Voices

November 25, 2015

Unusual Holiday Traditions Around the World

We’ve collected unusual holiday traditions that take place all over the world – including our destinations, Japan and The Netherlands. After reading this, you’ll realize your family traditions are much more normal than they seem.

If Halloween met Christmas

Image credit: madbuster75 via Flickr.

Image credit: madbuster75 via Flickr.

Have you ever thought about decorating your Christmas tree with spider webs? We sure didn’t. In Ukraine, Christmas trees are often decorated in (fake) spider webs to welcome good luck into the coming year. Legend tells of a poor family who grew their own Christmas tree from a pinecone, when they couldn’t afford to purchase one. The children dreamed of different ways to decorate the tree, but the family was penniless, so the tree would remain unadorned. Upon waking on Christmas day, the children discovered that spiders had spun webs of glistening silk around the branches. Each web magically turned into silver and gold, bringing the tree to life.

 

Flowers of the Holy Night

Image credit: katiewilsonphotoadventures via Flickr.

Image credit: katiewilsonphotoadventures via Flickr.

Poinsettia’s, or Flowers of the Holy Night (Flores de Noche Buena), weren’t always associated with Christmas. According to a Mexican legend, a poverty-stricken brother and sister gifted weedy branches to the Christ Child at their church around the holidays. The siblings were mocked for their meager offering – but soon, a miracle began to unfold. Beautiful red star-shaped blossoms began to bloom on each branch. Eventually, the Flowers of the Holy Night plant was re-named Poinsettia after the United States’ Mexican Ambassador (Joel Roberts Poinsett) brought clippings back to America.

 

Deck the table with fried chicken

Image credit: teistar via Flickr.

Image credit: teistar via Flickr.

Did you know that the Japanese celebrate December 25th by dining on KFC? It’s true that the country doesn’t celebrate a traditional Christmas, and the Colonel’s fried chicken is so popular in Japan that KFC suggests customers place their holiday order two months in advance. This unique tradition began in 1974, when KFC revealed their first holiday meal targeted towards foreigners who were craving something “traditional” for their stay abroad. 41 years later, KFC continues to adorn tables and kitchens in late December.

 

Presents or potatoes?

Image credit: mindcaster-ezzolicious via Flickr.

Image credit: mindcaster-ezzolicious via Flickr.

In The Netherlands, children have not one – but TWO – special nights to look forward to. On the evening that Sinterklaas and his soot-covered helpers, Zwarte Pieten, travel from Spain and arrive in The Netherlands, children leave a shoe out on a windowsill and sing traditional songs in hope that the jolly man will come during the night to deliver presents. Naughty children will be taken by Sinterklaas back to Spain for a year as a punishment. On the 24th of December, Dutch children get yet another night – when another jolly old man (Santa Claus) comes from Finland to deliver more presents. Lucky them!

 

A lovely Christmas…. Devil?

Image credit: gmbd via Flickr.

Image credit: gmbd via Flickr.

Half-goat, half-demon – all evil. The anti-St. Nicholas, known as Krampus, runs through the streets of Austria, swatting children with birch sticks who misbehaved throughout the year. This legend is part of a centuries-old Christmas tradition in Germany, beginning in early December and continuing throughout the month. This is where we say, “Bah, humbug!”

 

 

Do you have or know of any other unusual holiday traditions? We want to hear them! Let us know in the comment section below or by heading to our Facebook page.

 

 

 

 

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