Holidays are a fun time to gather and spend time with family. Often these celebrations come with traditions, such as decorating Christmas trees. Here are some fun holiday traditions from around the world.
1. La Befana in Italy
Santa Clause is not known to the children in Italy. Instead, a sweet old witch gives the children their gifts. The parents will leave broccoli with sausage and a glass of wine for the Befana. The witch flies around on her broom and enters the house through a chimney. Children wake up to find their stockings filled with treats, like clothing and toys.
The Befana comes on January 6, during The Feast of the Epiphany. Epiphany commemorates when the three Wise Men brought gifts for Baby Jesus.
2. KFC Dinner for Japan Christmas
Christmas isn’t too celebrated in Japan, but on December 25th, many families have a KFC dinner. It’s such a popular tradition that chains ask customers to place their orders in advance. The feast started in 1974 when visitors wanted a traditional holiday meal.
Plus, the idea of family sharing portions fits with Japanese dining culture. Other countries have their own Christmas meal traditions. For example, Mexicans enjoy tamales and the French enjoy turkey with chestnut stuffing.
3. Diwali in India
Diwali is a five-day festival celebrated by the Hindus. It honors good over evil and light over darkness. That’s why the event is filled with candles and firecrackers. People also honor the Hindu deity Lakshmi, who represents wealth. Sweet treats like gulab jamun, fried balls soaked in rose-water syrup are also served.
4. St. Nicholas Day in the Czech Republic
While many Americans know Santa Clause, some don’t know the legend of St. Nick. Santa is based on St. Nicholas, a Greek Bishop who watched over children. So, St. Nick visits the children accompanied by both an angel and a devil.
Based on how the child behaved that year, the kid either gets a treaty from the angel or is frightened by the Devil. There are often festivals in Prague where kids dress as angels and devils.
5. Christmas Tree Boats in Greece
Boats wrapped in strings of light decorate Greece during Christmas time. You can find them in the water or on the main square. These provide beautiful scenery for late-night strolls. The tradition could have started due to the country’s ancient maritime ties.
Greek sailors played a critical role in the country’s struggle for independence. Another reason may be that St. Nicolas is the patron saint of sailors.
6. The Thirteen Troll-Like Yule Lads In Iceland
These characters are like Santa Clause and have their own personalities. The Lads live in the mountains and come to town one by one in December. They give gifts to children 13 nights before Christmas. The toys are placed in the children’s shoes unless they are bad and receive rotten potatoes. The Yule Lads are a mischievous group that steals food and slams doors.
7. Simbang Gabi in the Philippines
The Philippines is a popular destination for Christians. The Simbang Gabi is a series of pre-dawn masses that culminate on Christmas eve. There is a festive atmosphere with bands and colorful lanterns. That way, you can wake up before the mass. Street vendors sell popular treats, such as puto bumbong, a sticky rice cake.
8. Las Posadas in Mexico
These are night professionals proceeding Christmas Eve. The people recreate the biblical scene of Mary and Jesus seeking shelter. The event usually involves singing and children dressing as angels. The night ends with the people ending a night at someone’s home. They are initially turned away but then welcomed with tamales and punch.
The party ends with hitting a ceremonial candy-filled piñata. It’s often shaped like a seven-pointed star representing the seven deadly sins.
9. Sufganiyot in Israel
These are jelly-filled donuts topped with powdered sugar and eaten during Hanahuk. Hannahuk is an eight-day festival of lights celebrated in December. It marks the victory of the Maccabees, Jewish freedom fighters, over the Greek occupiers. While it’s still unclear why the donut is symbolic of the holiday, there are some theories. One is that Moroccan and European Jews enjoyed these doughnuts before they were popular in Israel.
10. The Yule Goat in Sweden
This has been a Swedish Christmas symbol since ancient pagan festivals. The Yule goat emigrated from Scandinavia with settlers. However, today the tradition is to create a giant straw goat called the Gävle Goat. Each year, the display is constructed in the same spot and decorated with red ribbons. There is even a live stream of the process from the first Sunday of Advent until after the New Year.
Holiday Traditions From Around the World
Every country has its own unique set of traditions. Some are similar, such as Santa Claus and St. Nick. However, others are more representative of a country’s culture. For example, Greece decorates boats due to its maritime heritage. So, consider some of these fun traditions for your next holiday celebration.