The Holly and the Palm Trees: Christmas Design Around The World

‘Tis the season to do a little decorating and while you might think that you can’t step out of the red, gold, and green lines this year, you might be surprised at how differently other cultures approach their holiday decorations. Throwing the seasonal uniform out the window, these countries have taken festive matters into their own hands and adapted Christmas decorations to meet their own traditions. More than just festive amalgams, their trinkets and baubles speak to their own understanding of the festive season and the stories that they tell at this time of year. And the results? Just take a look.

BRAZIL

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - December 18, 2014: Huge metal structure of a christmas tree in Rodrigo de Freitas lagoon. The tree is illuminated each night.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – December 18, 2014: Huge metal structure of a christmas tree in Rodrigo de Freitas lagoon. The tree is illuminated each night.

Where the sun shines in December and the crowds spill out onto the beach, Brazil is a country very much steeped in the tropical side of life. Bedecked by palm trees and tropical plants, major streets and housing districts don’t exactly lend themselves to the traditional vision of Christmas time; look a little closer, though, and you might be in for a surprise. Constructing mammoth fake Christmas trees out of textiles and hard-wearing materials, Brazil nods to the wider festive season, while still staying true to its own roots. While twinkling lights are not a major player, locals make use of colorful flags from around the world, uniting the globe under the same seasonal spirit.

 

CHINA

A Chinese building decorated with lanterns over the holiday season.

A Chinese building decorated with lanterns over the holiday season.

Rather than emulating Western versions of the Christmas season, China incorporates its own traditions into its holiday decorations, using local craftsmen to decorate homes and public places. Paper thin flowers and lanterns cover lush Christmas trees around the country, nodding to the country’s origami tradition. In keeping with the natural tones of the seasonal shrubbery, the decorations are very much understated, maintaining a subtle, muted tone during the holiday season.

 

AUSTRALIA

Sydney, Australia – December 13, 2013: A house colourfully decorated for Christmas and lit at dusk on Emerald St, Emu Plains.

You would be hard-pressed to find anyone frolicking in the snow on Christmas morning in Australia. Down under, they celebrate the holiday season during some of the hottest months of the year, and it’s no stretch for some families to fire up the barbecue on the big day. During the Christmas season, locals choose to make the most of their culture, stringing their homes with lines of seashells and Eucalyptus leaves. The most festive homes deck out their trees in tropically designed decorations, alongside traditional fare, balancing the old with the new.

 

RUSSIA

Moscow, Russia - December 23, 2011: Christmas tree on memorial Poklonnaya hill.

Moscow, Russia – December 23, 2011: Christmas tree on memorial Poklonnaya hill.

Facing one of the harshest winters in the world, the population of Russia is certainly familiar with white Christmases. While you will find many households nodding to the festive figure of Santa Claus in a series of red and gold decorations, some locals also choose to reference Father Frost, Russia’s very own Christmas figure. Presented in local fairy tale collections, the figure is renowned for his icy costume, which is covered in snowflakes and blizzards. Designs featuring cobalt blue and silver tones are a common site in Russia, referencing the ice-cold fairytale at the heart of their culture and the cold winters they have to endure.

 

UKRAINE

Christmas decorations in Kiev, Ukraine. (2015)

Christmas decorations in Kiev, Ukraine. (2015)

Christmas traditions vary hugely around the world and, depending on local custom and folklore, the way in which countries deck out their living spaces during the holiday season can differ dramatically. Thanks to a local tale, Ukrainians believe that spiders and their webs bring good luck during the holiday season. Legend has it that a desperately poor family were so overcome with grief at not being able to decorate their sapling tree that a family of spiders decided to help them out. On Christmas morning, the children awoke to find their tree covered in sparkling webs which turned to gold and silver when they were touched by the sun. In keeping with tradition, many Ukrainian families deck out their trees with fake spiders and webs, believing that they too will be brought good luck as a result.