Christmas is one of the most anticipated holidays of the year, no matter which part of the world you live in. It’s a time of family, gathering with friends, festivals, and traditions. Canadians celebrate the season with cold temperatures and fluffy white snow, while those in warmer countries celebrate with sunshine and palm trees. Whatever the temperature, wherever we are, Christmas is made up of traditions passed down from generation to generation.
In Canada, Christmas is celebrated with traditions such as decorating the Christmas tree, opening the pages of an advent calendar, a golden turkey on the table, unwrapping gifts, building gingerbread houses, baking Christmas cookies, and visiting Santa at the mall.
Various seasonal rituals are the same in many cultures, such as advent calendars, Christmas carols, and decorating a tree. However, you may be surprised to learn of some of the unique and perhaps shocking Christmas traditions which other countries around the world celebrate!
Christmas in Japan
There are no hours of prepping and cooking a turkey in Japan! The colonel takes care of the cooking for you!. In 1974 the tradition of Kentucky Fried Chicken for Christmas started, with civilians lining up for as long as 2 hours to get their Christmas dinner. The ones who prefer to spend their holiday other than standing order their boxes of the finger-licking chicken months in advance!
Christmas in Norway
A rather unorthodox tradition, Norwegians find the safest place in the house to hide their brooms on Christmas Eve. This stems from centuries-long ago when Norwegians believed that witches would come out on Christmas Eve and steal brooms to ride. That means tidy eating as crumbs on the floor would have to wait till Christmas to be swept up!
Christmas in Venezuela
Christmas morning brings a flood of church-attending civilians flooding the streets on their way to Christmas mass. Not by foot, nor by car, but on rollerskates! The established tradition now has streets blocked off from traffic in the city of Caracas for these happy rollerskaters!
Christmas Tree Ornaments around the world
While Canadians tend to adorn their trees with a colour schemed display of dazzling lights and bright ornaments, Germans have the tradition of hanging a pickle in their tree. That’s right. A pickle. And whoever spots the pickle gets a special gift from Saint Nicholas himself!
In Ukraine, you would think that Halloween wasn’t over yet with the spooky cobweb ornaments hanging on the tree branches. The Legend of the Christmas Spider tells the story of a poor family’s fortune that was changed when spiders took pity and turned webs into silver and gold. And so to this day silver and gold spider cobweb ornaments hang from the branches of Ukraine Christmas trees as a reference to good luck.
Stockings around the world
Stockings in Canada are filled with stocking stuffers as we call them. Small things like candy and chocolate, little trinkets, and maybe some necessities like a new toothbrush and a pair of socks build up the excitement towards opening the wrapped boxes under the tree.
In the Netherlands, children place wooden shoes by the chimney or door in hopes that when they wake they are filled with gingerbread men, oranges, and a chocolate letter. A lump of coal sits in the wooden shoe if Sinterklaas (Saint Nicholas) thinks you have been naughty!
Iceland children also put their shoes by the window for the 13 nights leading up to Christmas in hopes of receiving candy. But beware of the 13 Yule Lads (trolls). If they think you have been naughty, they will fill your shoes with rotten potatoes!
Now that you have a taste of Christmas around the world, enjoy your turkey and the fact that the potatoes will be in a dish on the table and not found in your shoes on Christmas morning!
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