I’m happy to present this guest post by Amber Kingsley – a freelance writer and world traveller. Enjoy her exploration of holiday traditions from around the world! Enjoy! – Colleen
What pops in your head when you think of the winter holidays? Snow? Check. Red suited santas? Check. Pretty lights and Christmas-themed window design? Check. Cookies, grandma’s roast and sugary treats? Check, check, check!
But in some parts of the worlds, Christmas is a whole different story. Starting with food and ending with traditions, winter is really different.
So what are some of these strange ways?
Christmas tends to be a time to impress everybody with your cooking. Even if it takes you three days to get everything done. In Japan, people are taking a different route. A smart routine, maybe. Ordered in advance, KFC buckets are all the rage on Christmas and all because of a 1970s television ad.
It’s slogan, Kentucky for Christmas!, left an impression and 40 years later remains one of the strongest traditions. The majority of Japanese aren’t christian, but they have adopted the western version of Christmas which is also two days after the birthday of the emperor, a national Holiday.
If you’re not a good boy or girl, the Italian Santa is as harsh as he can be. Instead of new toys, naughty children receive carbone dolce, a special type of candy that looks like coal. The bearer of gifts isn’t Babbo Natale (Santa Claus), but an old witch, La Befana, who takes on the role of Santa and rides her broom across the country to deliver kids presents.
Christmas runs hand-in-hand with Il-Milied in Malta. The main focus of this festival is the crib (or manger). Everyone builds cribs in Malta and so cribs are everywhere! People then decorate them with three figures, called pasturi, which represent Mary, Joseph and Jesus, as well as angels, shepherds, villagers and barn animals. They surround the cribs with flowers and lights and decorate their houses, churches and gardens.
If you’re tired of the old decorations and want to give your tree a new look this year, try the Ukrainian way. Make your tree host to silvery spiders and webs! In the Ukraine it brings good luck. The story goes that an old woman who could not afford decorating her tree for her children found it in spider webs one morning. The spiders worked all night so that they wouldn’t have an empty tree.
While some of us are busy eating, the Slovakians are tossing their food! The tradition states that the head of the family starts the meal by tossing a piece of Lokshe, a dish made of poppy seeds and bread, on the ceiling. Of course, there is a good explanation for this: the more Lokshe on the ceiling, the better harvests people will have next year. And the more cleaning afterwards, I might add.
The French opt for a fancy feast rather than a rustic, hearty meal for Christmas. A typical French meal might start with oysters, foie gras and lobster, include roasted duck and a traditional dessert called La Buche de Noel (a Yule log cream cake). Champagne is usually served to accompany the food. Not to mention that, in Provence, 13 desserts are served at the end the meal, to represent the 12+1 months of the year.
Every country has such interesting holiday traditions! Just imagine spending the next three Christmases somewhere around the world. That would be a wonderful experience, if you’re willing to be separated from your family for the holidays (or you could just take them with you)!
Amber Kingsley is a freelance writer for RedSeven Leisure and has contributed to several sites and blogs. She loves traveling all over the world to discover unique traditions and cultures. She encourages all her readers to take trips during the holidays to experience new holiday traditions.