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Trees covered in tinsel and baubles. Stockings hanging from the fireplace. Elaborate outdoor light displays popping up all over the neighborhood.

Think of decorating your home for Christmas and at least one of these traditions will likely spring to mind. Yet all over the world, countries celebrating Christmas have their own set of customs for decorating their homes for the holidays.

In some areas of Mexico, nativity-themed Christmas decorations are carved from radishes. In chilly Antarctica, fish heads hang in doorways to replace mistletoe. And in Ghana, palm trees decorated with candles replace traditional Christmas trees to suit the tropical climate. As the festive season approaches, we take you on a tour of Christmas decorations to be found in houses the world over.


In Africa, Christmas dinners after the church ceremony are prepared on tables out the front of homes, inviting people’s family and close friends to share a meal together. For this reason, outdoor decorations are more important than the interior. You often see fake snow decorating stores in Nairobi, oil palms loaded with bells in Liberia, or palm trees laden with candles in Ghana.

In Zimbabwe, Christmas is far from being a casual celebration. It is tradition for people to set up their biggest speakers in front of their house and play their favorite music as loud as they can.

Latin America

Christmas is the most important holiday of the year for most countries in Latin America. Cities are loaded with spectacular, colorful decorations, including lots of fairy lights. In Colombia, December 7 people spent the night decorating all public spaces with paper lanterns and candles. It is called Dia De Las Velitas – Day of the Little Candles. Each household places approximately 100 candles outside their home in honor of the Virgin Mary.

On December 23, just before Christmas, residents of Oaxaca City in Mexico celebrate Noche de rábanos, or the Festival of the Radishes. Locals carve the vegetables into human figures, including those from nativity scenes. On Christmas Day, children can be found in Mexican living rooms attempting to and break apart decorated clay piñata using a stick – while blindfolded. Inside are small presents and sweets.


Because fir trees are not common in India, mango trees are often decorated instead. In addition, the whole house is decorated with mango leaves in order to brighten up homes. Large star-shaped paper lanterns can also be found.

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