Ever wonder what some other countries besides the United States may do the celebrate the holidays? Ever wonder what traditions other countries may have that you may have never even heard of before? I, for one, am always fascinated by other cultures and how they celebrate certain times of the year. I am also always intrigued by the fact that one common holiday can be celebrated in so many different ways. So I decided to compile a list of some of the more unique traditions specific countries have to properly celebrate the holidays in their cultural fashion! ENJOY!
10. KFC in Japan
In Japan since it is not a wildly celebrated holiday for religious purposes, Christmas is a time to embrace some ‘American’ traditions. The main tradition many do on Christmas in Japan? Eat a whole lot of fried chicken! Usually from KFC! Sounds like a good way to celebrate if you ask me.
9. Ukraine: Legend of The Christmas Spider
Originating in the Ukraine, the story goes that a poor old widow could not afford any Christmas ornaments for her children’s Christmas tree. Once asleep, a spider who lived within the home had pity for the poor woman and decorated the tree in his spindling web. When the light hit the tree just right, it shined prettier than any ornaments could! It was said from that moment on the family never lived in poverty again. Now to this day, the legend lives on and many in Eastern Europe still decorate their tree with cobwebs or a simple spider ornament to show their respect for the story.
8. Catalonia, Spain: The Pooping Log
Known as the Christmas Log, Catalonians definitely know how to make the holidays interesting. Each December a hollowed out log equipped with feet and a face is purchased by families. It is then up to the children to “care” for the log including feeding and putting it to sleep up until Christmas. When the holiday arrives, children beat the log with a stick until it bursts, unleashing candies and nuts for all to enjoy. Lovely.
7. Norway: Broom Sticks
It is a tradition in Norway to hide all brooms on Christmas Eve because it is believed that many wandering spirits and witches come out to play. One of their favorite things? A broom! So make sure you hide all your brooms well so no evil entities invite themselves in!
6. Colombia: Day of the Little Candles
Every year on December 7th, also known as the Eve of the Virgin Mary’s Immaculate Conception, Colombian towns are filled with paper lanterns and candlelight. These lights can line anything from households and yards to sidewalks and public spaces. These lights are to honor and celebrate Mary, and is considered a time of celebration of the Christmas season.
5. Philippines: The Giant Lantern Festival
Hosted in the “Christmas Capital of the Philippines” every year in December right before Christmas, San Fernando showcases a display of festive lights for all to enjoy. Each Barrio or town in the area creates a light display that is entered to compete with other town’s creations. The outcome is a gorgeous festival of lights that is considered the start of the Christmas season!
4. Venezuela: Rollerblading
Since Christmas is warmer in Venezuela, it has become a tradition for many to make the most of this warm holiday. It is said that on Christmas morning, the capital of Caracas has their streets shut down for families to come together and, well, rollerblade! It is said that this is normally many families’ main mode of transportation to attend Christmas Day mass.
3. Ireland: Buy Santa A Round
Ever wonder what children in other countries might leave for Santa on Christmas Eve? How about a pint of Guinness for the big man? And maybe a mince pie to accompany it? Yup! That’s how Irish children get ready for Christmas Day by leaving Santa something hell truly enjoy the night before! Believe it or not, leaving a beer for Santa is actually pretty common in many countries across the globe. I’m sure Santa just hates that ;).
2. Portugal: Consoada
Consoada means comforted and is the term usually used for the light dinner held on Christmas Eve in many Portuguese households. Christmas Eve Day is usually a day of fasting for many families, so a light meal is served at night (usually involving fish and not meat) to comfort their bellies while awaiting the arrival of Christmas Day. Many families in Portugal also leave out a few extra table settings. This is meant to signify family members who have recently passed on to allow them back in to enjoy the dinner. Some families will even leave the place settings out, extra food prepared, and a light on overnight to allow the spirits to enjoy the holiday.
1. United States: The Christmas Pickle
Now many of you who are looking at this title may be thinking, I thought the Christmas Pickle was a German thing? Well let me explain for you. In the late 1800s, Woolworth, a department store in the United States, started selling ornaments of various shapes and sizes imported from Germany. One of those ornaments was a pickle. The story goes that to help encourage the purchase of the ornaments, a legend surrounding the specific pickle ornament was created. It was said that the pickle ornament in Germany was the last to be put on Christmas trees every year and the person who discovered it not only received good luck the following year, but also received an extra present. Although there is no actual proof that the tradition originated in Germany besides being a German export, the tradition still lives on in many American homes to this day.