are decorated with lights and it is common to see Christmas trees.
Israel – Whilst the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah falls at around the same time as Christmas, the holiday of Christmas is not celebrated in Israel. There is also a large population of Muslim Arabs in Israel who do not celebrate Christmas. The country does support Christmas related tourism by celebrating Christmas is historically significant places such as Bethlehem, Nazareth and Jerusalem.
The following is a list of countries that do not observe a public holiday for Christmas, but some may take part in the festive traditions of the season:
- Saudi Arabia
- North Korea