Jordan is an incredible destination all year long, but there are times of year you may have specific questions about visiting. One example is Ramadan, when the vast majority of Jordanians observe the Islamic holy month fasting; this can affect tours and experiences during your trip, so it’s important to understand that.
Another time you might wonder about visiting is over Christmas. Unlike Ramadan, which shifts each year based on the moon phases and the Islamic calendar, Christmas is consistent year after year and thus easier to plan around – or plan for – when visiting Jordan.
So is Christmas a good time to visit Jordan? How do they celebrate Christmas in Jordan, if at all? In this post, I’ll answer all these questions and more, to help you decide if late December is when you want to visit Jordan, and what you can expect.
Jordan Weather in December
Before jumping into Christmas-specific information, I want to very briefly cover the general weather in Jordan in December. This is important since – regardless of holiday celebrations you partake in or avoid – it helps you understand what the experience will be like.
In December in Jordan, the average highs range from 50-60°F (10-15°C) and the average lows range from 40-45°F (4-7°C). December is mostly clear (not cloudy) but is one of the wettest months in Jordan, averaging about 1.5″ (4cm) of rain. Snow is even possible in certain parts of the country, such as the desert of Wadi Rum.
Now that you understand that December is about as wintry as it gets, let’s cover the specifics of visiting Jordan during Christmas.
Is Christmas Celebrated in Jordan?
Yes, people do celebrate Christmas in Jordan. This may come as a surprise for many travelers, considering Jordan is a Muslim country.
While the majority of Jordanians practice Islam, a small part of the population is Christian. As such, celebrations and religious practices related to Christianity are contemplated in Jordan’s calendar, with Christmas being one of them.
How People Celebrate Christmas in Jordan
Christian or non-Christian, Jordanians celebrate Christmas. The festive spirit is always present and expressed through different traditions and celebrations. Below you’ll find a section explaining how people celebrate Christmas in Jordan.
Jordan Christmas Traditions
As in the Western world, Jordanian Christmas traditions revolve around the family and include decorating trees and making delicious food. Here’s a list of the most spread Christmas customs in Jordan.
- Making a Christmas Cake – Making a Christmas cake, which is similar to our fruitcake, is a tradition shared by many Middle Eastern countries. In Jordan, people start preparations for the Christmas cake in early December. The first week of the month, they soak dried fruits in cognac, brandy, and rum, so that they’re moist and juicy. A day before Christmas, Jordanians take out the dried fruits and prepare the cake, using flour, eggs, and baking powder. The cake is served on Christmas Eve.
- Baking Cookies – Jordan is in the northern hemisphere, which means it celebrates Christmas during the winter, and, contrary to popular belief, the Jordan in December weather is actually very cold! In fact, Jordan in December is at its coldest.
That explains why baking goodies is such a popular Christmas tradition. A few days before Christmas, Jordanian women gather to bake traditional cookies called ka’ak and ma’amoul. These delicious date-filled cookies are made different from family to family, but the basics are a buttery dough, usually made with semolina, and a very sweet stuffing, usually of dates or nuts.
- Christmas Trees and Decorations – Of course, Jordanians also love to decorate trees and their houses with Christmas ornaments. While you will see shopping malls and boulevards showcasing their best Christmas outfit, houses will look quite plain. Jordanians tend to focus more on decorating the interior rather than the exterior of their houses. So don’t expect to see glittering reindeer sculptures on top of the roof like in American houses.
- Christmas Mass – Today, Christmas’ true meaning may get overshadowed by the commercial aspect surrounding it. However, this celebration has a strong religious meaning. Christmas commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ, a central figure in Christianity. Consequently, churches throughout Jordan celebrate a Christmas Mass.
Unlike the traditions mentioned above, attending Christmas Masses may be reserved for Jordanians who are practicing Christians only. Beware that Jordan doesn’t have a great diversity of Christian churches. The most prevalent doctrinal group here is the Eastern Orthodox Church, though you can find a couple of Roman Catholic Churches as well.
Jordan Christmas Celebrations
Christmas is also a secular holiday in the country. Consequently, there are other Jordan Christmas celebrations outside the family circle where everyone can participate. These celebrations are often organized by local governments or venues to ignite the festive spirit.
- Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony at The Boulevard – Jordan kicks off the festive season with the Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony at The Boulevard in Abdali. Locals and travelers alike come to take pictures with the tree and admire the colorful lights and decorations. The Boulevard also invites carollers, Frosty the Snowman, and Santa Claus to the ceremony, offering tons of entertainment and photo opportunities.
- Christmas Bazaars – Many hotels, shopping malls, and churches in Amman host Christmas bazaars. Here, you can find stalls, selling seasonal products and artsy gifts. There’s also live entertainment and tons of activities for little ones.
- The Christmas Village at Kan Zaman – The Christmas Village at Kan Zaman is Jordan’s first ever Christmas Village, having launched its first edition in 2017.
Already a gorgeous building, Kan Zaman is a 19th-century agricultural settlement that turns into a whimsical Christmas Village every December. There are all kinds of attractions; you’ll find a Christmas market featuring wooden stalls that offer very imaginable things and others serving Jordanian delicacies. There are also local musicians and Santa Claus makes an appearance for those who’d like to take a photo with him.
- Christmas Days at the Children’s Museum Jordan – Visiting Jordan as a family? Don’t worry, the Children’s Museum Jordan has the perfect Christmas activity for the smallest members of the family. The museum’s festive program includes activities like decorating their giant tree, playing with snow, lighting the tree, arts and crafts workshops, and watching Santa’s parade! It takes place from December 22 to December 25 from 10:00am to 6:00pm. Admission is 3 JD per person and free for Museum members.
How Visitors can Celebrate Christmas in Jordan
There are tons of ways in which travelers can celebrate Christmas in Jordan, depending on their interests and religious views.
You can basically take part in any of the celebrations mentioned above as Jordanians are very open to travelers and love to share their culture with others. If you’re a Christian, you can attend masses. If you just want a dose of Christmas spirit, feel free to explore any of the bazaars. Also, many hotels and restaurants host Christmas Eve events, serving dinner on December 24th.
Should You Visit Jordan over Christmastime?
Based on what we’ve explained so far, should you visit Jordan over Christmastime? The answer is a resounding yes.
Let’s start with the travelers that don’t celebrate Christmas. Given Christmas is also a secular holiday in Jordan, you won’t be overwhelmed by pompous celebrations nor experience a highly festive atmosphere like in the western world. Moreover, while it is a holiday, Christmas doesn’t affect most Jordanian’s everyday life as it does in America or Canada since it doesn’t have the same relevance. As a result, you don’t have to worry about canceling tours or missing cool activities.
Now, if you do celebrate Christmas, Jordan also has you covered. While not as big as Western celebrations, you’ll find enough activities to ignite and satiate your festive spirit. Also, Jordan is home to many Christian holy sites, and visiting these places can be a different way to celebrate this holiday.
Have any other questions about visiting for Christmas in Jordan? Let me know in the comments!