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The Culture of Christmas: Gift Giving and Traditions Around the World
As Christmas is approaching, we are going to delve into the spectrum of holiday-related traditions and superstitions worldwide, as well as many beloved commercials throughout the years which nurture the joy of Christmas.
21 December, 2022
Coca-Cola, 2020.

For generations now, holidays and special occasions have been a crucial part of tying bonds with our loved ones, and those within our social circle. Human beings are social beings, which is why we love sharing special days with others. Some people prefer to increase generosity and show their love through gestures of gift-giving, and some people choose to embrace the traditions and the holiday spirit.

As Christmas is approaching, we are going to delve into the spectrum of holiday-related traditions and superstitions worldwide, as well as many beloved commercials throughout the years which nurture the joy of Christmas.


With the emergence of consumerism culture and perpetuation of beauty standards, one of the most popular gifts for women during the holidays would be the choice of a good fragrance. Perfumes originate from France, which to this day is still one of the leading countries for producing famous scents. Interestingly enough, in France, there is an old belief that it is indecent to give a married woman perfume, as only her husband can do so. Speaking of great perfume campaigns that also come from France, the 2011 ‘J’adior Fragrance’ commercial starring Charlize Theron was far ahead of its time. Using CGI and deep fakes, Dior created a beautiful story within the advertisement, introducing pop culture icons from the previous century.

Additionally, in most European countries, Christmas is a very family-oriented time of the year. So, if you spend time with a big family, make sure you don’t forget the kids! Since it’s very common to give children arts and crafts supplies as presents, never give adults stationery—especially yearly planners or diaries. To elaborate, in Germany, there is a cultural belief that it may come off as a hint of non-punctuality… Yet what is always a good present idea is something you can all share together during the festive dinner—sweets. The 2016 KitKat campaign made a really sweet and funny campaign “Even Santa Needs a Break.”

Considering gifts, sometimes we tend to go over our budget, and perhaps a watch or a house clock would be a great statement. However, in Chinese and other eastern cultures, such gifts carry quite a negative message. See, on a linguistic and cultural level, anything that shows time may be associated with the end of it: and even death. Christmas is about enjoying your time altogether, so even if you are in different countries, give something that can connect you despite that. The 2021 Apple commercial has released a very heartfelt commercial, showing how their Christmas gifts can make it work even in the distance. 

Christmas Adverts

Throughout the years, different brands and companies compete for customers’ attention, and whoever creates a better campaign gets associated with the holiday season. For a decade now, Coca-Cola has been keeping up with the Christmas market, by almost becoming a part of everyone’s Christmas mood. With their famous timeless slogan “holidays are coming” you can almost hear their catchy festive tune as you read it. Here is one of their greatest commercials from 2020, which managed to carry a great story and a Christmas spirit.

Furthermore, as a part of Christmas traditions, we tend to associate this time with a magical atmosphere, such as with fairytales and fantasy. One of the most universal and cultural characters is definitely Santa! He is the one bringing gifts, after all. If any of you ever wondered if it may be beyond the tale, and Santa truly exists, have you also ever believed in M&M’s characters being real? You’d be shocked to learn, just as Santa was in the 2009 M&M’s campaign, “they’re real?” 

So, as much as Christmas time is about gifts, traditions and family, it is also about reflecting on the year that has passed, and in turn, setting up the goals for the next. For many, the last chapter of the year would be exams, assignments, or even Christmas performances. We like to finish up the year with great accomplishments, for which we can reward ourselves with a treat, or a small gift. The 2020 Amazon campaign “The Show Must Go On!” creates a pretty relatable advertisement, showing a story that pretty much everyone went through. 

Christmas is a universally shared holiday, albeit experienced in many different ways. For many, it’s the time to reunite with friends and family, and some people love the holidays because it’s the time to take a break from their busy lifestyles. In any case, it’s a great opportunity to slow down and appreciate all the important and happy things. Even though Christmas traditions are diverse all over the world and rooted in universal cultures, the merry season stays a joyful one for most: a time for family, and connections. What gifts will you be giving this Christmas? Whatever you are doing this festive season, make it a good one.

Merry Christmas!

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