Christmas is celebrated globally not just among Christians, but by people of other religions too. Over the years, it has become a secular festival that everyone joins in to celebrate. The festival is celebrated in different ways across the world.
There are different traditions associated with Christmas celebrations in different countries. In this guide, we look at how Christmas is celebrated across the world. You can also get to know about different traditions worldwide related to Christmas.
Christmas across the world
In the Philippines, Christmas celebrations include the Giant Lantern Festival. This festival is held in San Fernando on the Saturday before Christmas. The festival involves people competing with each other to build large and colorful lanterns. While earlier, the lanterns were simple paper creations; today they are up to 6 meters large. The lanterns represent the Star of Bethlehem. The spinning lights on the lantern are a sight worth seeing.
The Finnish people have a unique way to celebrate Christmas. They do it by eating porridge in the morning. Families get together and eat a special porridge made from rice and milk. A tradition is to place one almond in the porridge. Whoever finds it is the winner of the day. Families also go to a sauna on the day. At the end of the day, they have dinner and exchange presents. Some families go to the cemeteries to light candles for their loved ones who have departed.
The Austrians have a unique way of celebrating Christmas by bringing in the devil. Yes! There is a devil on the streets during the St. Nicholas festivities. The devil is named Krampus and is part of the festivities. The tradition is that good boys and girls are rewarded by St. Nicholas, whereas the naughty ones are taken away by Krampus. To mark this tradition, men dress up as the devil with clanging bells and chains to scare naughty kids.
A surprising fact about Christmas celebrations in Japan is its link with KFC or Kentucky Fried Chicken. The tradition goes back to 1974 when KFC started a marketing campaign ‘Kentucky for Christmas’. The campaign became so successful that people started to visit KFC for lunch, instead of having a traditional feast at home. This has now become a tradition and people queue up for hours to have their food at KFC on Christmas day.
In Iceland, there is a tradition of Yule lads or c coming out on the days prior to Christmas. These Yule lads are troll-like characters that come out to visit people. These Yule lads have unique names like Sheep-Cote Clod, Spoon-Licker, Sausage-Swiper, Meat-Hook, etc. Children in every house leave their shoes near the window at night. If they have been good during the year, they receive attractive gifts. If they have been bad or naughty, they got rotten potatoes. This is a fun tradition celebrated during the festive season.
For the rest of the world, Christmas is during winter. But in New Zealand, Christmas is during summer. Families get together to enjoy the festivities for Christmas. They bring out their grill and have barbequed food to enjoy the day. Since the days are hot, the Christmas tree in New Zealand is different. The Pohutukawa tree is put up since it provides shade. Carols are sung in Maori and English to mark the festivities.
In Germany, during the Christmas season, people celebrate St. Nikolaus Day on December 6th. The good saint travels at midnight on his donkey and visits the home of people. This tradition is done especially in Bavaria. Children are given sweets and in return, they need to sing a song, recite a poem, or do some other such activity. Knecht Ruprecht also tags along with Nikolaus. He is a devil who punishes the naughty children.
In Sweden, an interesting tradition that started in the 1960s is that of Gavle Goat. This is a goat built 13 meters tall. A website has been started called Visit Gavle. The website live streams visuals of the goat across the world. People flock to see the goat. Another tradition that has come up is of people burning the goat. The goat has been burnt down 29 times since 1966.
A strange Christmas tradition in Norway is hiding brooms. People hide their brooms in the belief that evil spirits would come to steal them and fly away. This tradition is followed even today even as people celebrate the occasion.
Hope you enjoyed reading about these unique and wonderful Christmas traditions around the world!