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Christmas around the world: Countries that don’t celebrate Christmas

Unless you move abroad, you probably have no idea of the countries that do not celebrate Christmas. While Christmas in many countries is a given, and preparation for the magical day starts well before Halloween, in some case the national holiday celebrating the birthday of Jesus isn’t celebrated everywhere in the world. Maybe you have recently relocated to a new country and simply want to find out if the excessive celebration of Christmas is appropriate or maybe you want to escape the manic Christmas rush in your home country to help you to determine what kind of Christmas you should have, we’ve put together a list of countries where you’re highly unlikely to see a giant inflatable snowman at this time of year.


Unfortunately, you’ll need to find your own way to spread Christmas cheer in Qatar as you won’t even be able to tell it’s Christmas, let alone December! So much so, that the majority of celebrations are usually arranged by the growing expat community in the country, and while the prominence of festive decorations in shops has significantly increased over the past few years, there is still a lack of enthusiasm when it comes to Christmas in the malls. Unsurprisingly, there is also a noticeable shortage of Christmas trees to decorate with row upon row of twinkling lights, iridescent tinsel and an assortment of baubles. Generally, this is due to the prominent Muslim community in Qatar and surrounding states in the UAE will be similar, despite the growing expat communities.


While you can easily experience the traditions of the ancient past in Mongolia, you will struggle to uncover those of Christmas. Officially a Buddhist country, Christmas Day in Mongolia feels like any other day. People continue to go to work, children are hurried to school and no Christmas carols are played aloud in the shops. While you may find the odd decoration strung up around the main cities in Mongolia, such as Ulaanbaatar, Christmas here is generally only celebrated by expats and holidaymakers in the country.


Just like in Mongolia (and Qatar) December 25th in China is just another working day, and business continues as usual. Even though Christmas is not celebrated as a festival, nor a public holiday, the Chinese have taken ownership of a couple of intimate Western traditions, such as Christmas dinner and the exchange of gifts or money. Although China is officially a non-religious state, the community does partake in the commercial period of buying.


While Tunisia doesn’t officially celebrate Christmas, there are several opportunities to celebrate this time of year, on the beach if you wish, for those who want to celebrate in style. Flower sellers will negotiate the cost of a tree and vendors will sell the most exquisite Christmas decorations, accessories and twinkling lights meaning you’ll never have trouble finding a quirky gift in the market thriving with locals, tourists and expats.


While people travel to Morocco to see the highest sand dunes of the Sahara Desert, the infamous landmark of Casablanca and the masterpiece that the Majorlle Garden is, Christmas is certainly not one of them. Unless you want to tuck into a bowl of couscous, you’re unlikely to find a Christmas dinner or lunch here. Despite the lack of pigs-in-blankets, Moroccans will find an excuse for any celebration so you can still enjoy the Christmas spirit in this beautiful country.

Despite some countries not celebrating Christmas, the festive season as an expat doesn’t have to be ‘just another day’, and it is still possible to find your holiday spirit. While you may have to go to work, you can still decorate your home with red and gold tinsel, curtains of warm coloured fairy-lights, garlands, ribbons and candles until your heart’s content, and if you’re not the kind of person to whip out Christmas-crackers at the dinner table, there’s nothing to fret about!

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