Christmas Traditions Around The World
We may all tend to think that our friends around the world celebrate Christmas in a similar way to us but nothing could be further from the truth… Here are some of the more colourful Christmas traditions from around the globe:
In Japan Christmas is traditionally celebrated more on Christmas Eve than Christmas Day, and although only one percent of Japanese are Christian, it’s celebrated across the country as a gift-giving day.
Due to a shrewd marketing campaign by KFC in 1974, Japanese people tend to associate Christmas with the fast food chain and pre-order special Christmas chicken buckets to take home for the family. On this day you can see lines of people waiting to pick up their “Christmas Barrels.”
Young Japanese couples see Christmas Eve as the most romantic night of the year and, for this reason, any restaurant you go to will likely be fully-booked that night.
In Austria Santa Claus has an evil accomplice – a demon-like creature known as Krampus – who punishes naughty children. During the Christmas period, people dressed as Krampus can be seen on the streets.
In Caracas, the capital of Venezuela, it’s traditional to travel to early-morning Mass church services during the Christmas period. There isn’t anything particularly unusual about that, except the congregation travel there on roller-skates! Roads are even specially cleared for the purpose!
In the Ukraine it’s traditional to hand an artificial spider and web on the Christmas tree as well as Christmas lights, tinsel and decorations and the custom is supposed to bring good luck.
The origin of this custom is the legend of an old woman who was so poor she couldn’t afford to decorate her Christmas tree. On Christmas morning she awoke to find a spider had woven a sparkling web over her tree and the tradition has continued from there…
What do you and your family usually do on Christmas Eve? If you lived in Estonia you’d probably join your family and go and visit the sauna on both Christmas and New Year’s Eves!
In some parts of the Welsh countryside, each Christmas villagers select someone to perform the Mari Lwyd – a ritual dating back to around 1800 where a villager is covered with white sheets and parades around the streets carrying a horse’s skull decorated with ribbons and fixed to the end of a pole!
Accompanied by a small group of friends, the central figure visits houses around the village and request entry through the medium of song. The people inside the house refuse (again through song) and this continues until the group give up and leave or are allowed in and are presented with food and drink.