Christmas Traditions Around the World

Christmas. One of the few holidays celebrated across the globe. It’s a day filled with excitement and joy. However, we tend to follow a list of expectations, a list of moments or activities that are in a way required. Decorating a Christmas tree, opening stockings are traditions that we’ve grown up with. It’s all we know. However, do you wonder what the rest of the world is doing on this joyous occasion?

Two of the beautiful lanterns from a previous competition.

The Giant Festival of Lights (Kapampangan: Ligligan Parul) in the Philippines may be one of the most beautiful Christmas traditions in the world. This event has become so popular that the city it takes place in (San Fernando) has been nicknamed the “Christmas Capital of the Philippines”. The Giant Festival of Lights takes place in mid-December, it is an event where people compete to create the most beautiful giant lantern. This competition allows the people of San Fernando to showcase their creativity and show off their beautiful lanterns to the people in the spirit of Christmas.

While the Giant Festival of Lights is a beautiful tradition, Sweden’s “Gävle goat” also leaves the public in awe. Gävle goat takes place at Slottstorget in central Gävle, Sweden. It is an enlarged replica of a traditional Sweden Yule goat, which is created by locals and

made from hay. The goat is put up at the beginning of the Christmas season in hopes that it will last till Christmas. Often times it is burned down or intentionally destroyed because a part of the tradition involves a bet in regard to the amount of time the goat will stand.

Saint Nicholas Day is a German tradition that is very similar to the way we celebrate Christmas in America. It is celebrated on December 6th as well as eve (December 5th ). It is a day to celebrate Saint Nicholas (who died December 6th). A large feast is held either on the evening of the eve or during the day time. It is a day where families come together and exchange gifts to honor Saint Nicholas.

The Yule Lads in Iceland are a fun, yet strange holiday tradition celebrated on the thirteen days leading up to Christmas. On these days, 13 whimsical troll-like characters come to life in Iceland. The Yule Lads visit children around the country throughout the 13 magical nights of Yuletide. The children put their “best shoes” out for display on the windowsill for the Yule lads to see. The “good” children are gifted toys and treats while the others are left with rotting potatoes!

A Colombian towns “Little Candles Day” display.

Similar to the Giant Lantern Festival, Colombia celebrates “Little Candles Day”, (Día de las Velitas), is a traditional Christmas competition. The people place candles and paper lanterns in their windows, balconies, and front yards. The tradition has grown to be so large and popular that towns and cities all across Colombia are lit up with elaborate displays. Some of the best displays can be found in Quimbaya, where neighborhoods compete to see who can create the most impressive arrangements.

Enjoy the holiday season, wherever you may be!