Christmas is one of the best days of the year. In fact, I personally consider it the best day of the year. With food teeming and gifts overflowing, you enjoy the whole day in the company of the people you love, sharing stories, drinking beer and just having fun.
We all have our own Christmas celebrations to tell. Some are pretty normal, and some go beyond what is ordinary. Some follow traditions and others experiment every single year. Somewhere, some groups of people are celebrating Christmas differently than we do. We may find them queer but it’s how they roll and have fun.
True enough, as I’ve peeked at the world’s Christmas celebrations, I felt a different experience each place I looked into. It’s a whole new perspective on how to have fun. For that, I leave you these following countries that I have found great interest.
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Santa is absolutely the best good guy you could ever think of. But he has an evil counterpart, yes that’s true. Even Santa gets a nemesis; he’s called Krampus. This Krampus guy looks like a demon and punishes naughty children before Christmas.
Photo from the Guardian
What’s interesting about this tradition is not the tangible product that it boasts but how people came up with it. In Britain, family members take turns in stirring the pudding mix clockwise while making a wish. Some even put coins for good luck, and others, rings or thimbles.
Photo from Vanilla and Lace
In the northern region of the country, people partake in a Taffy Pull, in honor of Saint Catherine – patron saint of single women. Taffy is a candy which is very similar to toffee. Taffy is made by stretching or pulling a mass of boiled sugar, butter and oil mixed with flavors and coloring util it becomes light, fluffy and chewy. In this tradition, single men and women will be paired off and the organizers will heat molasses and pour in a think steam bank. This will result to the hardening of the taffy, making it very difficult to pull. This difficulty is projected to arrive with the couple getting to know one another. The taffy pull is for single women out there, this is the perfect chance to meet the man of your dreams.
Photo from Power House Museum
Despite the low percentage of Christians in China, Christmas still is considered to be a day of joy. In major cities, Christmas trees, lights and other ornaments are placed and people await for ‘Shen Dan Lao Ren’ (which we commonly know as Santa Claus).
On Christmas Eve, people give apples wrapped in colored paper. People do this because the pronunciation of ‘Ping An Ye’ (Christmas Eve) sounds like ‘Ping Guo’ (which means apple in Chinese).
Photo from MSN
In Czech Republic, single women perform a ritual to determine if they’ll marry in the following year. On Christmas Eve, a woman throws one of their shoes towards the door. If the shoe lands and the heel points the direction of the door, the said woman shall not marry next year. If it lands otherwise, she should immediately make the wedding preparations.
Photo from tyrol
In Finland, having a sauna isn’t that difficult to do. Why did I say that? Well, because most Finnish families have their own saunas. I repeat, their own sauna. They believe that an elf lives there and makes sure that members of the family act accordingly. And when Christmas Eve comes, people would go their sauna, and enjoy a good time.
Photo from Stellar Four
If we had a yule goat in Sweden, we also have a yule cat in Iceland. This cat is depicted to be very scary and eats lazy children. (My goodness, I might be eaten!) How will you avoid being the Christmas dinner of a hungry Christmas cat? Well, finish your work and get new clothes before the calendar hits December 25.
Photo from CRISTINA
Instead of Santa Claus, gifts are delivered by a witch! Called La Befana, this witch arrives on Christmas or Epiphany, bringing traditional holiday gifts. She gives fruits and candies for the nice kids and coal and garlic for the naughty ones. People leave wine for her to drink before she goes, and if you’re nice enough, she will sweep your floor with her broomstick!
Iraqi Christians celebrate the Christmas day through a great bonfire made of dried thorns and twigs outside their houses. The thing here is that you should really burn the thorns because it will imply good fortune. You can also make wishes whenever the fire is reduced to ashes.
Photo from Australian Times
Kentucky Fried Chicken is the most famous Christmas dinner in Japan. The demands for these delicious chicken spike up to the point that you need to reserve your chicken 2 months ahead!
Photo from Wikipedia
In Oaxaca, Noche de los Rabanos is celebrated during December 23. At this day, radishes rule the earth as they are formed and designed to portray nativity scenes, historical figures, famous people and more.
Photo from Ixigo.com
Brooms during Christmas Eve? No way in Norway. This is because of a very old and popular belief where witches came out of the Eve of December 25 to look for broomsticks to ride on. So, what people do is that they hide them really well. So, during Christmas Eve, expect brooms to be missing or lost.
Photo from Image Shack
Having the longest Christmas in the world that starts in September, the Philippines have a multitude of traditions including the Misa de Gallo (Dawn Mass), Caroling, Monito Monita (Secret Santa) and more!
The country is also famous for its parols, which are lanterns that have Christmas motifs.
Photo from Wiki How
In Russia, Christmas is celebrated on January 7th instead of December 25. This is because the Orthodox Church, where most Russians pay worship, still uses the old Julian Calendar for their religious celebrations.
Photo from myerchin.org
Early on Christmas Eve, the head of the Slovakian family gets a spoonful of Loksa, a dish made out of bread, poppy seed filling and water, and throws it on the ceiling. The more it remains in the ceiling, the richer the crops will be.
Photo from Telegraph
People hide Caganers (famous people portrayed defecating) under their Christmas Nativity scenes and asks their friends to find them. Dating way back to the 18th century, this tradition has become a symbol of fertilization, hope and prosperity for the years to come.
Photo from Red Ice Creations
A giant goat made of straw is built at the start of the holiday season. People will do everything just to set this gigantic goat on fire before Christmas Day. Some dress as Santa Claus and others as elves just so they could get passed the guards and ablaze the goat. Poor goat.
Photo from Kwintesessential
Christmas trees are decorated with real spiders and spider webs. According to tradition, this will give the home good luck.
Photo from fest300
For Santa Claus enthusiasts, here’s the Comi-con counterpart of your hobby: SantaCon! SantaCon is a gathering of New Yorkers dressed as Christmas characters. During this day, you see a lot of Santas, elves, snowmen and people just having a great time!
Photo from Hotel Club
In Caracas, the government closes the roads for cars, allowing people to skate together to hear the Christmas Day mass.
Wherever we may go, whatever we may believe (or not believe) in, whoever we are, we will still find a way to celebrate this world-wide holiday. We may do it traditionally, or follow our hearts, but what’s important is, on Christmas, we are with the ones we love and we are happy.
How Christmas is Celebrated Around the Globe Infographic
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