7 Christmas Traditions Around The World that may Surprise You

There are so many Christmas traditions: trimming your Christmas tree, baking Christmas cookies, and opening presents, to name a few. But what are Christmas traditions around the world like? You''ll soon find that many countries celebrate the holiday differently than usual.

Would you like rotten potatoes left in your shoes on Christmas morning? How about Kentucky Fried Chicken for your Christmas dinner? Believe it or not, both of those are actual Christmas traditions around the world. From Christmas by the beach in New Zealand that features fresh seafood, to hot porridge that keeps families warm during the cold Finland winter, you''ll discover just how different these global holiday traditions are.

Although you may find that some Yuletide rituals remain the same, like singing carols, decorating a Christmas tree, making advent calendars, and feasting on a lot of ham, we think the following Christmas traditions around the world may surprise you.


Every year, the city of San Fernando holds Ligligan Parul (or Giant Lantern Festival), that features dazzling parols (lanterns) that symbolize the Star of Bethlehem. Each parol consists of thousands of spinning lights that illuminate the night sky. The festival has made San Fernando the "Christmas Capital of the Philippines."


Originally, the lanterns were simple creations around half a meter in diameter, made from ‘papel de hapon’ (Japanese origami paper) and lit by candles. 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.


The Yule Goat has been a Swedish Christmas symbol that dates back to ancient Pagan festivals. However, in 1966, the tradition got a whole new life after someone came up with the idea to make a giant straw goat now referred to as the Gävle Goat.

According to the official website, the goat is over 42 feet high, 23 feet wide and weighs 3.6 tons. Each year, the massive goat is constructed in the same spot. Fans can even watch a livestream from the first Sunday of Advent until after the New Year when it''s taken down.


Although Christmas isn''t a national holiday in Japan (an estimated one percent of the population is Christian, according to Smithsonian Magazine), its citizens still find an interesting and delicious way to celebrate. Rather than gathering around the table for a turkey dinner, families head out to their local Kentucky Fried Chicken.

The tradition began in 1974 after a wildly successful marketing campaign called, "Kurisumasu ni wa kentakkii!" or "Kentucky for Christmas!" The fast-food chain has maintained its Yuletide popularity—forcing some people to order their boxes up to months in advance or stand on two-hour-long lines to get their "finger lickin'' good" food.


In the 13 days leading up to Christmas, it is believed that 13 tricksy troll-like characters come out to play in Iceland. The Yule Lads (jólasveinarnir or jólasveinar in Icelandic) visit the children across the country over the 13 nights leading up to Christmas. For each night of Yuletide, children place their best shoes by the window and a different Yule Lad visits leaving gifts for nice girls and boys and rotting potatoes for the naughty ones.


On Christmas morning, Finish families traditionally eat a porridge made of rice and milk topped with cinnamon, milk, or butter. Whoever finds the almond placed inside one of the puddings "wins"—but some families cheat and hide a few almonds so the kids don''t get upset. At the end of the day, it is customary to warm up in a sauna together.


Because Kiwis celebrate Christmas during their summer, a number of their traditions center around where families and friends gather for a casual cookout of fresh seafood, meat, and seasonal vegetables. The New Zealand Christmas tree is the Pohutukawa, a coastal species that blooms a bright-red color in December, providing shade during the sunny days as they sing carols in both English and Maori.


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.

No matter how you’re celebrating, make sure you have your own selection of rituals or customs that make this holiday season so special. After all, Christmas traditions around the world are loud, proud, and guarantee oodles of festive fun. It’s all back to its root, the season of giving.

This is the special time of year  when hearts and bellies are at their fullest  is closer than you think. So, don’t miss the most important list-to-do, your gifting and feasting planning. From jam-packed hampers to celebratory tipples and glorious gifts, there’s still time, find your very merriest Christmas with Harper and Cordon.

Whichever Christmas traditions around the world, we think they all are wonderful in their own way – and are guaranteed to put you in the festive spirit. Wishing you peace, joy, and all the best this wonderful holiday has to offer. May this incredible time of giving and spending time with family bring you the joy that lasts throughout the year.

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