There is something special about Christmas that unites everyone, but the holiday is different everywhere. Whether decorating all three with cobwebs and apples or preparing Christmas dinner with tamales or panettone, each culture has unique ways of celebrating the holiday.
But why are those traditions significant? They help create a sense of community and allow families to have unforgettable memories. Here are some particular ways that people celebrate Christmas around the world.
10/10 Lighting Candles In Colombia
On the night of December 7, the streets and houses of Colombia are illuminated with thousands of candles in honor of the Virgin Mary. known as the night of the candles (Little Candle’s Day), the holiday marks the start of Christmas celebrations, and some locals hang blue and white flags on their homes.
Each city has its tradition to place the candles: in Medellín people put them along the river and in Barranquilla they place them in the streets.
9/10 KFC is a Christmas tradition in Japan
Japan has its own Christmas traditions, and many people will be surprised that it is Kentucky Fried Chicken. More than 3.6 million families buy their dinner at the fast-food franchise during the holiday, and it’s so famous that people need to order it weeks in advance. The tradition began in the 1970s when KFC launched a campaign selling a bucket of fried chicken and wine.
Christmas cake is also famous during the holidays. known as kurisumasu kekiIt is available in almost all stores.
8/10 Singing Christmas carols in Martinique
Christmas is not just limited to family members in Martinique. known as the the Ribote, The most famous tradition of the French Caribbean island consists of going out and singing Christmas carols with Creole verses.
The celebration is early in the morning and the groups usually visit all the houses in the neighborhood. Of course, food is a big part of the celebration and they bring dishes like puchero, yam, traditional Creole food and pates.
7/10 Celebrations start early in Norway
Christmas is a massive holiday in Norway, and they start celebrating it on December 3rd. During that period, the bars and restaurants are usually full of people celebrating it. The period is called julebordwhich literally means Christmas table.
Families celebrate Little Christmas on December 23, when they come together to decorate the Christmas tree and eat traditional dishes such as hot rice pudding. However, this tradition is fading as families create their own traditions for the day.
In rural areas, people can also leave a portion of rice pudding for the gnome that protects the farm.
6/10 Families share a Christmas wafer in Poland
Before the traditional Christmas dinner, families in Poland share an Oplatek (a Christmas wafer with religious images). Traditionally, the oldest member of the family breaks the first piece and passes it to another relative saying a blessing, wishing love, health and good fortune. The gesture is perceived as a sign of unconditional love and family unity. The ritual resembles the Catholic Holy Communion,
The pets of the house can also add to the tradition, since the animals were the first to greet Christ.
5/10 The lucky almond in Finland
In Finland, people traditionally eat porridge with rice, cinnamon, and milk for breakfast at Christmas. The cook places a single almond in the pot and the person who finds it wins, as it is a sign of good luck. Of course, in a home with many children, families tend to “cheat” and add more almonds to avoid conflicts.
Saunas are a big thing in Finland and are also part of Christmas traditions. In the afternoon, families usually bathe in a sauna on Christmas Eve, which is decorated with lanterns and candles. Many families also gather around the television to watch a rerun of Snowman; a 1982 animation aired year after year.
4/10 Share books in Iceland
Gifts are an important part of the Christmas celebration in many places. People celebrating the holiday in Iceland will likely receive books, and this tradition is called Jolabokaflod (Christmas Book Flood). The gifts are wrapped in special paper, and finding an insect inside the book is considered good luck.
Many spend their afternoons reading their new books or playing cards with the family, while others visit neighbors or attend the traditional Christmas mass.
3/10 The traditional barbecue in New Zealand
December is summer in New Zealand, and you can celebrate on the beach with a picnic or a delicious barbecue with family and friends. Dishes are often cooked in a traditional hangi, which consists of heated rocks buried in a pit oven, called an umu. It is a Maori cooking method, perfect for preparing food for larger groups.
People can expect to eat fish, chicken, vegetables, and sweet potatoes at Christmas. Families take advantage of the time to connect and talk because it takes a few hours to prepare the food.
2/10 The Sinterklaas is the star in the Netherlands
Sinterklaas, a legendary figure based on Saint Nicholas, is the most famous Christmas symbol in the Netherlands. As Santa Claus, he wears red and white clothes and gives gifts to children who are well-behaved and carrots to those who are not.
On December 6, children across the country place their shoes near the fireplace or by the door to receive gifts such as toys, chocolate letters, and cookies. Sinterklaas has some popular assistants known as Zwart Piet, which has raised some protests in recent years, as he is often portrayed by white men in blackface.
1/10 Families create their advent calendar in Switzerland
The Advent Calendar is a popular way of counting down the days to Christmas in many European countries. Although people can buy the calendar, most families prefer to make their advent calendar with cardboard signs and prepare small gifts for each day.
In smaller cities, people tend to have the Advent Party (Advent Windows), a group of 24 houses with windows decorated for the festivity. One window design is revealed per day, and everyone is invited to view it, bringing the community together.