The holiday season is officially upon us—you know what that means . . . Winter Break! Of course, not everyone celebrates Christmas, but did you know that not everyone who celebrates Christmas does it the same way?
If you are starting to feel bored with your typical holiday traditions, feel free to mix it up this year with one of these fun festivities celebrated in other cultures.
For many of us in the United States, we spend Christmas Eve with family singing carols, looking at the lights, or desperately shopping for last minute gifts.
Traditions in Finland, however, are quite a bit different. Many churches and cemeteries hold ceremonies in remembrance of deceased family members.
The tradition began in the 1920s after WWI and continues today. Family members sing hymns, have quiet moments of reflection, and lay candles or lanterns on the graves of loved ones.
Every year around December 7th, Guatemalans begin sweeping their homes, clearing out clutter, and piling their trash in massive heaps in the street.
Atop the pile sits an effigy of the devil. All of which is set on fire. The blaze is a symbolic, ritualistic way of clearing out negative energy and evil spirits. Once the blaze dies out, the celebration begins.
This tradition began from a legend that tells of a poor family who grew a tree from a pinecone. The children spent months dreaming up lavish ways of decorating it, but unfortunately couldn’t afford even a single ornament.
On Christmas morning the family woke to discover their tree decorated with beautiful spider webs—spun in silver and gold. The tradition of adorning your tree in spider webs and spider ornaments continues and is considered to bring good luck to your family in the coming year.
Some of us hide presents in a Christmas tree or other less conspicuous locations. The Germans do it a little different—they hide a pickle. The first child to discover the hidden pickle in the Christmas tree on Christmas morning receives a small gift.
Jolly old Saint Nick bestows gifts to good little girls and boys in the United States—and the naughty ones? They get coal. Well, that’s nothing compared to Krampus.
Austrian folklore believes that good little girls and boys do get gifts from Saint Nicholas, but his sidekick Krampus? He delivers punishment to the naughty ones. What kind of punishments you ask? Well, the really bad ones get bundled up, kidnapped, and eaten! Puts a whole new spin on the phrase “You better watch out.”
In 1974 KFC ran a promotion that provided visiting foreigners with a familiar Christmas dinner in Japan. Ever since that promotion, it has become tradition for the Japanese to eat KFC for dinner on Christmas Day.
The tradition has become so popular, customers are encouraged to place their order 2 months in advance—just goes to show how powerful a good ad campaign can be!
With all of the advertisements for jewelry during the holidays in the States, it almost seems like a tradition for couples to get engaged during the holiday season.
In the Czech Republic, they do it a little differently. It is tradition for unmarried women to stand by a door and kick or throw a shoe over their shoulder to find out if they will be married within the next year.
How do they know? If the shoe lands with the toe pointing towards the door, they will be married, if not . . . too bad, try again next year.
From all of us here at Alexandria, Happy Holidays!