Christmas is a time of year when people around the world come together in a spirit of giving, love and hope for humanity, but there are many countries where Christmas is not celebrated.
Christmas is one of the most important times on the calendar for Christians. This religious and cultural festival is celebrated by billions of people every year on the 25th of December.
Christian countries recreate cribs representing the birth of Jesus Christ. They also participate in religious celebrations such as the midnight mass.
Christmas customs vary greatly from country to country.. People from many different nations set up and light Christmas trees, hang Advent wreaths and put on their Christmas stockings for Santa to fill with goodies.
(Check out our fascinating story about the history andother names for Santa Claus around the world!)
But although it has its roots in religious traditions andSymbolFor thousands of years, there have been many countries where Christmas has not been celebrated.
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Countries that don't celebrate Christmas
According toPew Research Center, "In 2010, Christianity was by far the largest religion in the world, with an estimated 2.2 billion adherents, nearly a third (31%) of the total 6.9 billion people on Earth."
However, the rest of the world (about 69%) follows a variety of different religions that may or may not celebrate Christmas.
Below are just a few of the dozens of different places around the world where December 25th is just another day.
If you're a traveler looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the Western world's Christmas season, these countries might just be the perfect place!
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Most people living in Afghanistan are Islamic so they don't celebrate Christmas. Instead, they celebrate holidays likeNowruz, also known as Persian New Year.
This year, Nowruz is celebrated from the 21st to the 22nd of March, as it actually marks the first day of spring in the northern hemisphere. This yearfestival culturalsymbolizes the new beginning and rebirth of nature.
More than 300 million people around the world celebrate Nowruz, including much of Afghanistan.
There, the celebration lasts about two weeks and is made up of parties and cooking.traditional food, and special events like the Red FlowerFestival, where participants will see red tulips in bloom.
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With Christians making up less than 1% of the country's total population, Bhutan does not celebrate Christmas. Much of the country practices Buddhism, which has been around for over 2,000 years.
There are several other holidays celebrated during the season, including the winter solstice, lunar new year andBodhi-Tag(also known as the day of awakening).
Bodhi Day is the day that celebrates Gautama Buddha's enlightenment and attainment of Nirvana. The date is based on the lunar calendar, so it usually falls in December or January.
Interestingly, those who celebrate this holiday decorate a ficus tree in a similar wayChristmas treesare decorated.
This tradition comes from the Buddha meditating under a tree for 49 days. On the morning of the 8th day of the 12th moon of the year, he awoke from his meditation an enlightened man.
Buddhists celebrate Bodhi Day by meditating, doing kind acts for others, studying their texts, and cooking a special meal of tea and cake.
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NatalChinait's just another day at work. Schools, offices and stores remain open. But while December 25th is not celebrated asFestivalor paying for vacations, the Chinese have picked up some western traditions over the years.
China is officially a non-religious country, so Christmas has already been completely banned along with Christianity.
But while the government still imposes restrictions against observing a Western-style holiday, the country is participating in the commercial shopping season.
The commercial version of Christmas in China is only celebrated in big cities (where more people can afford it) and is treated more like Valentine's Day.
It's usually a day spent with friends, not family, and usually celebrated by going to the movies, shopping, or spending a romantic day with your partner.
Afunny christmas eve traditionin China it is to spend the day shopping, and it is the biggest shopping day of the year.
Outside the big cities, Christmas isn't even a commercial thing. With only 1% of Chinese officially Christian, there is not much Christian cultural influence. Therefore, people in rural areas do not celebrate the holiday.
Christmas is celebrated as a public holiday in Macao,Taiwan, and Hong Kong, and these destinations celebrate the well-known Western-style holiday.
Christmas is celebrated in Egypt by 15% of the Christian population (the so-calledcopts).
But like Orthodox Christians in countries like Russia and Serbia, even faithful Christians in Egypt do not celebrate Christmas in December.
Coptic Orthodox Christians in Egypt celebrate Christmas on January 7,as the Church uses the old Julian calendar for religious festivals.
From November 25th to January 6th (also known as the 43 days ofAdvent), Coptic fasting and adhering to a vegan diet for the “Holy Birth Fast”.
On Christmas Eve (January 6th) they celebrate mass around 10pm, and most services end just after midnight (although some continue until 4am).
Travelers to Egypt have a unique choice: visit in December to escape the Christmas madness or visit in early January for a chance to party.Nataltwice!
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Who doesn't celebrate Christmas? mongols. Which is ironic, as in December Mongolia looks like a picture perfect winter wonderland, complete with wild reindeer!
Mongolia is a country where travelers can witness countless things firsthand.cultural traditions and practicesthe ancient past. But Christmas is not one of them.
Since Mongolia is officially a Buddhist country, December 25 seems like any other day. People go to work, children go to school, and Christmas carols don't play in stores.
You might find one or twoChristmas decorationslined up around big cities like Ulaanbaatar, but Christmas is really a strange affair here.
As in Qatar, Christmas celebrations in Mongolia are left to the expat community.
But people inmongolian cultureCelebrate the Lunar New Year. There are fireworks, street parties and a televised speech by the President of Mongolia at midnight.
Lunar New Year is also celebrated with a "New Year tree" that bears an uncanny resemblance to a Christmas tree!
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travelers go toMoroccofor many things – Hiking in North Africaatlas mountains, riding a camel, shopping, sleeping in a famous riad – but partyingNatalis not one of them.
Moroccans are mostly Muslim, so it's no surprise that Christmas isn't a big deal in Morocco.
instead of listening to themMusicof bells and people singing Christmas carols, instead listen to the beautiful sound of theAdhan(the Muslim call to prayer).
instead of seeingchristmas light showsAlong the streets you will see hundreds of colorful lanterns.
So when you visit Morocco, you might not be celebrating Christmas. But you can combine mint tea with spicy lamb and lose yourself in the country's many medinas and alleys.
When visiting Morocco, be sure to head to the bustling Djemaa el-Fnaa (in Marrakech's main square) to pick up some trinkets to take home as a Christmas present!
The official religion of Pakistan is Islam, therefore December 25th is a holiday reserved for remembrance.Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of the country.
He was born on December 25th, and most call that dayBarra DinEWhat works, which means "the great day".
Holiday preparations usually begin in the first week of December, when families buy new furniture or paint their homes. Many wedding ceremonies and engagement parties are planned for December.
On the night of December 24th, families anxiously watch the clock, waiting for midnight to greet each other. Many of the elders bestow blessings of peace, life, and love upon their children.
Fireworks are set off in the streets and many people attend nightly services.
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You won't be able to tell that it's Christmas in Qatar, a non-Christian country. Any organized celebrations are usually organized by the growing expat community.
The range of festive decorations available in stores has increased over the years (Doha is a modern city with extravagant malls, after all). But these are still relatively scarce prey.
In a country known for its heritage souks, Islamic art andbiggest deserts in the world, perhaps it is not so surprising that there is a noticeable shortage of Christmas trees here.
Real Christmas trees in Qatar are very expensive and very rare. But for travelers who crave the smell of a real Christmas tree, check out the Ritz-Carlton or a similar internationally renowned 5-star hotel.
These Hotels Serve Christmas Eve Buffets Yearly, Including Holiday Celebrationsgingerbreadand other traditional treats.
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As most of the country is Buddhist,thailanddoes not recognize Christmas as a national holiday.
But the country is very tolerant of other religions, so some Thais decorate their homes and have festive parties.
Thai tourism really peaks during the holidays, so many resorts and hotels offer holiday meals.christmas events.Thais love a good party, so you might see them wearing Christmas hats or decorating their stores.
If you're looking for a fun New Year's celebration, Thailand celebrates the holiday three times!
There is the regular New Year that we recognize, Chinese New Year in late January or early February, and Songkran (the traditional Thai New Year) in April.
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Those who want to have many opportunities to celebrate Christmas in Tunisia North Africa.
Flower vendors haggle over the price of a tree, vendors sell Christmas decorations and accessories, and you'll never have trouble finding a unique gift in the huge variety of souks there.
Many local churches offer services on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. But for locals, Christmas means nothing more than an economic opportunity for their businesses.
Visit Tunisia for incredibly warm weather and beautiful African beaches. But don't go waiting to get into the Christmas spirit: the festivities usually pass without fanfare!
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Which countries do not celebrate Christmas?
There are 34 countries that don't celebrate Christmas in a western way.
Countries that do not celebrate Christmas include:
- Brunei Darussalam
- China (except Hong Kong and Macau)
- as Comores
- the Maldives
- North Korea
- Saharawi Republic
- saudi arab
- Taiwan (Republic of China)
- the united arab emirates
–by Megan Jerrard with additional reporting by Samantha Dickens
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Megan Gerardis an Australian journalist and the
Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Mapping Megan, an award-winning travel blog that brings you the latest adventure travel from around the world. Megan and her husband Mike believe that travel has the potential to inspire change in people and, in turn, create change in the world. They embraced travel as a lifestyle in 2007 and are dedicated to documenting their journeys and observations through fun, honest articles and brilliant photography. You can continue to follow your journeyFacebook,Twitter,Google+,YouTube,pinterestEInstagram.