Today we’re feeling EXTRA festive, so we wanted to explore some more of the worlds unusual Christmas traditions! Last time, we learnt about the Swedish Yule goat, Japan’s KFC tradition, the Philippines Giant Lantern Festival, Austria’s Krampus and Little Candles’ Day in Colombia. If you missed it, be sure to check out last weeks blog! All caught up? Let’s get started exploring some more unusual Christmas traditions around the world…
The Yule Lads – Sweden
In the 13 days leading up to Christmas, you can expect to see some troll-like characters out and about in Iceland! jólasveinarnir or jólasveinar or ‘the Yule Lads’ pay children visits up and down the country in the 13 days running up to Christmas. This period is called Yuletide and sees children placing their shoes by the window to receive a visit from different Yule Lad each night. The lad will leave gifts if you’ve been good and rotting potatoes if you’ve been naughty – that’s an insensitive to be good if we’ve ever heard one!
St Nicholas’ Day – Germany
Nikolaus is known for travelling by donkey on the 6th of December and leaving little treats in the shoes of good boys and girls across the country, especially in the Bavarian region. But be aware! St Nicholas is often accompanied by Knecht Ruprecht (Farmhand Rupert), a devil-like character who carries a stick to punish any naughty children.
Hide your brooms! – Norway
In Norway, you may have a hard time finding a broom on Christmas Eve. This is because tradition dictates that witches and evil spirits come out on Christmas Eve looking for brooms to ride on. This tradition dates back centuries but to this day many people still hide their brooms in the best hiding spot possible on Christmas Eve!
The Lighting of National Hanukkah Menorah – Washington, D.C. USA.
The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah takes place before Christmas and sees one of its most elaborate events taking place on a national stage in Washington, D.C. The tradition dates back to 1979 and involves a giant nine-metre Menorah raised on the White House grounds for the eight days and nights of Hanukkah. During the ceremony, you can expect to hear speeches and music, with games being played for children and, of course, the lighting of the Menorah. The lighting of the first candle takes place at 4pm, with an additional candle being lit each night after that.
Cavalcade of Lights – Toronto, Canada
Last but not least, the Cavalcade of Lights in Toronto, Canada! This event marks the start of the holiday season and takes place at Nathan Philip’s Square in the heart of downtown Toronto. The tradition dates back to 1967 when the event was set up to show off Toronto’s newly constructed City Hall and Nathan Phillips Square. The area is illuminated by more than 300,000 energy-efficient LED lights that shine from dusk until 11 at night, each night until the New Year. You can also expect to see some fireworks and outdoor ice skating!