Christmas is slowly coming closer, which makes many people happy and ready for the Christmas spirits. I myself got nothing with Christmas, it’s just a simple day celebrating with your loved ones over dinner. Though, some people think more of it and do more and many foreign countries got their own Christmas traditions. So, why don’t we take a look at those and see if it can uplift Christmas even more?
- Giant Lantern Festival (Philippines)
This festival is held each year on the Saturday before Christmas Eve in the city of San Fernando (also known as the Christmas Capital of the Philippines. Eleven villages take part in the festival and the competition is fierce, as everyone pitches in trying to build the most elaborate lantern. Originally they were simple creations from about half a metre in diameter, made from Japanese origami paper and lit by a candle. Though today, these lanterns are made from a variety of materials, grown to around six metres in size. They’re illuminated by electric bulbs, sparkling in a kaleidoscope of patterns.
2. Gävle Goat (Sweden)
A 13-metre-tall Yule Goat has been built in the center of Gävle’s Castle Square for the Advent, since 1966. Though, this tradition led to another one: people trying to burn it down. As of December 2019, the Goat has been damaged 37 times and burned down 29 times, since 1966. The most recent destruction was in 2016.
3. Krampus (Austria)
St. Nicholas’ evil accomplice is called Krampus, roaming the city streets frightening kinds and punishing the bad ones, looking like a beast-like demon. Though, in Austrian tradition, St. Nicholas rewards nice little children, while Krampus is said to capture the naughtiest children and whisk them away in his sack. Young men dress up as the Krampus in the first week of December (especially on the eve of St. Nicholas Day) to frighten children with clattering chains and bells.
4. Kentucky Fried Christmas Dinner (Japan)
Christmas isn’t that big of a deal in Japan, aside from small traditions such as gift-giving and light displays. However, a new, quirky tradition has emerged in recent years: a Christmas Day feast of the Colonel’s very own Kentucky Fried Chicken.
5. The Yule Lads (Iceland)
13 troll-like characters come out to play in Iceland, in the 13 days leading up to Christmas. They’re called the Yule Lads and they visit children across the country. Each night, children place their best shoes by the window and a Yule Lad visits, leaving gifts for nice children and rotting potatoes for the naughty ones. Dressed in traditional Icelandic costume, these lads are pretty mischievous as their names hint at the type of trouble they like to cause: Sheep-Cote Clod, Gully Gawk, Stubby, Spoon-Licker, Pot-Scraper, Bowl-Licker, Door-Slammer, Skyr-Gobbler, Sausage-Swiper, Window-Peeper, Doorway-Sniffer, Meat-Hook and Candle-Stealer.
6. Saint Nicholas’ Day (Germany)
Don’t confuse this with Father Christmas, as Nikolaus travels by donkey in the middle of the night on the 6th of December, leaving little treats like coins, chocolate, oranges and toys in the shoes of good children. In the Bavarian region, St. Nicholas also visits children in schools or at home. In exchange for sweets or a small present, each child must recite a poem, sing a song or draw something. St. Nicholas often brings Farmhand Rupert with him, a devil-like character dressed in dark clothes, covered with bells and a dirty beard. He carries a stick or small whip in hand to punish any children who misbehave.
7. Hiding brooms (Norway)
It may be an unorthodox Christmas Eve Tradition, but to me it actually sounds like fun: people hiding their rooms. It’s a tradition that dates 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, some people still hide their brooms. Just to be safe.
8. Lighting of National Hanukkah Menorah (Washington D.C. US)
The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah is celebrated as one of the most elaborate events taking place on a national stage. Since 1979, a giant nine-metre Menorah has been raised on the grounds of the White House, staying there for the eight days/nights of Hanukkah. The ceremony in Washington is marked with speeches, music, activities for kids and the lighting of the Menorah.
9. Roller skating (Venezuela)
In Caracas ti, every Christmas Eve, the city’s residents head to church in the early morning. And how they get there? Well, on roller skates. This unique tradition is in fact so popular, that roads across the city are closed, so people can skate to church before heading home for the Christmas dinner of tamales (a wrap made out of cornmeal dough, stuffed with meat. Then steamed).
10. Day of the Little Candles (Colombia)
Little Candles’ Day marks the start of the Christmas season across the country. In honour of the Virgin Mary and the Immaculate Conception, people place candles and paper lanterns in front of their windows, on their balconies and in their front yards.
11. Cavalcade of Lights (Toronto)
The Annual Cavalcade of Lights marks the official start to the holiday season. The first one took place in 1967 to show off Toronto’s newly constructed City Hall and Nathan Phillips Square. The Square and Christmas trees are illuminated by more than 300,000 LED lights that shine from dusk until 11 pm, all the way until New Year.
Love, Deem ❤
Image source: Pexels