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Christmas Traditions

Updated: Sep 24, 2020


So for this post I am going to be diving into various traditions around the world for Christmas as well as the traditions that I grew up with.


My Families Christmas Traditions

My families traditions are fairly simple and straightforward. They have come from both what my mom and dad had growing up. on Christmas Eve we don't really do anything special except that we have spaghetti and meatballs for dinner every year. Because I went vegan last year I now make vegan meatballs for myself and enjoy the spaghetti with the rest of my family. The spaghetti tradition comes from my mom's side of the family as my grandma's mom was Italian and that was her families tradition. The last few years I have been making a tiramisu on Christmas eve as well and last year I veganized it.

Christmas day is also fairly straightforward. When we wake up in the morning we get breakfast started and then we open our stockings. After we eat breakfast we then open our presents. Once presents are open we clean up the mess and then clean up from breakfast as well. After that is all done we go about our day; depending on the weather we may go outside and go sledding, play with our dogs etc; if the weather is bad or it is really cold we may just stay inside and play board games and spend time together. Christmas dinner in our house is fairly simple; turkey, veggies, stuffing etc, basically your standard Christmas dinner. With me being vegan it varies on what I make for myself, it may be a vegan turkey cutlet from Gardien or it could just be that I eat veggies and that's it, it all depends on what I feel like eating. Usually there is tiramisu left over and if we feel like dessert we will eat some of that.



The Giant Lantern Festival (Ligligan Parul Sampernandu) is held each year on the Saturday before Christmas Eve in the city of San Fernando – the “Christmas Capital of the Philippines.” The festival attracts spectators from all over the country and across the globe. Eleven barangays (villages) take part in the festival and competition is fierce as everyone pitches in trying to build the most elaborate lantern. Originally, the lanterns were simple creations around half a metre in diameter, made from ‘papel de hapon’ (Japanese origami paper) and lit by candle. Today, the lanterns are made from a variety of materials and have grown to around six meters in size. They are illuminated by electric bulbs that sparkle in a kaleidoscope of patterns.



Since 1966, a 13-metre-tall Yule Goat has been built in the centre of Gävle’s Castle Square for the Advent, but this Swedish Christmas tradition has unwittingly led to another “tradition” of sorts – people trying to burn it down. Since 1966 the Goat has been successfully burned down 29 times – the most recent destruction was in 2016.

If you want to see how the Goat fares this year when it goes up on December 1st, you can follow its progress on the Visit Gävle website through a live video stream.



A beast-like demon creature that roams city streets frightening kids and punishing the bad ones – nope, this isn’t Halloween, but St. Nicholas’ evil accomplice, Krampus. In Austrian tradition, 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 (especially on the eve of St. Nicholas Day) frightening children with clattering chains and bells.



In the 13 days leading up to Christmas, 13 tricksy troll-like characters come out to play in Iceland. The Yule Lads (jólasveinarnir or jólasveinar in Icelandic) visit the children across the country over the 13 nights leading up to 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. Clad in traditional Icelandic costume, 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) and Kertasníkir (Candle-Stealer).



Not to be confused with Weihnachtsmann (Father Christmas), Nikolaus travels by donkey in the middle of the night on December 6 (Nikolaus Tag) and leaves little treats like coins, chocolate, oranges and toys in the shoes of good children all over Germany, and particularly in the Bavarian region. St. Nicholas also visits children in schools or at home and in exchange for sweets or a small present each child must recite a poem, sing a song or draw a picture. In short, he’s a great guy. But it isn’t always fun and games. St. Nick often brings along Knecht Ruprecht (Farmhand Rupert). 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 punish any children who misbehave.

I am sure that there are many places in Europe that have St. Nikolaus Day but this is the first one that I found :)



Perhaps one of the most unorthodox Christmas Eve traditions can be found in Norway, where people hide their brooms. 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, many people still hide their brooms in the safest place in the house to stop them from being stolen.



When Santa reaches Australia he trades his reindeer in for kangaroos, known as Six White Boomers (a popular local Christmas song). He also sheds his furry suit for some cooler clothes to beat the heat in the Outback. Beach barbecues are a popular way to celebrate with family. In addition to the traditional fare, many dine on seafood such as prawns or lobster. The celebratory meal is usually eaten at lunch time.



Forget milk and cookies. In Ireland it’s customary to leave mince pies and a bottle of Guinness out for Santa Claus. Another Christmas Even tradition involves leaving a tall, thick candle burning in the largest window. The candle is allowed to burn all night as a symbol to welcome Mary and Joseph.



In French homes, yule logs made of cherry wood are often burned. They’re sprinkled with red wine, which creates a nice aroma. The logs, along with candles, are left burning through the night. They’re accompanied by food and drinks that are left out in case Mary and the Jesus visit during the night. Christmas decorations often include a nativity crib that’s adorned with clay figures. In addition to the typical nativity characters, French scenes sometimes include a butcher, a baker, a priest, and a policeman.



Finland is long believed to be the home of Santa Claus or Father Christmas. He’s presumed to live in the Korvatunturi, or Lapland, north of the Arctic Circle. An address there receives letters to Santa Claus from all over the world. There’s also a large theme park called “Christmas Land” in the area. Another important Christmas figure is Joulupukki, which translates to “Christmas Goat.” This character was a scary goat who asked people for presents, without every giving any in return. Eventually, though he began giving gifts, a duty that was later taken on by Santa.



Caroling is popular in Greece, where children walk the streets singing and playing drums and triangles. According to custom, they often carry model boats that are painted gold and decorated with nuts. If they perform well, they are rewarded with sweets, nuts, or even money. Rather than a Christmas tree, many Greek homes display a shallow wooden bowl with a piece of wire suspended over it. From the wire hangs a cross wrapped in a sprig of basil. Each day the cross is dipped into holy water and sprinkled throughout the house to ward off evil spirits known as Killantzaroi, which appear during the 12 days from Christmas to Epiphany on January 6th.



Children in Brazil await a visit from Papai Noel or Bom Velhinho, which means Good Old Man. They leave him a sock near the window, which he exchanges for a gift. Another popular gift-giving tradition in Brazil involves those from an amigo secreto, a secret friend. These admirers give small gifts all through the month of December using a false name, only to reveal their true identify on Christmas Day.



Christmas day in Zimbabwe usually begins with a church service. After its conclusion, everyone goes from house to house to visit with all of their friends and family where they eat and exchange gifts. This celebration often lasts the rest of the day. Music is also a big part of the celebration. Many people place speakers outside the front of their homes and play their favorite tunes at loud volumes. This could include holiday songs, contemporary music, or even traditional African tunes.


If you want to learn more about different Christmas cultures around the world here is another website that you could have a look at:


So what did you think. Did I miss anything? What are your Christmas traditions?

Hope you enjoyed today's post

See you next time :)

#christmas #tradition #world #differences

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