Whilst a lot of us have our own personal Christmas Traditions, others are celebrated nationwide. From drinking mulled wine, to having advent calendars and more, Christmas traditions are a great way to celebrate the festive season. However, have you thought of how other countries celebrate across the globe? Here, we discuss Christmas Traditions from around the world.
Since 1966, a 13 metre tall Yule Goat was built in the Castle Square in Galve’s centre to mark the beginning of Advent. The Yule goat is a Swedish Christmas symbol that dates back to ancient pagan festivals. However, it was not until the 1960s when someone decided to make a giant straw goat. The goat is a staggering 42 feet high, more than 20 feet wide and weighs over 3 and a half tonnes. Each year the goat is constructed in the same spot and people can see the build take place through a livestream on the first Sunday of Advent. Unfortunately, a second unofficial “tradition” has stemmed from the original one. Since its inception, the Yule Goat has been burned down 29 times.
The giant Lantern Festival (known as Ligligan Parul Sampernandu) is held the Saturday before Christmas in San Fernando. It is classed as the “Christmas Capital of the Philippines”. 11 villages take part in the festival which leads to fierce competition as everyone tries to build the most elaborate lantern. They are around six metres in size and are meant to be a symbol of the Star of Bethlehem.
Christmas is not widely celebrated in Japan and is not a national holiday, however, some of the citizens have found a delicious way to celebrate. By eating KFC! Over the past few years, people have had a Kentucky Fried Chicken Christmas Day feast. The tradition began in 1974 after an extremely successful KFC marketing campaign called “Kurisumasu ni wa kentakki” or “Kentucky for Christmas”. Now, on Christmas Day families head out together to enjoy some KFC with some ordering their boxes months in advance to make sure they don’t miss out.
Whilst some Christmas traditions are cosy and cute, others are just frightening. In Austria, a beast-like demon creature roams the streets, punishing bad children. This beast, known as Krampus, is St Nicholas’ evil companion. Whilst St Nicholas rewards the nicest children, Kampus’ job is said to capture the naughtiest children and take them away in his sack. You can imagine how the thought of Krampus will scare the children and make them behave in the build-up to Christmas.
Next on our list of Christmas Traditions from around the world is Iceland. In the 13 days leading up to Christmas, 13 trolls called the Yule Lads visit children across the country each night during Yuletide. Different Yule Lads visit leaving gifts for nice boys and girls and rotting potatoes for the naughty kids.
The citizens of Iceland also take part in Jolabokflod translated as “Christmas Book Flood”. On Christmas Eve, people gift each other a book and spend the evening cosying up and reading their new gift. This tradition dates back to World War II. Paper was one of the only commodities that was not rationed at the time. Iceland is a nation of book lovers and in late September, a free catalogue of the newest books called the Bokatidindi is sent to each home and then people hit the bookshops.
In Norway on Christmas Eve, people hide their brooms. Dating back centuries when people believed that witches and evil spirits came out on Christmas Eve looking for brooms to ride. Many people still hide their brooms in the safest places in their house to stop them from being stolen.
Julebord, which is Norwegian for the Christmas season, begins on December 3rd and people flock to local restaurants and bars throughout the month. Families also celebrate a mini Christmas on 23rd December where they spend the day decorating the tree, making a gingerbread house and eating risengrynsgrot (hot rice pudding).
Many US citizens take Christmas very seriously and get involved in many traditions in the build-up to Christmas. Sending holiday cards is one of these traditions. This involves creating a greeting card often with a family portrait on the front with all members of the family wearing matching Christmas jumpers or wearing outfits that complement each other. The photos are proudly displayed on the card and then sent to everyone in their address book.
Whilst this tradition is originally said to have come from Germany, many American households have adopted the tradition of hanging the Christmas pickle. A Christmas tree ornament in the shape of a pickle is hung discreetly on the tree. This usually becomes a game where children in the household have to try and find the pickle. The first one to spot it usually gets an extra present or gets to be the first one to open a gift on Christmas Day.
One of the stranger Christmas Traditions from around the world comes from Venezuela. Every Christmas Eve, the residents of the cities head to church in the morning, but on roller skates. This bizarre tradition is now so popular, some roads across the city are closed for cars between 16th and 24 December so that the skaters can travel to the church safely.
On Christmas Eve, many families share an unleavened religious wafer (also known as oplatek). Each person breaks off a piece as they wish each other Merry Christmas. Dinner is not allowed to start until the first star appears in the night sky. It is also another Polish tradition that an additional setting is placed at the table just in case someone uninvited arrives.
Many Swiss families make their own advent calendars. Parents often create calendars for their children or use it as a fun activity to do together. Each day’s bag reveals a new treat, with the biggest gift on Christmas Eve.
Whilst some of the Christmas Traditions from around the world seem cosy or fun, others are simply bizarre. There are so many great ways to celebrate. Are there traditions from another country that you are tempted to take part in?