While most traditions at Christmas centre around watching holiday movies and eating ourselves into a coma- other traditions around the world are worth noting.
From roller skating to mass to getting naked in the sauna with your nearest and dearest, let’s look at traditions from around the world.
The People of Venezuela strap on roller skates and glide to Christmas Mass…As legend has it, Children go to bed with a piece of string tied around their toe and the other end dangling out the window! As skaters roll past, they give the string a tug and children know that it’s time to, well, get their skates on. Venezuelans are known for their love of fireworks and Christmas is no exception – residents awake to the sound of firecrackers exploding in the street, adding to the peel of church bells. Skating to mass became so popular that the government took to closing streets until 8 am so that families could skate together in safety.
Japan’s KFC for Christmas Dinner!
Back in 1974, the fast-food giant KFC released a festive marketing campaign in Japan with a simple slogan ‘Kurisumasu ni wa kentakkii!’ (Kentucky for Christmas) and, well, whoever came up with that needs a raise. It’s remained a tradition ever since, even though Christmas isn’t actually a national holiday in Japan. Families from all over the country still head to their local KFC for a special Christmas Eve meal.
Christmas in Finland: Have A Festive Sauna with your dead ancestors…
In Finland, the sauna is often a place to invite colleagues or new acquaintances as a sign of respect, and at Christmas time, this hot spot becomes a sacred space associated with long-dead ancestors. On Christmas Eve, it’s customary to strip and do a stint in the sauna, which is also believed to be home to the legendary sauna ‘elf’. After the sauna session, Finns head out to the evening celebrations – while spirits of those ancestors take their place in the bubbling water.
In Germany, They Hide A Pickle!
Hiding a pickle in the tree to find is a tradition that’s thought to come from an old tale involving St Nicholas, where two young boys were held as prisoners inside a pickle barrel. The heroic Saint Nicholas rescued the boys and brought them back to life. Hidden among the branches, it is thought that the first person to find the pickle gets an extra gift!
In Ukraine, they swap Christmas lights for Spiderwebs
Spiders and webs are believed to bring good luck in Ukrainian culture, but this particular custom goes back to a folktale about a poor widow who could not afford to decorate a tree for her children. Legend has it that spiders in the house took pity on the family, and spun beautiful webs all over the tree, which the children awoke to find on Christmas morning.