6 Christmas Traditions Around the World
Humans all over the world have celebrated the Winter Solstice for centuries. It’s dated as far back as the creation of Stonehenge. People could tell from the alignment of the stars and the length of the days that the year had come to a close. December 25 marks the end of the solstice, and the beginning of longer days. Each civilization has their own special traditions associated with this holiday.
- Norway: Hide The Brooms
This tradition dates back several centuries. It was thought that witches and evil spirits would come out on Christmas Eve as part of the Winter Solstice. To prevent the evil spirits from lingering, they hide their brooms so that they don’t ride off into the night.
- Iceland: The Yule Lads
In the thirteen days leading up to Christmas, thirteen troll-like characters come out to play. Each night, young kids leave their shoes out for the Yule Lads. Some are surprised with goodies, and other naughty kids get rotten potatoes. The characters wear traditional Icelandic clothes, and each have a favorite mischievous activity as given in their names. There’s Spoon-Licker, Window Peeper, and Doorway-Sniffer, to name a few.
- Sweden: Gavle Goat
Since 1966, the 13-foot Gavle Goat has been erected in the middle of the Gavle Castle Square for the Advent season. Another tradition sprung up around the goat, which is to try and burn it down. The goat has been successfully burned 29 times since 1966. 2016 was the latest year that the goat didn’t survive.
- Egypt: Holy Nativity Fast
This tradition is part of the Eastern Orthodox Church, and it spans the entire Advent season. You fast from all meat and animal products during this season to honor the animals of the nativity. On Christmas Eve, you don’t eat any solid foods for the entire day until the first star is seen in the sky.
- Philippines; Giant Lantern Festival
This fantastic festival is held every year on the Saturday before Christmas Eve in San Fernando. This special city is known for being the Christmas capital of the Philippines. Eleven local villages compete to create the most elaborate lantern. They started off small with a thin paper structure and lit by candle. Now they are six meters wide, lit by bulbs, and made with intricate shapes and colors to look like a kaleidoscope.
- Germany: St. Nicholas Day
In Germany, December 6th is reserved for St. Nicholas Day. He rides in on a donkey giving gifts to kids at their homes. In order for the kids to receive a gift, they must recite a poem, or song. The kids set their shoes out for St. Nicholas to leave the presents in. He leaves little trinkets like coins, chocolate, and oranges in the shoes. He often times brings along Farmhand Rupert – a devil-like character that has a stick or a whip to punish the naughty kids.
Visit the different parts of the world to gain a better understanding of how different people interpret the same information. It’s fun to be a part of new traditions and to hear their stories. Christmas is a special time of year for everyone across the globe.