12 Unique Christmas Traditions from All Over the World
Most of the times we take for granted that our way of celebrating Christmas is universal and commonly shared, however this is definitiely not the case! Did you ever think about how other countries have different ways of celebrating Christmas? From typical dishes to creepy and weird characters, you will find out more after reading this collection of Unique Christmas traditions from all over the world!
What Christmas looks like around the world
Sweden: Gävle Goat
In the city of Gävle, Sweden, each year before Christmas a giant straw goat is built. According to the Swedish tradition, Santa Claus rode a goat in order to bring presents to the kids. Due to this, the goat became for Sweden a Christmas ornament and symbol. Every year people make bets on whether the straw goat will make it to Christmas because, over the years, many were the attempts at lighting it on fire. Do you think this year's is going to last?
Ukraine: Christmas Spider
Have you ever thought about decorating your Christmas tree with spiders and cobwebs? For Ukraine this is their typical way of doing things. This tradition originates from an Eastern European folktale: overnight, a spider covered in cobwebs the bare Christmas tree of a poor family. On Christmas morning, the cobwebs were turned into gold and silver by the sunlight and the family never lived in poverty again. For this reason, in Ukraine it's common to have cobweb ornaments hung on their Christmas trees as good fortune for the upcoming year.
Australia: Surfing Santa
Australia is lucky enough to enjoy Christmas during summer break, which makes celebrating slightly different from what we're used to. For example, Santa Claus has to wear appropriate clothing for the weather: sunglasses, flowery trunks and flip-flops. Moreover, Australia hosts the annual Surfing Santa competition! Houndreds of surfers dressed up as Santa Claus gather to crash some waves usually for charitable purposes.
Italy: Traditional Food
Italy always comes in first when it comes to food, and Christmas traditional food doesn't make an exception of course! As always, every region has very specific and different dishes for the big family Christmas meal, however, desserts are nationally shared. Did you ever try them? In Italy there has been a never-ending dispute in between people who prefer 'panettone' or 'pandoro' for example. Panettone originates from Milan while Pandoro from the city of Verona. They are both sweet bread based desserts but, while panettone holds raisins and candied fruit, pandoro is originally empty but served with icing sugar. So, do you have your favourite yet?
Philippines: Giant Lantern Festival
The Philippines have their very own and unique Christmas decoration: the parol. It's a lantern made of bamboo and Japanese paper typically in the shape of a star (to resemble the comet that guided the Wise Men) but can come in a big variety of shapes and sizes. It's such a popular tradition that the city of San Fernando yearly hosts the Giant Lantern Festival.
USA: Christmas Pickle
Traditionally, in the United States it's common to hang a pickle-shaped glass ornament on the Christmas tree. On December 25th, whoever finds it first gets an extra present or is said to have good fortune for the new year. Apparently, this tradition originates from Germany and was imported in the States by immigrants. The point of this 'game' is for kids to learn to not rush to open gifts but to take their time to enjoy the moment of Christmas morning along with the family.
South Africa: Caterpillars
Hoping to give a twist to this year's Christmas menu or at least have an interesting topic to talk about those around you? Then you should know that in South Africa one of the typical Christmas courses is the fried Sundried Emperor Moth caterpillar. It is said to be very nutritious and tasty. You could surprise your guests with this random interesting fact and offer them a Christmas they'll never forget!
Iceland: Yule Lads
Are you familiar with Father Christmas? Well, Iceland has 13 of them! They are called 'Yule Lads'. From December 12th children put a shoe on the window sill for one Yule Lad to fill with a gift, one by one every night unitl Christmas. Nonetheless, the Lads are actually naughty pranksters (their names reflect their unpleasant behaviour) and will put rotten potatoes in misbehaved children's shoes.
Not only Austria, but most Alpine towns share this tradition: it's the legend of Krampus. Commonly, the character of Krampus could be described as half-goat and half-demon with horns. His role is to scare and punish badly behaved kids, as opposed to Saint Nicholas who praises the well-behaved ones by bringing presents on December 6th. The night before (Krampusnacht), men dress up as Krampus (with extremely realistic and accurate costumes) and run through the streets chasing people and hitting them with birch sticks as well. These events are not scary just for the kids. Who said that Christmas couldn't be creepy?
Tired of cooking big Christmas meals for the whole family? Do it the Japanese way and have a Kentucky Fried Chicken Christmas meal this year! In Japan, people order weeks ahead of time to get to enjoy their special KFC Christmas dinner. Apparently, this tradition started in the 70s due to good marketing strategies. For example, KFC was sold like the traditional American Christmas food. Over the years this tradition just settled amongst the Japanese population.
Mexico starts celebrating Christmas from December 16th with 'Las Posadas'. Every night leading up to Christmas, processions that resemble Mary and Joseph's search for lodging are held in the cities. Each time a different house hosts the Posada party with food, games, fireworks and piñatas for the kids. However, today almost any party held around Christmas is called a 'posada'.
United Kingdom: Christmas Crackers
Last but not least comes the United Kingdom! Christmas crackers are now a common tradition for many other countries as well, but did you know that they were originally invented in the UK as far back as the 1847? For those who are not familiar with this tradition, crackers are a festive table decoration: small cardboard tubes covered in colourful and shiny paper. When the cracker gets pulled it makes a snapping sound. Usually they hold small gifts, fun party hats or very bad dad jokes.
Maybe this year could be the time to twist things a little and celebrate with an unique Christmas tradition from a different part of the world? Hoping this blog inspired you to do so and maybe also to travel directly to that country for Christmas and see it for yourself!
CheapTickets can help you book your flights to incredible destinations all over the world in order to celebrate an unforgettable Christmas this year.
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