While many countries around the world celebrate Christmas, traditions around it vary immensely across the globe. Not even the day on which it falls is the same! While New Zealand, the USA and many others celebrate Christmas traditionally on the 25th of December, many European countries are already celebrating their Christmas on the 24th. Russia, Turkey and Ethiopia, on the other hand, use the Orthodox calendar and therefore don’t celebrate before the 7th of January. Let’s take a closer look at some of the other interesting Christmas traditions from around the world.
With more than 70% of the population being Christian, Christmas is an important holiday in Venezuela and the people have developed a very unique way to celebrate it! Every year between the 16th and the 24th of December several roads are closed to traffic in the capital Caracas which allows the Venezuelans to use roller skates to make their way to the early morning Christmas mass. The night before children tie long pieces of string to their big toes and dangle them out of the window. Every roller skater is supposed to tug them when they pass the string. Sounds like they are having a lot of fun!
In Spain and many other Latin American countries, it is custom to wear read underwear during the festive season. The colour is considered to be auspicious and wearing red is supposed to bring luck for the new year. In Catalonia they have another interesting tradition: people make so-called Caga Tios, which is a little log with legs, a happy face and a red beanie. In the two weeks before Christmas, this log must be fed with sweets and nuts. On Christmas Eve, families put them by the fire and beat them softly with a stick until they have pooped out all the goodies. The last thing to come out is normally a garlic bulb, onion or maybe even a salt herring. During the beating, families will often sing a song similar to this to encourage the log: “Poo log, poo nougat, hazelnuts and cottage cheese, if you don’t poo well, I’ll hit you with a stick, poo log!”
Only 2-3% of Japanese are Christian which is why the holiday doesn’t have such an importance for this culture. A big US-American fast-food chain, specialising in fried chicken, took this as a chance to implement a rather strange Christmas tradition. Thanks to a successful advertising campaign it has now become customary for the Japanese to tuck into a festive feast of KFC on Christmas Day. The tradition has now become so popular that orders for the KFC Christmas Party Barrel are taken as early as October.
Christmas time in the African country starts at the beginning of December right after the end of the cacao harvest. Families decorate their houses with lights, candles and ornaments. Christmas trees, which are usually Mango, Guava or Cashew trees, are placed on the main squares and on Christmas eve, people hold a proper feast before they go to church followed by a colourful parade.
Sweden's many different Christmas traditions have inspired other countries all over the world. The first important day of the festive season is St. Lucy’s Day, on the 13th of December, which celebrates the introduction of Christianity into Sweden as well as the shortest day of the year. On Christmas day, which is the 24th in the Scandinavian country, people have a cold lunch buffet known as the ‘julbord’. Apart from the food, there is another very important Swedish Christmas tradition: watching Donald Duck! Since the 1950s the national broadcast station has aired the Disney special “From all of us to all of you” in Swedish and still today, 40-50% of the Swedish population tune in to watch it. Another quite unique Christmas tradition can be found in the city of Gävle, where every year a 13m tall straw goat is built for the start of Advent. It takes two days to put up the animal which has a large metal structure on the inside and is covered with straw. The tradition started in 1966 and the first Gävle Yule Goat was burnt down on New Year's Eve 1966. Ever since then it's been the target for vandals: in its 50-year history, it has only survived throughout the Christmas and New Year period about 12 times! In 2016, its 50th year, it was burnt down in less than two days.
No matter if, where and how you celebrate Christmas this year, the team at Harris Mountains Heli-Ski wishes everyone a great holiday!