Whether you’re planning your shopping list or London Christmas party venue, to get in you the festive mood, here are some Christmas traditions from around the world.
Six unique Christmas traditions from around the world:
1 – New Zealand – red, white and green – summer style
There are three things Christmas in New Zealand has in common with most of the Northern Hemisphere: red, white and green. However, instead of referring to ‘wintry’ themes like snow, holly and robins, they actually represent the height of summer, with the lush red pohutukawa used as the nation’s Christmas tree. White and green, meanwhile, refer to white sandy beaches and subtropical vegetation. In fact, you can frequently spot Santa sunbathing with sunglasses, or swimming! Christmas barbecues are also common, and the Maori often roast their festive dinners in a pit.
2 – The Yule Lads, Iceland
Few countries have a more fascinating mix of Christmas traditions than Iceland, where celebrations take place from 23rd December until 6th January. One of the main festivities is The Yule Lads, in which 13 men arrive from the mountains to cause mischief in the run up to the big day. At night, from 12th December, the Yule Lads, one by one, leave gifts in the shoes of well-behaved children – while badly behaved children receive a potato!
3 – India – Christmas fruitcakes
Although just under 2.5 percent of the Indian population celebrates Christmas, this still includes about 25 million people – about half the population of England. In the run up to the big day, many Indian Christians put up Christmas trees and decorate them with cotton wool to create a snow effect. Christian families in the Goa region also prepare delicious Christmas fruitcakes, cardamom and cashew macaroons, and sweet ‘newrio’ dumplings with coconut, sesame seeds and palm sugar inside.
4 – Krampus, Austria
One of the most unusual Christmas traditions around the world, Krampus – a monstrous beast that is part demon and part goat, allegedly shows up before Krampus Night on 6th December to scare naughty children. Austria and other neighbouring countries celebrate a modern version of this tradition with ‘Krampuslauf’, where drunk men are dressed as devils and chase people in the streets! Sounds more like Halloween than Christmas!
5 – Ukraine: Srozhdestvom Kristovym
The traditional family Christmas meal in Ukraine consists of twelve courses, which represent the 12 Apostles. The feast, which occurs on Christmas Eve, follows 40 days of fasting and includes anything from deep-fried white fish to bean salads with garlic, accompanied with a glass of uzvar, a drink made with dried fruit.
6 – The Lighting of the National Hanukkah Menorah, Washington, D.C.
30 feet high, the National Menorah has been erected every year in the U.S capital since 1979. The lighting ceremony is held on the Ellipse, opposite the White House, and is broadcast to millions of people across the world, representing the Jewish celebration of Chanukah.
Planning your own Christmas celebration soon?
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