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Christmas Traditions Around the World

Christmas is just around the corner and for many it’s a time for family, festive meals and surprising your dear ones with presents. However, in different parts of the world there is more to the festive season and some countries have fascinating traditions that make Christmas special and unique.

Have a look at those 5 fascinating Christmas traditions and maybe even get inspired to incorporate them into your own Christmas!


Spain

In Catalonia, the North East region and autonomous community of Spain, children receive gifts from a peculiar character – the pooping log. Officially called the Tió de Nadal, but more commonly known as the Caga Tió (pooping log), it’s a small smiley log, covered in blanket to keep it warm, and fed by children during December with fruits and nuts to help it grow. If the children take good care of it, the Caga Tió poops presents. On Christmas Eve, the children gather around Caga Tió and whilst singing a popular song, they beat Caga Tió with a stick until it poops presents which are hidden under its blanket.

Credit: https://www.aerobusbcn.com/blog/en/only-happens-in-barcelona/catalan-traditions/

Estonia

Estonians have a fun tradition for receiving Christmas presents. They don’t just give presents to each other, or put them under the Christmas tree, that would be too easy! In order to earn their present fairly, each member of the family has to perform a song, read a poem, play an instrument or show off any other skill they might have. For each present, there has to be a separate performance, some people take it very seriously and prepare the songs and poems well in advance.

Credit: Image by Kadri Ann Rebane

Italy

Instead of Father Christmas, Italians have their own Witch of Christmas called La Belfana. According to an old folklore legend, on the night of 06 January, an old woman flies on her broomstick from house to house to visit the good children and fill their stockings with present. Belfana wears a black shawl over a dress and is covered with soot from climbing down the chimneys to deliver the gifts.

Credit: https://blog.rome-accommodation.net/la-befana-rome

 


Japan

Japan have a very surprising Christmas meal tradition despite Christmas not being a national holiday. On a Christmas Eve, around 3.6 million Japanese families head out to have a festive meal in the fast-food restaurant KFC. This habit started when KFC released a marketing campaign in Japan in 1974 with a slogan “Kentucky for Christmas”.

Credit: https://www.businessinsider.com/how-kfc-became-a-christmas-tradition-in-japan-2016-12?r=US&IR=T

Poland

Poland on the other hand has very religious Christmas celebrations. The most important moment of Polish Christmas is the Christmas Eve dinner. The dinner starts when the first star appears in the sky and before the meal, the oldest person in the family reads the Bible and everyone gives best wishes to one another. There are 12 traditional courses served during the dinner, each course symbolising one of the 12 Apostles and one month of the year. Probably the most famous dish of the evening is a beetroot soup sometimes known as red borscht.

Credit: https://www.thespruceeats.com/polish-christmas-eve-beet-soup-recipe-1137124

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