Top 10 Christmas Traditions around the World.
When we think of Christmas traditions, we often think of kissing under the mistletoe, hanging our stockings over the fire, leaving out cookies and milk for Santa. But these Christmas traditions aren’t world wide. In this article we will touch on the different Christmas traditions around the word and while some are truly beautiful, others seem rather strange.
1. The Giant Lantern Festival (Ligligan Parul Sampernandu)
The festival is held each year the Saturday before Christmas Eve at the “Christmas Capital of the Philippines” located in San Fernando. People gather from all over the country and across the globe to view the festival. Eleven villages take part and the stakes are high as everyone pitches in trying to build the most elaborate lantern. In the beginning, the lanterns were simple creations around half a metre in diameter, made from Japanese origami paper and lit by candle. Today, the lanterns are made from a variety of materials and have grown to around 6 metres in size. They are illuminated by electric bulbs that sparkle in mesmerizing kaleidoscope patterns.
2. Krampus, Austria
In Austria, there is a creature named Krampus that roams city streets scaring kids and punishing the bad ones. Krampus is St. Nicholas’ evil accomplice. St. Nicholas rewards nice little boys and girls, while Krampus is said to capture the naughtiest children and whisk them away in his sack. In the first week of December, young men dress up as the Krampus frightening children with clattering chains and bells.
3. The Yule Lads, Iceland
In the 13 days leading up to Christmas, 13 tricksy troll-like characters come out to play in Iceland. ‘The Yule Lads’ visit children across the country over the 13 nights until Christmas. For each night of Yuletide, children place their best shoes by the window and a different Yule Lad visits, leaving gifts for nice girls and boys and rotting potatoes for the naughty ones.
These fellas are pretty mischievous, and their names hint at the type of trouble they like to cause:
- Stekkjastaur (Sheep-Cote Clod),
- Giljagaur (Gully Gawk),
- Stúfur (Stubby),
- Þvörusleikir (Spoon-Licker),
- Pottaskefill (Pot-Scraper),
- Askasleikir (Bowl-Licker),
- Hurðaskellir (Door-Slammer),
- Skyrgámur (Skyr-Gobbler),
- Bjúgnakrækir (Sausage-Swiper),
- Gluggagægir (Window-Peeper),
- Gáttaþefur (Doorway-Sniffer),
- Ketkrókur (Meat-Hook)
- Kertasníkir (Candle-Stealer).
4. Saint Nicholas’ Day, Germany
Nikolaus travels by donkey at night on December 6 and leaves little treats like coins, chocolate, oranges and toys in the shoes of good children all over Germany. St. Nicholas also visits children in schools or at home. To be able to recieve sweets or a small present each child must recite a poem, sing a song or draw a picture. However, St. Nick often brings along Knecht Ruprecht. A devil-like character dressed in dark clothes covered with bells and a dirty beard, Knecht Ruprecht carries a stick or a small whip in hand to scare any children who misbehave.
5. Norway – Hide your brooms
On Christmas Eve in Norway, people hide their brooms. This tradition goes back centuries to when people believed that witches and evil spirits came out on Christmas Eve looking for brooms to ride on. To this day, many people still hide their brooms in the safest place in the house to stop them from being stolen.
6. Venezuela – Roller Blading
Here’s another unique one. Every Christmas Eve, the city’s residents head to church in the early morning on roller skates. Roads across the city are closed to cars so that people can skate to church in safety, before heading home for the less-than-traditional Christmas dinner of ‘tamales’ (a wrap made out of cornmeal dough and stuffed with meat, then steamed).
7. Day of the Little Candles, Colombia
Día de las Velitas (Little Candles Day) marks the start of the Christmas season across Colombia. To honour the Virgin Mary & the Immaculate Conception candles and paper lanterns are put in people’s windows, balconies and front yards.Towns and cities across the country are lit up with elaborate displays. Some of the best are found in Quimbaya, where neighbourhoods compete to see who can create the most impressive arrangement.
8. A Cobweb Christmas: Ukraine
Ukraine’s strangest festive tradition is not one for individuals scared of spiders! Ukrainians use decorations that mimic the natural formation of spiders’ webs shimmering with dew.
The tradition goes back to a folktale about a poor widow who could not afford to decorate a tree for her children. Legend has it that spiders in the house took pity and spun beautiful webs all over the tree, which the children awoke to find on Christmas morning. Spiders’ webs are also considered to be lucky in Ukrainian culture. So remember that next time you walk through one and are freaking out. Maybe it’s just good luck… However, they also say getting pooped on by a bird is good luck and that too sounds questionable, but at least it brings some comfort to a very unfortunate situation.
9. Germany – Pickle in Tree
The Christmas tree tradition embraced around the world today is believed to have started in Germany back in the 16th Century, so it comes as no surprise that our Teutonic cousins still have some funny customs relating to the festive trees. One of these is to hide a pickle somewhere within the branches of the tree, and give a gift to whichever child in the household finds it.
10. Shoes by the Fire – The Netherlands
Every year in the days leading up to December 5th, Dutch children eagerly place their shoes by the fire in hopes that Sinterklaas will fill them with small gifts and treats in the night. Traditionally, carrots are left in the shoes for the companion of Sinterklaas, a white horse named Amerigo.
** These Christmas traditions were found from https://www.momondo.ca/discover/christmas-traditions-around-the-world **