We have so many Christmas traditions in the United States: trimming your Christmas tree, baking holiday cookies, and opening Christmas presents, to name a few. But how is Christmas celebrated around the world?
Some yuletide rituals remain the same no matter where you live, like singing carols, decorating a Christmas tree, making advent calendars, and feasting on a lot of Christmas ham, but we think some Christmas traditions around the world may surprise you. You may even want to start some of these traditions into your own home. And others, you might want to skip! How about waking to find rotten potatoes left in your shoes by a mischievous Father Christmas? Or Kentucky Fried Chicken for your Christmas dinner? Believe it or not, those are actual Christmas traditions around the world.
From Christmas by the beach with fresh seafood in New Zealand, to hot porridge that keeps families warm during the cold Finland winter, you’ll discover just how different these global holiday traditions are. What’s more, we think you’ll wow your family during your Christmas party with all of the following interesting Christmas trivia.
The Yule Goat has been a Swedish Christmas symbol dating back to ancient pagan festivals. However, in 1966, the tradition got a whole new life after someone came up with the idea to make a giant straw goat, now referred to as the Gävle Goat. According to the official website, the goat is more than 42 feet high, 23 feet wide, and weighs 3.6 tons. Each year, the massive goat is constructed in the same spot. Fans can even watch a livestream from the first Sunday of Advent until after the New Year when it’s taken down.
If you thought the United States went all out with Christmas decorations, you should see what the Philippines does. Every year, the city of San Fernando holds Ligligan Parul (or Giant Lantern Festival) featuring dazzling parols (lanterns) that symbolize the Star of Bethlehem. Each parol consists of thousands of spinning lights that illuminate the night sky. The festival has made San Fernando the “Christmas Capital of the Philippines.”
Similar to the 12 days of Christmas in the U.S., Iceland celebrates 13. Each night before Christmas, Icelandic children are visited by the 13 Yule Lads. After placing their shoes by the window, the little ones will head upstairs to bed. In the morning, they’ll either have received candy (if they’re good) or be greeted with shoes full of rotten potatoes if they’re bad. And you thought coal was a terrible gift!
On Christmas morning, Finish families traditionally eat a porridge made of rice and milk topped with cinnamon, milk, or butter. Whoever finds the almond placed inside one of the puddings “wins”—but some families cheat and hide a few almonds so the kids don’t get upset. At the end of the day, it is customary to warm up in a sauna together.
Because summer falls during Christmastime for Kiwis, a number of their traditions center around a barbie, or grill, where families and friends gather for a casual cookout of fresh seafood, meat, and seasonal vegetables. The New Zealand Christmas tree is the Pohutukawa, a coastal species that blooms a bright-red color in December, providing shade during the sunny days as they sing carols in both English and Maori.
Before Christianity came to the Danes, Christmas Day was a celebration of brighter days, jól, as it occurred just before winter solstice. Today, homes are decorated with superstitious characters called nisser who are believed to provide protection. On the evening of December 24, Danish families place their Christmas tree in the middle of the room and dance around it while singing carols.
Also Read : Christmas Tree Facts