Since December is the most festive month of the year, where millions of people celebrate the holidays and enjoy Christmas according to their own traditions and religious rituals. We’ll take this opportunity to show you how different countries around the world celebrate Christmas, so keep reading.
Naturally, when you think of Christmas, you picture a tree full of decorative ornaments or Santa Clause with his big white beard and huge fat belly. However, Sweden begs to differ. They use the Yule Goat as a Christmas symbol, which dates back to ancient pagan festivals. However, in 1966, this tradition took a whole new level when someone decided to make a giant straw goat, now referred to as the Gävle Goat. The goat is more than 12 meters high, 23 meters wide, and weighs 3.6 tons. Every year, the gigantic goat is constructed in the same spot.
While the United States celebrate 12 days of Christmas, Iceland celebrates 13 days. Every night before Christmas, 13 Yule Lads visit Icelandic children. The children put their shoes by the window then go to sleep. In the morning, they either get candies if they were good or get their shoes filled with rotten potatoes if they were bad.
Every Christmas morning, Finish families eat a porridge made of rice and milk topped with cinnamon or butter. Only one family member can be lucky enough to win once they find an almond placed inside their pudding. However, some families cheat and hide a few almonds in their kids’ plates so they don't get upset. By the end of the day, it is a tradition to warm up in a sauna together.
Did you know that Christmas comes in the summertime in New Zealand? That’s why their traditions are centered around barbeques or grills, where families and friends gather for a casual cookout of fresh meat, seafood, and seasonal vegetables. Their Christmas tree is the Pohutukawa, which is a coastal species that blooms a bright-red color in December, supplying shade during the sunny days while they sing carols in both English and Maori.
Many families on Christmas Eve in Poland share oplatek (an unleavened religious wafer), where each person breaks off a piece and wishes each other Merry Christmas. Dinner will not start until the first star appears in the night sky. Traditionally, families leave an extra setting at the table, should someone show up uninvited.
In Alpine countries, like Austria, there is a legend that says that Krampus, a demonic creature, will come on December 6. Children are asked to make a list of their good and bad deeds. Good kids are given candies, apples, and nuts, while bad kids fear what Krampus will bring on Christmas morning.
Celebrating Christmas is still relatively new in Japan. It has been widely recognized in the last few decades and is usually not considered a religious holiday, but a time to spread happiness and joy or spend a romantic couple's day. Many people order KFC for Christmas dinner or make reservations at restaurants instead of cooking a big banquet.
In Ethiopia, Christmas is called Ganna or Genna. People celebrate it on January 7 according to the Ethiopian Orthodox Calendar. Mass regularly starts with a special candlelit procession, where participants wear a white shawl called “Netela” and process around the church three times prior to the service. They don't exactly exchange gifts during Ganna; it's mainly a time for church, playing games, and eating delicious food.