Christmas is coming, a special time of the year that is cherished by some and dreaded by others: A religious celebration turned into a consumerism festival, that can’t be denied but a good excuse to gather the whole family and spend quality time together, which is why it is a time of mixed feelings for many, as they especially missed their loved ones who have passed away.
However, our job today isn’t to explore on what Christmas can mean for people, but to gather a few surprising traditions that show how differently can people celebrate one same thing. Christmas can mean different things to people… And can look very different as well!
5 Christmas traditions in Europe you didn’t know
We don’t need to go too far to be surprised by Christmas traditions ¾our closest neighbours can have the weirdest ones! Let’s take a look at some of the most interesting Christmas events in Europe:
- A goat the size of a mammoth: Gävle is a Swedish town located by the Baltic sea that has a very special tradition. Every year, their Christmas is presided by a majestic Yule Goat (a Christmas symbol in Scandinavia) made of straw. It’s not a life-size goat, though, but a giant one! This tradition has lived one since the 60s, but, unfortunately, trying to burn it has also become some sort of tradition. It has been damaged 36 times.
- Norwegian… brooms: Their Norwegian neighbours also have a funny one, as they hide their brooms. The tradition dates back from centuries ago, when it was believed that the witches came out in Christmas to find brooms to fly with.
- Lentils for good luck: Some of the interesting Christmas traditions include New Year, as in many places some customs are dedicated to calling for good luck. That is the case of Italy, where the menu for New Year’s Eve is lentils, as that means you will have money the rest of the year. If only it worked!
- Or 12 grapes instead: In Spain, the first thing absolutely everybody does right at the start of the year is eating grapes. That’s right! As the clock gives the twelve strokes, the Spanish have to eat the 12 grapes that symbolise 12 months full of good luck. They have to finish in time, so it’s not uncommon for people to start the year laughing with a mouth full of grapes.
- A Christmas from hell: In Austria, Santa has an evil partner: Krampus. He takes the children who have been bad and punishes them… So during the first week of December, there are people dressed up as Krampus scaring all the kids they find!
5 surprising Christmas traditions from around the world
If some of the Christmas traditions surprised you, buckle up for some of the most curious typical things for Christmas time in the rest of the world:
- A summer Christmas: Most of you readers will be from the northern hemisphere, where Christmas is a cold, snowy and magical time. However, Christmas looks and feels very different in the other half of the world! The southern hemisphere celebrates Christmas and the New Year in the summer, and, of course, their way of celebrating goes accordingly. In Australia, beach parties are the way to go, and they have picnics all around. Same happens in Argentina, for instance, although we have to say that not all is adapted to the weather. Their Santas still dress in winter clothes, and their menus also have heavy desserts and meals that sound more apt to the winter.
- Fast-food Christmas: Japan is not too big in Christmas celebrations, but in the last few years, the new tradition is to have dinner in Kentucky Fried Chicken. They even make a special Christmas menu for the occasion!
- Putting other Christmas lights to shame: In San Fernando, Philippines, there is a beautiful tradition. In several towns, they build giant, colourful lanterns and compete to see who has the most beautiful one. They can be up to six meters tall!
- Tunnels of lights: Colombia may not have such ambitious lanterns, but they have a beautiful way of lighting up for Christmas. They place candles and paper lanterns all around, in the streets and the balconies, everywhere! So everything is populated with small and elaborated lights. A truly beautiful sight.
- Religion still counts: In Mexico, celebrations start on the 16th with the Posadas, representations of the scarcities suffered by Saint Joseph and the Virgin Mary while trying to find shelter. During those nine days, the families take turns to celebrate a Posada each, and there is a party after. In Christmas Eve, there is a special mass called the Misa de Gallo, which takes place at midnight or shortly before. Christmas dinner doesn’t take place until after that mass.
This are a few, but, of course, there are many other interesting Christmas traditions around the world. Is yours missing in this list? Don’t forget to tell us in the comment section, we’re looking forward to learn about it!