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Whether or not you are Christian, or even believe in God, the Christmas season is one that many people around the world celebrate in one way or another. But because traditions and ideas of Christmas vary so much, I thought it might be fun to check out what different countries around the world do for the holiday! If you love traveling during the holidays and are looking for a hygge vacation that’s perfect for cozying up by the fire, check out my post of top hygge destinations.
France is widely known for its food and delicacies. People in the Provence region even go so far as to serve a sumptuous feast of seven main courses and 13 desserts at Christmas! Among the most popular festive dishes are: Fougasse (pancakes), nougat with honey and pistachios, pumpkin pie and dried fruits.
In Italy many children get two sets of gifts – one on the 24th of December and a larger gift on the 6th of January. On this day, Italians celebrate Epiphany Day and according to popular belief, a witch called La Befana arrives in the night to fill good children’s stockings with sweets, while naughty ones get chunks of black coal.
In Japan, Christmas is considered the “Festival of Love”. It is not uncommon to see couples spending a romantic evening together, while singles will be out partying and looking for the love of their life.
People in Britain have Christmas crackers. They look like giant Tootsie rolls that make a bang when pulled apart. They come with a paper crown, joke, or little gift inside. Fun fact, when I first read Harry Potter and it mentioned Christmas Crackers with a joke inside I pictured some saltines…
On Christmas Eve more than half of Sweden watches a Disney Christmas special on TV. It is one of the most popular tv programs ever.
As you probably know, Americans love decorating their houses for Christmas with lights, blow up décor, and festive signs. Apparently we spend $6 billion on decorations every year.
Only 1% of the population celebrates Christmas even though the majority of the world’s decorations are made there.
Because it’s summer in Brazil during Christmas Santa wears a lighter suit and delivers presents using a ladder or trampoline.
People in Spain love to play the Christmas lottery, usually because the jackpot is one of the largest in the world. The winning numbers are sung by orphans on national TV.
Australians celebrate Christmas at the beach with family to barbeque.
Germans visit their neighbors and friends before Christmas to have a look at their Christmas tree. During their rounds they drink Schnaps.
The Giant Lantern Festival (Ligligan Parul Sampernandu) is held each year on the Saturday before Christmas Eve in the city of San Fernando – the “Christmas Capital of the Philippines.” The festival attracts spectators from all over the country and across the globe. Eleven barangays (villages) take part in the festival and competition is fierce as everyone pitches in trying to build the most elaborate lantern. Originally, the lanterns were simple creations around half a meter in diameter, made from ‘papel de hapon’ (Japanese origami paper) and lit by candle. Today, the lanterns are made from a variety of materials and have grown to around six meters in size. They are illuminated by electric bulbs that sparkle in a kaleidoscope of patterns.
A beast-like demon creature that roams city streets frightening kids and punishing the bad ones – nope, this isn’t Halloween, but St. Nicholas’ evil accomplice, Krampus. In Austrian tradition, St. Nicholas rewards nice little boys and girls, while Krampus is said to capture the naughtiest children and whisk them away in his sack. In the first week of December, young men dress up as the Krampus (especially on the eve of St. Nicholas Day) frightening children with clattering chains and bells.
Perhaps one of the most unorthodox Christmas Eve traditions can be found in Norway, where people hide their brooms. It’s a tradition that dates back centuries to when people believed that witches and evil spirits came out on Christmas Eve looking for brooms to ride on. To this day, many people still hide their brooms in the safest place in the house to stop them from being stolen.
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