It’s the most wonderful time of the year across the globe. People from all over the world celebrate a Christmas tradition that you may not have ever heard of. For several weeks, people’s spirits seem to lift and fill the air with joy and laughter as a result of a tradition. As you read on, you will discover many Christmas traditions as well as Christmas fun facts you may not be aware of. So, let’s get started …
Philippines Giant Lantern Festival
This Christmas tradition is held every year on the Saturday before Christmas Eve in San Fernando. San Fernando is known as the “Christmas Capital of the Philippines.” Eleven villages participate and they all compete to see who can build the most elaborate lantern. Years ago, this traditional competition was pretty simple. Lanterns were small — about a meter in size — and were made from Japanese origami paper. Lanterns were then lit to show their beauty. Today, the competition is fierce. Lanterns are as big as six meters and made from a variety of materials. They also illuminate the lanterns with light bulbs that have kaleidoscope patterns, rather than a simple candle.
Kentucky Fried Chicken Dinner in Japan
Yes, that’s right, KFC for your Christmas Eve or Day feast! Japan has a relatively new Christmas tradition where the Colonel’s Kentucky Fried Chicken is the main course on Christmas Eve or Day. Families and friends gather around the table and enjoy some good-old chicken. It has become so popular that KFC will advertise a special menu soon on the company’s Japanese website. The menu will focus on Christmas-themed standard bucket as well as a premium roast bucket.
Germany’s Saint Nicholas’ Day
Don’t be confused, this is not Father Christmas, however this is Saint Nicholas. He travels by donkey on December 6 and leaves special treats inside the shoes of good boys and girls. Treats include things such as coins, toys, fruit, and of course, chocolate. In the Bavarian region of Germany, Saint Nicholas will also visit schools. He will give each child a small gift or sweet treat if they read a poem or sing a song to him; they can also draw a picture and present it to him if they prefer. During his visits, he likes to keep an eye on those children who misbehave. Saint Nicholas always brings Farmhand Rupert, the devil character dressed in dark clothes and covered in bells. He looks very dirty and will carry a stick or whip. This character is just a reminder to the children to behave …
The Cavalcade of Lights in Toronto, Canada
The Cavalcade of Lights is a Christmas tradition that took place for the first time in 1967 in Toronto’s Nathan Phillips Square to illuminate the new City Hall. Since then, Phillips Square is illuminated with more than 525,000 glistening lights that stay on from morning dusk until 11PM every night approaching the New Year. During this time, the city has great firework shows and outdoor ice skating for those interested in wintry activities.
The Christmas Tree Tradition
Christmas trees have existed for as long as many of us have been around. The question, however, is for how long? The very first Christmas tree that was decorated and recognized as part of the Christmas tradition appeared in Alsace, France in the early 17th century. After 1750, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe wrote a novel called The Suffering of Young Werther, in which he included a Christmas tree. The exposure of his novel resulted in people beginning to have Christmas trees all over Germany. As time progressed, Christmas trees expanded the globe. The first immigrants decorated Christmas trees in Pennsylvania in the 1820’s, and after Germany’s Prince Albert married Queen Victoria, he introduced the Christmas tree tradition to England. As 1848 arrived, the first American newspaper printed a picture of a Christmas tree, and it was at that point that the Christmas tree became a Christmas tradition, spreading across seemingly every home in just a few years.
We seem to have all seen or had those red, beautiful plants called Poinsettias during the holidays but where did they come from? Who claimed it to be the “Christmas Plant”? Back in 1828, the U.S. had an American minister named Joel R. Poinsett, who brought back one of these red and green plants from Mexico to America. Due to its deep, red beautiful colors, the American greenhouses began selling them to the public in the early 1830’s during Christmas. It was then when these plants were given the name Poinsettias after Mr. Poinsett. In 1870, the plant spread to New York. By 1900, the Poinsettia was a universal symbol of the Christmas holiday. A new Christmas tradition was born.
The Norway Broom Tradition
In Norway, people participate in a very old Christmas tradition on Christmas Eve with their brooms. People believe that Christmas Eve brings in the witches. To protect them from these witches, they hide their brooms all over the house so that they are not taken for a midnight ride. In addition, a bowl of porridge is left in people’s barns on Christmas Eve. The porridge is for the gnome who protects the farm.
The Ukraine Web
Once upon a time, a widow found a spider had spun a web around her Christmas tree. The web then turned into beautiful threads of silver and gold. Since then, the people of Ukraine hide a spider inside their Christmas tree. Whoever finds the spider in the tree is then said to have good luck.
Guinness for Santa in Ireland
You may hear kids chanting, “It’s time to leave milk and cookies for Santa,” on Christmas Eve, but not in Ireland, because Santa prefers a Guinness beer during his trip around the world on Christmas Eve. This Christmas tradition instructs the Irish to tell their children to leave out a pint of this beer, as well as mince pies for Ol’ Saint Nick.
Iceland Yule Lads
In Iceland, you will find folklore, with mythical trolls strolling the streets 13 nights leading up to Christmas. These strange-looking — but well-liked — trolls are also known as Yule Lads or Yulemen. They each have unique names, such as Stubby, Bowl-Licker, and Doorway-Sniffer just to name a few. They will leave children a small gift or a rather rotten potato depending on whether the child has been naughty or nice that past year.
Roller Skating in Venezuela
If you are in Caracas, Venezuela the morning of Christmas, don’t be surprised to see a strange site throughout the entire city. It’s customary for the entire city to roller skate to mass on Christmas morning. During this Christmas tradition, vehicles will block off many areas of the streets in the early morning hours to allow roller skaters to skate safely to church. Once they arrive at church, the roller skates are taken off prior to entering. There are, however, always one or two that enter the church and skate down the aisle. At the end of mass, many will go out to eat tostados and have a nice cup of coffee.
In the end, let this most wonderful time of the year bring you much joy with any Christmas tradition you like. There is no right or wrong tradition, it’s simply what lifts your spirits high and brings you joy and laughter.
10 Fun Facts:
- “Jingle Bells” was initially written for Thanksgiving, not Christmas.
- Rudolph was almost named Reginald when Montgomery Ward department store introduced him.
- Coca-Cola was the first company that used Santa Claus during the winter season for promotion.
- America’s first batch of egg nog was made in the Jamestown settlement in 1607.
- Tinsel was invented in 1610 in Germany and was once made of real silver.
- Brenda Lee recorded “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”when she was only 13 years old.
- Nova Scotia is the world’s leading exporter of Christmas trees.
- Almost 28 sets of LEGOS are sold every second during the Christmas season.
- In the world, there are two islands that are named ‘Christmas’– one is in the Pacific Ocean and the other in the Indian Ocean.
- In 1962, the U.S. issued the first Christmas postage stamp.
Written by: Ana Hetzel