Holiday Traditions Around the World

Callie Osburn, MVC Writer

Merry Christmas, Feliz Navidad, or maybe even God Jul. As it’s getting colder, most people in the world celebrate some sort of winter holiday. With holidays come traditions of all sorts. 

 For some people, it is just traditions, but for others, it is an entirely different way to celebrate the winter holiday.  People in France, America, Italy, and Spain, for example, celebrate the winter holidays in different ways. It is important to learn about the traditions and the celebrations of people all around the world. 

Although Christmas is not recognized as a national holiday in Japan, many residents will order a bucket of KFC as their “Christmas tradition.” This tradition was started because of a campaign by KFC

Another food tradition from South Africa is eating fried bugs, a historic tradition. This tradition is so popular that cookbooks exist with information on how to season, cook and plate bugs in local bookstores in South Africa. More about South African bug-eating traditions can be found here.

In Ukraine, a tree covered in spider webs provides good luck. This tradition was started by a folktale that led to putting tinsel on the tree. The tinsel tradition took over because it’s more sanitary. Read the original folktale here

In Norway, on Christmas night, they lock up all their cleaning supplies so witches do not find them and steal their brooms. Also, in Norway, it is very common to put shoes by the fire to receive little gifts, almost like a Christmas stocking.

In Sweden, they tell tales of the yule goat; an invisible spirit that appears before Christmas to make sure that the holiday preparations are done correctly. Sweden also creates a giant display out of straw. 

Some people from Germany have a tradition of putting pickles on their Christmas trees. The tale of the pickle says that the first person to find the pickle hidden within the other ornaments would receive an extra gift from Santa or good luck all year. 

Some common foods people might see on Christmas day could be a Christmas pudding from Canada, a Dundee cake from Scotland, or maybe a tamale from Mexico.

People may be very familiar with the warm character Father Winter, but how many people know he has a polar opposite called Krampus? Krampus, from Central and Eastern Alpine folklore, come and steals bad kids instead of leaving them gifts around the winter time.

Different religions have their own special holidays during this time including: Diwali, Hanukkah, the winter solstice, Kwanzaa, and the Chinese New Year to name a few.

It is so important to recognize that not just Christmas is celebrated during the month of December. So when someone says Merry Christmas to someone else, they may not realize they are dismissing their religion or traditions.