The holidays are infused with traditions. Some traditions are very specific to our families, while others are cultural. In fact, how others celebrate Christmas around the world could surprise you. Here are just a few of the many varied traditions around the world.
Australia: For Aussies, December is the middle of summer, so Christmas is usually an outdoors affair – trips to the beach and cookouts. In fact, Santa is usually dressed for a dip in the ocean!
Holland: In the Netherlands, children await Sinterklaas who brings them presents on December 5th – St. Nicholas Eve. Sinterklaas parties consist of games and treasure hunts where children follow clues and poems to find their gifts. Christmas Day, on the other hand, is a quiet celebration with families attending Church and then sharing a family meal.
Ukraine: Spider webs and Christmas don’t normally go together, unless you live in Ukraine. Local tradition tells the story of a poor woman who couldn’t decorations for her Christmas tree. On Christmas morning, she found the tree was covered in spider webs, which turned into strands of gold and silver when the morning’s first light hit them. So people in the Ukraine cover their trees with spider webs, hoping for the same good fortune.
Japan: While Christmas isn’t an official holiday, folks in Japan have an unusual way of celebrating: eating Kentucky Fried Chicken! Thanks to a huge advertising campaign in the 1970s, KFC promoted it’s chicken as the ideal way to celebrate Christmas – so much so that you need to make reservations if you want KFC on December 25th in Japan!
Venezuela: If you are in Caracas during Christmas, you’ll see one very strange site on Christmas morning: everyone roller skating to Christmas Mass. No one is exactly sure how it started, some suggest that it is an alternative to sledding (especially since it is summer in Venezuela!).
Scandinavia: Move over Rudolph…in Scandinavian countries it’s all about the yule goat! While its origins are in Scandinavian pagan customs, the julbock (yule goat) is now associated with bringing presents to children. Yule goat decorations are made of plaited straw and red ribbons. In fact, the largest yule goat erected in Gävle, Sweden – measuring 49 feet tall – made the 1993 Guinness Book of World Records!
Germany: Like Holland and other Central European countries, St. Nicholas is more important than Santa Claus, with big celebrations on December 5th. Germany is also known for its Christmas markets, which start popping up at the beginning of Advent. These markets were originally designed to bring a bit of cheer to the cold winters, and have become a cornerstone of the Christmas season. The most well-known markets are in Nuremberg, Dresden, Cologne and Frankfurt.
Italy: One of their most unique traditions is La Befana, which dates back to the 13th century. Coinciding with Epiphany (January 6th), La Befana (an old witch) travels on a magic broom to each house the in Italy the night before to bring gifts to the children. Like Santa, she climbs down chimneys and gives candy to good kids and coal to naughty kids. Children leave out stockings for her and even write notes to her. She's basically the Italian version of Santa Claus!
Iceland: In Iceland, children get presents from 13 Yule Lads – one on each of the 13 nights leading up to Christmas. If they are good, the Yule Lads will leave candy. But be careful – if you are naughty, they leave rotting potatoes!
Want to celebrate other holiday traditions around the world? Give Luxury Destinations Concierge a call at (805) 236-4437 to start planning your dream vacation today.
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