6 Very Curious Christmas Traditions: How do They Celebrate Christmas in Other Parts of the World?

In Addition to the Universal Icon of Santa Claus, the Christmas Tree and the Gifts, there are Other Very Curious Christmas Traditions and Customs Around the World. Here we Show you 6 Curious Christmas Traditions..

Family at the Christmas tree

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LatinAmerican Post | Erika Benitez

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Leer en español: 6 tradiciones navideñas muy curiosas: ¿Cómo celebran la navidad en otras partes del mundo?

Christmas Eve is for many the favorite time of the year. It is the opportunity to share with the family, give and receive gifts, enjoy typical gastronomy and of course relive the traditions that make these dates truly special. It doesn't matter if you celebrate it for religious reasons or for other reasons, these customs keep the magic of Christmas alive generation after generation.

In different parts of the world, some traditions are quite far from what we are used to seeing and what is usually done at Christmas. Here we present a route through those most peculiar practices.

The Philippines and its giant lanterns

Every year, specifically in the city of San Fernando, the "Christmas Capital" of the Philippines, the Giant Lantern Festival is celebrated. Locals and tourists come to the celebration to see who builds the best lantern. It is a tradition that has been celebrated for more than 100 years in the Asian country.

This celebration is a national pride, a tradition that is part of the country's political history and its social and technological progress. At the beginning, the lanterns only measured half a meter in diameter, they were made with Japanese paper and lit with candles. Currently, they measure up to 12 meters in height, have different shapes, colors, and a series of lights and bulbs are used to create fanatical kaleidoscopic designs that move to the rhythm of the music.

Norway, hide the brooms on Christmas Eve?

In general, Christmas Eve in Norway is lived with a family atmosphere, dinner and mulled wine. But we also find a very curious superstition. Norwegians tend to believe that, during Christmas Eve, witches and evil spirits fly over houses looking for the brooms they need for their witchcraft. For this reason, before going to sleep, it is a tradition to hide all the brooms and vacuum cleaners in the house so that they are not stolen and thus prevent them from entering their homes.

Japan, Christmas with KFC

Despite the fact that Christmas in Japan is not a national holiday, since only 1% of the population is Christian, it is a celebration that is felt throughout the country, with decorations, markets, and lots of lighting. However, the meaning of tonight is somewhat different from that of the West. Christmas in Japan is the Japanese version of Valentine's Day. Couples often go to romantic restaurants, the shops are full of loving Christmas gifts and the streets are dressed up to celebrate Valentine's Day.

But this is not all. Something very curious is that millions of Japanese do on Christmas night is to order the festive menu at the American chain Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC). A tradition that dates back some 40 years and is rooted in its culture, it is considered the largest Christmas representation in the country. It's so popular, they have to reserve their order many weeks in advance and stand in long lines to pick it up. Beyond the menu, it is about getting together as a family and sharing food, something important in this celebration wherever you are.

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Burning of the Gävle Goat in Sweden

Every year since 1966, one month before Christmas begins, the city of Gävle in Sweden builds a huge goat, a Swedish rite that comes from pagan traditions. This is a giant version of the Yule goat, a very common ornament in this and other Scandinavian countries for many centuries. It was created to attract customers to businesses and restaurants in the southern part of the city and became a symbol of Christmas.

However, year after year, the habit of trying to destroy it has also become popular. Although the destruction of the goat is not part of the Gävle tradition, not everyone is aware of it and, despite the fact that the authorities try to protect it, it has been burned on several occasions. It is the construction of the largest straw goat in the world, for which in 1985 it entered the Guinness Book of Records.

Africa and its many traditions

Africa is a fairly large and diverse continent. Although Christmas is not celebrated in many of its countries, those that do celebrate it have very particular traditions. The first thing that stands out is that, in countries like Ethiopia or Egypt due to the change in calendar, Christmas is celebrated when in the West it is already January 7th.

Speaking of Egypt, one of their traditions consists of fasting, in which from November 25 to January 6 they do not eat any food of animal origin. On Christmas day, they prepare a big meal called “Fatta” with meat and rice. For its part, in the Congo, the good night begins with the traditional annual parade. A group of friends goes around the villages singing Christmas carols, and then they all go to church to make offerings.

As for Christmas trees, not all of them are as we are used to seeing them. In South Africa, it is a structure made with wires that are decorated with different elements. And if we go through Liberia, we'll see that the tree is actually an oil palm.

Christmas poems in Latvia

In this European country, one of the most beautiful traditions that could exist at Christmas is lived. After sharing Christmas Eve dinner, the families look for their gift under the tree, but when they open them, they must recite a poem for each gift they receive. A very peculiar custom that embellishes the night and makes it even more special.

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