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Celebrating Christmas around the World

Christmas is now almost a week away and your care home is probably in full seasonal swing, planning fun events and helping residents get into the festive mood. Christmas means different things to different people. Not least because the yuletide festival is celebrated in diverse ways all over the world. Help everyone feel involved and appreciated this year by preparing a multi-cultural celebration that incorporates fun, food and traditions from several countries and communities.

Primary planning

First of all, it’s very important to find out what people are expecting from Christmas in your care home – will they have family members visiting? Will they leave the home to spend the day with relatives? Can you help anyone set up Skype or video calls to friends and family living in other parts of the UK or abroad? Are there any residents who don’t want to join in with any celebrations for whatever reason? How will you ensure that they are looked after and supported during the festive season?

Once you have worked all of this out, you will know how many people will be around and happy to join in your celebrations. This will make it easier to plan staff rotas, order catering supplies, book entertainers and plan events using your care management software. Here are some ideas for including Christmassy elements from various countries, cultures and traditions into your care home’s celebrations this year.

Savoury food

While many British households sit down to a roast turkey lunch with all the trimmings on 25 December, this is not the case all over the world. For example, in Poland, families enjoy a sumptuous 12-dish feast on Christmas Eve called barszcz. This is served to represent Christ’s twelve apostles and includes beetroot soup, carp, filled dumplings, fruit and poppy-seed desserts.

In Iceland, families more commonly come together for a roast lamb lunch, while many Australians take advantage of the summer sun to enjoy a barbecue outside with savoury treats such as prawns, burgers and steaks. Sweden has a traditional julbord (buffet) on Christmas Eve made up of cold fish, cold meats, pickles and cheeses. Meanwhile, in Barbados, the focal point of the Christmas feat is an enormous pineapple and sorrel glazed baked ham.


Sweet treats at Christmas don’t come much sweeter than malva pudding from South Africa – a sponge cake drizzled generously with apricot jam, brandy and sweetened butter-cream sauce. Denmark is also home to a delicious alternative Christmas dessert called ris à la mande – a rice pudding made with rice, milk, almonds, vanilla and cream. Whoever finds the whole almond hidden inside the dish wins an extra Christmas present! Moving on to Christmas in Germany, many people eat a slice or three of stollen, which is a fruit cake crammed with dried fruit and marzipan. Cake fans in Jamaica also know that no celebratory meal is complete without a festive fruit cake, soaked in rum and red wine for weeks ahead of Christmas Day.

Christmas traditions

Christmas comes with its own traditions in different countries too, many of which can be easily incorporated into your own care home’s festive fun. In the Philippines, a huge lantern festival takes place to represent the Star of Bethlehem. Giant parasols are adorned with lights and set to spin in the dark evening to illuminate the sky. Your residents could make their own parasols and hang LED lights on them to add to the Christmas decorations around the home.

On the island of Martinique in the French Caribbean, people gather to sing carols and visit neighbours throughout Advent, right up to New Year’s Day. Who doesn’t love a good sing-song, especially if you can provide some accompaniment such as a keyboard, guitar or even a recorded backing track. Why not invite local school children or a choir to come and sing carols with your residents in return for a pile of warm mince pies. Finally, in Ireland, many households place a tall, red candles in their front window as a symbol of warmth and welcome over Christmas. Imagine how lovely your care home would look with tall, red candles in every window – although you may wish to find battery operated versions for reasons of health and safety!

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