Christmas Traditions from Around the World
One of the things I love about STEAM Powered Family is that this an inclusive and global site. We celebrate the diversity of children, education and teachers around the world. Just as we do throughout the year, we also want to celebrate the cultures, festivities and traditions from around the world during the holiday season. Learning together we can create something truly special during the holidays, and throughout the year. Check out these brilliant Christmas Traditions from around the world.
Family Holiday Traditions Around the World
Plus ideas to start your own new holiday traditions!
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This year in particular, many families are looking for innovative and new ways to make the holidays joyful and special. Even though we may not be able to travel, and may not be able to have our usual celebrations, it doesn’t mean we can’t make the holidays special this year. And I feel one of the greatest ways to do that is to see what our friends around the world are doing to celebrate the holidays.
There is something truly magical about this time of year, but did you know, it is celebrated differently depending on where you are in the world? There are different traditions, food, and rituals, and if you ever decided to spend Christmas abroad, you might be surprised at how different it can be elsewhere!
If you’ve ever wondered how people from other corners of the world celebrate the Holidays around the Winter Solstice, here are some of the most interesting Christmas traditions from all over the world!
Christmas Traditions From Around The World
The Yule Lads, Iceland
In Iceland, children begin celebrating Yule (Christmas) thirteen nights before the date. Every night, kids leave their shoes by their windows so that thirteen Yule Lads (mischievous troll like creatures), can stuff them up with candy and treats. If they’ve been good throughout the year, that is. If they haven’t? The Yule Lads will sneak rotten potatoes into their shoes. Suddenly, getting coal from Santa doesn’t sound so bad!
Maybe this year as a new tradition have candy scavenger hunts!
Kentucky Fried Chicken Dinner, Japan
As far as unusual Christmas traditions go, Japan probably takes the cake. Christmas isn’t huge in Japan, but it became a thing back in the seventies when the manager of Kentucky Fried Chicken overheard a group of ex-pats discussing how much they missed eating turkey for Christmas back home.
One thing lead to another, and so, the KFC manager thought fried chicken would be a great replacement for turkey. A marketing plan was born and ever since, millions of Japanese families celebrate the date by visiting KFC for dinner.
Remember, it isn’t about what food is on your table but the spirit we bring into these holidays.
Iceland has another tradition that made our list! Jolabokaflod is probably one of the most beautiful Christmas traditions out there. Families gift each other books during Christmas Eve and everyone spends the rest of the evening reading by the fire with a cup of hot cocoa and a brand new book.
As book lovers, I think this is one tradition we should all adopt! Why not plan a special book exchange for the holidays?
Hide Your Brooms, Norway
Norwegians hide their brooms during Christmas Eve.
The story has it that back in the day, evil spirits and witches would sneak into people’s homes on Christmas night in search of new brooms to steal so they could go for joy rides! People would hide their brooms in the safest spot in the house to prevent a robbery – a tradition that is still very much alive to date!
This Christmas, why not make a homemade broom!
Little Candle’s Day, Colombia
Even though it doesn’t snow in Colombia during Christmas, the entire country turns into a winter wonderland of lights. Dia de las Velitas means Little Candles Day, and to celebrate the occasion, people from all over the country light candles and lanterns outside their homes in gorgeous displays.
Celebrate with your own special candle night. Turn off all the lights and enjoy the gorgeous warmth of candles. You can try making your own candles out of beeswax or even out of crayons. Or make Ice Lanterns with your kids.
Christmas takes a bit of a darker, almost Halloween-like, twist in Austria with Krampus, a beast-like demon that roams the streets looking for children who have been naughty.
Legend has it that St. Nicholas and Krampus were accomplices. Together they would travel around, and if you’ve been good, St. Nicholas brings gifts, but if you’ve been naughty, Krampus will come looking for you and whisk you away in his sack!
Every year, during the first week of December, especially on the eve of St. Nicholas Day (which is on December 6), people dress up as Krampus and have parades through the streets.
This year, why not dress up and go for a walk! Make your own little Christmas parade of fun, joy and celebration.
Yule Pomanders, British Isles
Dating back to the 13th century there are references to the Pomander. These fragrant treats are made from oranges studded with cloves. There were used to represent wealth and status and when gifted were considered a blessing that would bring health and prosperity.
The best part of pomanders is that they smell AMAZING and can easily be made by everyone in the family.
Why not make Yule Pomanders with your family this year and experience the incredible, holiday scents in your home. Learn how to make Yule Pomanders here.
Peace Apples, China
Even though Christmas isn’t huge in China, many Chinese people do honor it by gifting each other apple gift baskets. They’ll usually come wrapped up in colorful paper accompanied by a thoughtful Christmas message for the receiver.
The tradition is pretty new, and most people believe it started because the word Christmas Eve in Chinese sounds pretty similar to Ping Guo, which means apple!
For the holidays make special gifts for someone special or even a charity in need. This can also be the chance to learn a new skill, like maybe making bath bombs for those you care about as a special gift.
Giant Lantern Festival, Philippines
Every year in the Philippines they hold a Giant Lantern Festival called Ligligan Parul Sampernandu on the Saturday before Christmas Eve. It takes place in the city of San Fernando – the “Christmas Capital of the Philippines.” Many villages come together and compete with elaborate lantern designs. Originally, the lanterns were simple creations around half a metre in diameter, made from ‘papel de hapon’ (Japanese origami paper) and lit with candles. Today, the lanterns are made from a variety of materials and have grown to around six metres in size with elaborate and stunning displays.
Why not try your hand at origami for the holidays.
Advent Calendars, Switzerland
In Switzerland they make their own Advent calendars. Usually placed in lunch bags. labeled with the day. Each year these are created as either a surprise for the kids, or the family works together to create the advent bags. Many families get very creative with what is included in the bags.
Why not work together as a family and make your own family advent calendars. Make them special and unique, perfect for those you love!
This year our holidays are going to look different for many of us. Focus on the blessings and the joy that can come from this season. Find ways to connect as a family and with those you love, even if it is virtually.
These are just a few of the amazing traditions from around the world. Use them as inspiration to bring joy and happiness to your holidays this year.
Wishing you a wonderful holiday season no matter how you celebrate!