Surely, the lavish spending that Americans experience during the holidays is UNMATCHED by any other peoples, RIGHT? Total Xmas spending (as recorded by PwC) refers to anything that a person might buy for the occasion. PwC includes such things as travel expenses, gifts, food, clothing, trimmings and a tree to put them on. According to PwC (Global Finance Services), rather surprisingly there are 2 nations that spend more per person than the US for this holiday. They are Ireland and the UK (Please, see T-1 above). From ’03 to ‘13 Xmas has gained the most spending ground in Russia (of all places) with an increase of 173½ %!! WOW! B-4 we get too crazy about this newest capital of Xmas spending, we must realize that it’s a $93 per person spend on Xmas in Russia & that it is ONLY 56% of what its next biggest spender Brazil spends on Xmas per person. (Brazilians each spend $166 for Xmas). Furthermore, the Russians ONLY spend 12% of what Americans spend & that is ONLY 8% of what UK gifting per spender spends. On the other side of that is bah-humbug Greece whose Xmas spirit from 2003 to ’13 has lessened by 62%±. WOW! While we don’t want to “pile on” Greece b/c of its many economic problems, the data are the data. After the Grecian Formula for economic failure is acknowledged yet again, 2 nations come that are known for their strong Christianity, Spain and Italy. Spains holiday spending b/t ’03 & ’13 decreased by 44% as Italy’s holiday spending decreased by almost 39%. In brute $$ per spender Spain is #10 of 12 and Italy is #7. (Spain’s Xmas spending is 24% per person of what Americans will spend & Italy’s spend is about 60% per person of what an American spender will spend per person. The reader of this Scope will notice that of the 12 nations used by PwC in this Xmas spending study, ½ of them were spending less in 2013 than in 2003. This seeming strange outcome is easily explained by the Great Recession and its strong lingering impact on holiday gifting vs less generous holiday gifting.)


T-2 views Xmas spending much, much differently than T-1. (T-1 views Xmas spending based on how much spending occurs per each individual population member, such as $1,184 per Irishman and $34 per Russian.) T-2 details how much TOTAL Xmas spending occurs in each nation and what % of each nations’ GDP that is. Poster child IRE spends a total of $5 B (10th) while its % of GDP is #2 at 2.16%. The UK is #1 with a % of 2.54%.


T-2 reveals that based on total econ spending, the US’ total Xmas spending is slightly more than 3.6 times its nearest competitor, the UK. As a matter of fact, the US spends more than 10.6 times at Xmastime than do the Bttm 5 countries. (RUS, SPN, IRE, PORT & GREECE) combined. As for the GDP %, the leaders are UK (2.54%), IRE at #2 (2.16%) followed by the US (1.46%). The 3 smallest % of GDPers belong to Russia (0.62%), Spain (0.64%) & Greece (0.82%). In short the UK spends the greatest % of its GDP on Xmas (2.54%) and Russia spends the smallest % of its GDP (0.62%) at Xmastime.


An interesting fact from is that in the US during 2013 there were 33.02 M real Xmas trees sold and 14.7 M fakes sold. The average amount spent was $35.30 on real & $81.30 on fake. The total revenue from these trees is approximately $1.17B from real trees vs $1.20B from fake trees. (MORAL: Fake always costs more than real.)




  • AUSTRALIA: Santa gives the reindeers a rest and uses kangaroos, or “six white boomers” as the popular carol goes. Carolers sing by candlelight and in addition to traditional Xmas trees, natives decorate their “Xmas Bush” (an indigenous plant w/o any relationship to GEO I or GEO II).


  • AUSTRIA: Many families will have an Advent wreath decorated with ribbons and 4 candles, one for each Sunday in Advent. Most towns have a Christkindlmarkt where Xmas food and decorations are sold. Large cities like Vienna have massive markets that attract visitors from around the world. The Xmas meal is had on Xmas EVE, and has traditionally been Gebackener Karpfen, or fried carp. Xmas EVE is considered a “fasting” day in which no meat can be eaten, nevertheless roasted turkey and goose have become popular. The meal is finished with a dessert of Sachertorte’ and Weihnachtsbaeckerei’, chocolate apricot cake and Xmas


  • DENMARK: Presents are brought by Julemanden who looks similar to Santa. He lives in Greenland, travels by reindeer, loves rice pudding and is helped by the nisser, which are similar to elves.


  • ESTONIA: Each year on Xmas EVE, the president declares the “Xmas peace”, a 350 year old tradition dating back to Queen Kristina of Sweden. The traditional Xmas meal is pork, sauerkraut and blood sausage. It is eaten on Xmas EVE.
  • FINLAND: Glögi is the traditional Xmas It is made from mulled spiced wine, almond sprinkles and a dash of vodka. The dead are remembered with candle lighting at grave sites. A Xmas sauna should be expected.


  • FRANCE: After a midnight mass on Xmas EVE, a large meal called le reveillon is had. Most people don’t decorate the outside of their homes, however the town or city will be decked out with lights and Xmas


  • GERMANY: Advent (4 wks b-4 Xmas) is big. Xmas trees are very important and are usually decorated by the mother of the family in secret. GER is also well known for its Xmas Markets (Xmas foods and decorations are sold). Finally, Sternsinger (star singers) go house to house caroling and collect money for charity.


  • GREECE: Saint Nicolas was the protector of sailors, and you will find wooden boats decorated with lights instead of Xmas Children will go caroling, and during the 12 days of Xmas, goblins are said to tease people and eat their food.


  • INDIA has a relatively small Christian population. Xmas celebrations are therefore quite small as compared to other Indian festivals. A banana or mango tree is decorated, and many homes will have a Xmas


  • IRELAND: Similar to the US. The Irish celebrate from Xmas EVE to the Epiphany(Jan 6). Boxing Day is very important to Irish culture; they call it Stephen’s Day and football (soccer) matches and horseracing are common.


  • JAPAN: Known as a time to spread happiness, rather than a religious holiday, Xmas norms such as gift giving and sending Xmas cards are gaining popularity. Fried chicken is often eaten on Xmas. (It’s KFC’s biggest day in Japan).


  • S AFRICA: Traditional Xmas staples such as caroling, tree decorating, gift giving and stocking hanging are popular.


  • U KINGDOM: Families gather and open gifts. Xmas trees, lights and decorations, Caroling and Church activities are common. Children write their wish lists to FR Xmas (Santa) and they throw them in the back of the fireplace, hoping they “draft up” and to the North Pole.


  • UKRAINE: Celebrated on Jan 7 according to the Gregorian calendar. Xmas meal called Sviata Vecheria (holy supper) consists of 12 courses to represent to the 12


  • US: Due to the multi-cultural nature of the country, Xmas traditions are plentiful and varied. For the meal, Western European descendants tend to have turkey or ham with cranberry sauce, while Eastern Europeans will favor turkey with kielbasa, cabbage and soups. Italian families will have lasagna or a pasta dish and Hispanic or Latino households will include tamales. Most Americans will decorate the outside of their houses with lights and other holiday décor with major cities having a public tree lighting ceremony. Xmas trees are the norm, and some will be decorated with pop-corn threaded on a string. In the southwest, it is common to find luminarias, or paper sacks with a candle inside which are lit on Xmas EVE and placed along pathways or sidewalks. They represent “lighting the way” for Mary and Joseph to find a place to stay.


  • VENEZUELA, CARACAS: Roads close to cars, as locals’ roller blade to church “shooting off” fireworks proclaiming “Jesus is Born!” Nativity scenes are more popular than Xmas

About bernacmd

For over 24 years, University of Detroit Mercy Marketing Professor Michael Bernacchi, Ph.D., J.D, has produced "uNDER tHE mIKE-rOSCOPE", a newsletter discussing current "marketing and advertising¹s bends, trends & ends." A well-know fixture in Detroit and national media, UDM's marketing guru has made several appearances on CNN's "Talk Back Live," the Voice of America worldwide radio network (VOA), ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC and on the pages of Sports Illustrated, Time, TV Guide, the New York Times, USA Today, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post, to name a few. At University of Detroit Mercy, he has taught courses in Marketing Management, Consumer Behavior, Marketing Communications, Research and Corporate Social Responsibility and Sports and Entertainment Marketing. Michael Bernacchi can be reached at 313-993-1116 or Please appropriately attribute the following for their work on uNDER tHE mIKE-rOSCOPE: Yen Ju Lee Robert Rouse Vidhyasagar Natarajan Eric Baumgardner & Ian Young
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