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Christmas decorations around the world

Brightly coloured baubles, sparkling tinsel and an angel on top – there’s definitely a national style when it comes to Christmas tree decorations in the UK. Where does our decorative style come from, and is it different to other countries?

Victorian influences

Many of our Christmas traditions stem, rather romantically, from Queen Victoria’s adoration of her German husband, Prince Albert. The Christmas tree, focus on red and green and Christmas lights were all popularised when the young queen wanted to make her beloved husband feel at home, and so adopted German festive traditions.

Elsewhere in Europe

As Christianity was the dominant religion in Europe for so long, most Christmas traditions are an amalgamation of folklore ideas and religious icons. Red apples feature strongly in French Christmas decorations and woven hearts are popular in Denmark, whilst in Greece, ornaments are often in the form of painted ships. Ukrainian trees are festooned with decorative cobwebs and in Iceland, the tree is topped with a crown.

Further afield

Australian Christmases are in the height of summer, so there’s more of a beach theme down under, with shells used to decorate the tree. In the US, the 1950s tradition of using strings of popcorn rather than tinsel is still popular today, and in India, banana and mango leaves are used to decorate the house. In Kenya, you’ll see a cypress tree rather than a pine tree, and in Costa Rica, red coffee berries adorn the tree.

Common to all cultures celebrating Christmas, however, are the ideas of celebrating with family, a table heaped with delicious food and a sense of goodwill to others.

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