Christmas around the world

Every family has their own set of Christmas traditions. Whether it be waiting up until midnight to open gifts right on Christmas, or leaving cookies and milk for Santa, traditions have helped keep the joy and spirit of Christmas alive.

We know what is done in America: the usual family get together with food and an abundance of sweets. But, in other countries the definition of Christmas tradition has a very different meaning.

According to Momondo, a travel fare aggregator, 10 of the most celebrated traditions around the world were narrowed down according to travel frequency and lends a hand to the exposure of oneself to other experiences of another country.

Each year on the Saturday before Christmas Eve, the Philippines hosts a Giant Lantern Festival. The tradition originally started out as a way to decorate and prepare for the holidays to come with only small paper mache lanterns. Spectators quickly sought out the competition of the situation and made it a festival to display the biggest and most beautiful of the lanterns made.

Much like the Philippines, Sweden likes to add competition to their holidays but with a little bit of a twist. Every year since 1966 in the church season of advent, a 13-foot goat was built to be displayed in the middle of Gavle’s Castle Square. This tradition took a wide left turn after people from the surrounding area decided to take things one step further and not only build the goat but use their best efforts to try to burn it down. There is no hard feelings toward the animal of the holiday, just a tradition that got a little boring for some. The last successful burning of the goat was in 2016.

Austria has a much different approach than the nice bright colors that are associated with the Christmas holiday. Instead for them it is a time to not only welcome Santa Claus but also his evil accomplice, Krampus. The Krampus character was brought about in an effort to encourage bad kids to be good or Krampus would come and take you and all your toys with him in his sack. Numerous people can be seen throughout the month, especially Christmas Eve, dressing as Krampus in an effort to scare kids and encourage them to act better.

Not many things in Japan are big, in fact, most things are smaller than normal. But this new tradition is not only big, but invites a dear friend from America to join in and celebrate. Families all across Japan are making Kentucky Fried Chicken their go-to meal for the holiday season. This small quirky tradition has become a big hit as KFC menus all over Japan will see family meal deals and specials.

As Japan welcomes new traditions to their country, Iceland is OK with sticking to their old ones. One of the main traditions that is known from Iceland is the practice of Yuletide. Yuletide refers to the 13 days leading up to Christmas and directs children to leave a pair of their shoes outside with hopes of waking up and finding a small gift. The Yuletide Lads are a group of men who go around their surrounding area filling the shoes of children with candy, fruits, small toys or things like potatoes for children who have been bad, to bring joy and excitement as the holiday draws near.

Germany has the same idea as Iceland when it comes to traditions except they like to keep it nice. Saint Nicholas pays visit to kids and leaves small gifts of coins or small candies in exchange for children singing songs for him or reciting poems.

It may be surprising to some that America has one of the largest Jewish communities compared to other countries. One of the most known traditions celebrated by Jewish people from the U.S. is the lighting of the Menorah in Washington, D.C. The annual lighting of this giant Menorah is to celebrate Hanukkah and takes place right outside the White House.

A common Mexican or Latin American tradition would be to go church on Christmas. Venezuela took this tradition a step further and added roller skates. The city of Caracas and their citizens close all major roads and modes of transportation to create a safety belt for all those choosing to be on roller skates that day. Participators say there is no specific reason, but why not?

The last two traditions are from Toronto and Colombia and both involve the beauty of lights. In Columbia they have an event called The Little Day of Lights where candles can be lit all over the country to show the immaculate conception of Mary and commence the Christmas season. In Toronto they decorate a tree composed of over 300,000 lights to help illuminate the city. There are also special events where firework shows can be seen along with the lighting of the tree every day.

So if you feel like your holiday season is a little bland and you want your family to try new things, take a look at what their doing around the world. Roller Skating and KFC definitely sounds like a Christmas that can appeal to most.

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