It won’t be an exaggeration to say that December is the happiest month in the world. Since Christmas, which is celebrated in almost every corner of the globe, falls in December, 25 people are eagerly awaiting the arrival of this month. Many people think Christmas is December 25th and that’s it around the time of this glorious holiday.
However, given the different Christian traditions around the world, Christmas lasts longer in some countries and is therefore celebrated at different times. Although December 25, when most people celebrate Christmas, there are other dates as well.
In particular, Orthodox churches in Russia, Serbia, Jerusalem, Ukraine and other countries celebrate Christmas on January 7, because they use the old “Julian” calendar. The Coptic Orthodox Church celebrates Christmas on January 7, while the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church also celebrates it on the same day. Most Greek Orthodox Churches also celebrate Christmas on December 25, but some still use the Julian calendar and celebrate Christmas on January 7.
The American Apostolic Church celebrates Christmas on January 6.
Christmas is a holiday full of diversity and joy for people all over the world. Almost every country has its own traditions and celebrations. Against this background, it will be really fun to read or even learn about the unique traditions that make other countries and cultures special. This article is about some of those unique and even weirder Christmas traditions in several parts of the world.
Italy: The Christmas Witch
In many countries, Santa Claus is the person who travels the world and gives gifts to deserving young children on Christmas Eve. Children are told to be nice because Santa is watching them and will know if they are behaving well! On Christmas morning, good children are rewarded with gifts from this iconic figure.
But in Italy there is someone else who delivers gifts. Befana is the name of a witch who would travel through Italy on the eve of Epiphany (January 5) to give gifts to children across the country. If the children have been good all year long, their socks are full of candy and gifts. But if they were bad, they only get smut.
Austria: Scary Santa
In many countries we have Santa Claus. He brings gifts all over the world on Christmas Eve and loves to eat milk and cookies along the way. But in Austria there is a much more unusual figure associated with Christmas. While Santa Claus rewards kids who have been good all year round and deserve treats and gifts, Krampus is the exact opposite.
He is half-man, half-goat and comes to drag the wicked. He is a figure in the mythology of many Eastern European countries, including Austria, and he comes at Christmas to punish children who have been bad. During the first week of December, the young men dress up as the creepy children of Krampus with chains and clicking bells.
Iceland: Christmas boys
The Yule Lads are the suns of Gryla and Leppaludi. They are a group of 13 mischievous pranksters who steal or harass the population and all have descriptive names that express their favorite way of harassing. They arrive in town one by one for the last 13 nights before Christmas. They leave small gifts in shoes the children have placed on the windowsills, but if the children disobeyed, they leave a rotten potato in the shoe instead.
Not to be confused with Weihnachtsmann (Father Christmas), Saint Nicholas travels on a donkey in the middle of the night of December 6 and leaves little treats like coins, chocolates, oranges and toys in their skin. good children all over Germany, and in particular in the Bavarian region.
Saint Nicholas also visits children in schools or at home and in exchange for candy or a small gift, each child has to recite a poem, sing a song or draw a picture. In short, he’s a great guy.
But it’s not always fun and games. Knecht Ruprecht accompanies Saint Nicholas clad in black fur with a terrifying mask, loud chains and a staff! He carries a stick or a small whip in his hand to punish children who misbehave. But these days it is often overlooked because it is quite scary for little kids.
Philippines: giant lantern festival
The Giant Lantern Festival is an annual event during the Christmas season that is held in mid-December in the city of San Fernando in the Philippines. The festival features a giant lantern competition. Due to the popularity of the festival, the city has been dubbed the “Christmas Capital of the Philippines”.
Originally, lanterns were simple creations about half a meter in diameter, made from Japanese origami paper and lit by candles. Today, lanterns are made from a variety of materials and have grown to a size of around six meters. They are lit by electric bulbs that twinkle in a kaleidoscope of patterns.
Sweden: Christmas goat
Since 1966, a 13-meter-high Christmas goat had been built in the center of Gävle Castle Square for Advent, but this Swedish Christmas tradition unwittingly led to another sporting tradition as people tried to to burn. The goat has been reduced to ashes for most years since its first appearance in 1966. By December 2021, the goat had been damaged 38 times.
Colombia: Small Candles Day
Small Candle Day marks the start of the Christmas season across Colombia. In honor of the Virgin Mary and the Immaculate Conception, people place candles and paper lanterns in their windows, balconies and front yards.
The tradition of candles has grown, and now entire cities across the country are illuminated with elaborate displays. Some of the best can be found in Quimbaya, where neighborhoods compete against each other to see who can create the most impressive arrangement.
Perhaps one of the more unorthodox traditions of Christmas Eve can be found in Norway, where people hide their brooms. It’s a tradition that dates back centuries when people believed that witches and evil spirits came out on Christmas Eve in search of brooms to ride on. To this day, many people still hide their brooms in the safest part of the house to prevent them from being stolen.
US: A roaring fire on TV
During the winter, people who live in colder climates like to turn up the heat and stay warm indoors. If you are lucky enough to live somewhere with a fireplace in your home, winter is a great time to light it up and let the warmth and glow of the fire warm your home. But even if you are not lucky enough to have a fireplace, you can still enjoy it on your TV.
The Yule log is a television tradition in the United States that began in the 1960s. It was originally broadcast on Christmas Eve or Christmas on television (New York’s WPIX), but has since spread. and there’s even a version of it on Netflix now. The “Show” is simply the flow of a lit fireplace with Christmas music in the background.
New Zealand: another Christmas tree
For many countries, pine is the traditional Christmas tree. Whether you have a real one or a fake one, they sit in our living rooms, decorate themselves and have gifts placed under them. But in New Zealand, the “Pohutukawa tree” blooms with bright red flowers in December and January.
It is actually summer in this part of the world, but Christmas is celebrated at the same time. This tree has significant roots in Maori mythology and its bright red flowers and green leaves are a symbol of Christmas across New Zealand.
Greece: Christmas trees and boats
In the land of the sea, Greece, decorating Christmas trees and boats has been popular for centuries. The first known Christmas tree in Greece was erected by King Otto in 1833 next to a large decorated boat, which families traditionally erected to celebrate the return of men from sea voyages.
Today, in cities like Athens and Thessaloniki, large illuminated boats stand alongside the trees.