Here’s Why Christmas Across the Globe Is Pretty Awesome
It’s that beautiful time of the year once again when for a few weeks each year, the globe is bathed in a magical glow, people are jollier and even winter manages to feel cosy. Whether celebrating a festival steeped in religion, like Christmas or Hanukkah, or a secular occasion, you have your own selected rituals or customs to make this celebratory season even more special. Some favorite Christmas traditions from different countries are full of festive fun.
Giant Lantern Festival in Philippines
This festival is held annually on the Saturday, which falls right before Christmas in San Fernando, (which also called Philippines’ Christmas Capital) and attracts onlookers from all over Philippines and across the world. Eleven villages participate in this festival and the competition is brutal, all to make the most exquisite lanterns. Earlier lanterns were humble creations, half a meter in diameter, lit by candles and made from Japanese origami paper. Today’s lanterns are made using various materials and could be six meters in size, lightened by electric bulbs sparkling in kaleidoscopic patterns.
Gävle Goat in Sweden
Since 1966, in the center of the Castle Square in Gävle, a 13-metre-tall Yule Goat has been built but now, this Swedish tradition has led to a tradition of people attempting to turn it into ash. Since 1966 the Goat had been burned down only 29 times with the last destruction done in 2016. Should you want to see if the Goat survives this year from 1st December onwards, you can watch its live streamed progress through the Visit Gävle website.
Krampus in Austria
This is not Halloween but a demon, which looks like the beast called Krampus, St. Nicholas’ evil accomplice roams city streets, frightens kids and punishes naughty ones. In Austrian tradition, the children who have been good throughout the year are rewarded by St. Nicholas, while Krampus captures the naughtiest children and kidnaps them in his sack. Every 1stweek of December, the local young men wear their Krampus costumes (particularly on St. Nicholas Day) to frighten the children by clanging bells and chains.
The Yule Lads in Iceland
For 13 nights before Christmas, 13 troll-like, tricksy characters called the Yule Lads emerge to party in Iceland and visit all the children in the country. Each Yuletide night, children lay their shoes by the window while a different Yule Lad visits them, with gifts for nice children and rotten potatoes for naughty ones. Donning traditional Icelandic costume, the Yule Lads look very mischievous, and some of their their names might give you an idea of what trouble they can cause:, Door-Slammer, Bowl-Licker, Sausage-Swiper, Candle-Stealer and Window-Peeper among others. Visiting Iceland this Christmas is worthwhile to watch these Yule Lads!
Saint Nicholaus’ Day in Germany
Not to be misunderstood as Father Christmas, St. Nikolaus rides a donkey at mid-night on 6th December, leaving behind treats like toys, coins, chocolates and oranges in the shoes of all the good children in Germany, especially in Bavaria. He also visits these kids at their home or in school and if they want the present or treat, they must draw a picture recite a poem or even sing a song. Isn’t that sweet! But it is not all rainbows and butterflies as St. Nick brings along Farmhand Rupert who is said to be a devil-like being in dark clothes with loud bells and a grimy beard, carries a stick to punish misbehaving children.
Keep your brooms away in Norway
A very unorthodox Christmas Eve tradition in Norway emerges with people hiding their brooms in a tradition dating back centuries when people believed evil spirits and witches to arise on Christmas Eve, hunting for brooms to use as transportation. To this day, most people store away their brooms in the corner of their homes to prevent them from being taken for midnight rides.
Roller-blading in Caracas, Venezuela
We all love Christmas, but could it be possibly improved by adding roller-blading to the mix? If you think it is, then you must visit Caracas in Venezuela this year. Every Christmas Eve, the residents go to their local church early morning but for inexplicable reasons, their preferred mode of transport is roller skates! This unique and popular tradition ensures that all city roads bar vehicles so that people skate on the roads in safety. The skater-clauses then head back to their homes for a non-traditional Christmas dinner composed of ‘tamales’, a wrap of cornmeal dough stuffed with meat and steamed.
Day of Little Candles in Colombia
The Day of Little Candles announces the start of the Christmas season to all of Colombia. In honor of Virgin Mary and the birth of Christ, people light candles and paper lanterns in their front yards, windows and balconies. The tradition of placing candles has become so popular that entire cities and towns across Colombia use elaborate displays to light up public spaces and homes. The neighborhoods of Quimbaya are a sight for sore eyes as they compete to put up the most impressive arrangements.
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