Holiday Traditions Around the World

The holidays are just around the corner, with Thanksgiving less than two weeks away and Christmas following only a few weeks after that. 2020 has been a challenging year for most of us, but I suspect that most of us are looking forward to some holiday cheer this year.

In light of that, let’s look at some fun holiday traditions from around the world! While many of us probably have similar American traditions- Christmas trees, stockings, cookies for Santa, etc., other parts of the world have different kinds of traditions. Here are just a few of them:

  • In Japan, it has become customary to eat KFC on December 25. This tradition started as a way for American visitors to have a traditional Christmas meal. The Japanese people enjoyed it, and now it is a holiday tradition for many in Japan.

  • In Ukraine, many people decorate their Christmas trees with spider webs. The story goes that a low-income family grew their own Christmas tree, but they did not have anything to use as decorations. When they woke up on Christmas morning, spiders had spun gold and silver webs in their tree as decorations. The family then had prosperity and joy. Now, many Ukrainians decorate their trees with spider webs for good luck.

  • In America, we threaten bad children with coal in their stockings. In Germany, Austria, and Hungary, they threaten bad children with a visit from Krampus. He shows ups to punish children who misbehave. If a child is particularly bad, the legend is that Krampus will bundle him/her in a sack and carry the child off. Most believe that child becomes a snack for Krampus.

  • In Guatemala, on December 7 of each year, they have a procession for the Immaculate Conception. As the tradition developed, Guatemalans started small fires to light the way. Then they began lighting their trash on fire. They bring out that trash and set it on fire as a symbol of burning the rubbish from the last year, believing it will remove the evil from their homes and cleanse them for the new year. This tradition is called La Quema del Diablo, or “The Burning of the Devil.”

  • In Newfoundland, they have a fun custom of mummering. During the 12 days of Christmas, people will dress up in costumes with masks and visit friends and family. When a costumed mummer knocks on the door, the homeowner decides whether or not to welcome the masked visitor. If received, the mummer must then perform for the homeowner to guess who their mystery visitor is.

  • In Norway, many families hide their brooms on Christmas Eve because witches and evil spirits would come on Christmas eve to find brooms to ride around on. So, people hid their brooms to prevent them from being stolen. Even though very few people believe in witches and evil spirits, many families still hide their brooms as part of their Christmas traditions.

People all over the world celebrate the holidays in many different ways. However you celebrate and decorate for yours, we hope the holiday season of 2020 brings you joy and happiness!

To get this information, we consulted with Newsweek.com, Departures.com, and Momondo.com.