By: Sandra Benlian
The most wonderful time of the year! Many people say what they love about the holidays is the atmosphere and the spirit that fills the streets, homes, radio stations, store windows… you get the idea. In the US it is common to put up colorful lights, drink hot cocoa, and take photos with Santa. But what about foreign festivities? Here are some traditions from around the world for the holiday season
- Gavle Goat, Sweden
In the center of Gävle’s Castle Square, a 13 meter tall Yule Goat can be seen, having been a tradition since 1966. However this has also stemmed into another tradition, of people trying to burn this goat down. Since its origin in 1966, it has been burned down 29 times
2. Dia de las Velitas, Colombia
This day known as Day of the Candles, which marks the beginning of the Christmas season in Colombia. Candles and paper lanterns are placed decoratively in windows, balconies, and front yards, to honor the Virgin Mary and the Immaculate Conception. Some neighborhoods, like Quimbaya, compete to see who can come up with the most creative arrangement.
3. BURN THE DEVIL, Guatemala
Fire really seems to be a reoccurring theme…. On December 7, which is the eve of the Feast of Immaculate conception, Guatemalans come together during sunset to burn down an effigy of the devil (effigy being a crude figure representing a hated individual). This ritual is performed with the belief that their homes would be cleansed of evils and misfortunes from the past years, and this is a tradition that has been around since the 17th century
4. KFC Dinner, Japan
Christmas has never been a very festive holiday in Japan. People might exchange gifts and put up some lights, but celebrations never meet the extent in which some other countries might celebrate the holiday. However, one interesting tradition has arose in Japan, which is indulging in a KFC meal with the family; KFC has now been selling Christmas-themed items and meals for the holidays
5. Yule Lads, Iceland
As many Christmas-celebrators cross paths with Santa, Iceland is home to 13 jokester trolls who visit children throughout the 13 days leading up to Christmas. The children put out their best shoes by their doors or windows, and these Yule Lads leave gifts for the good kids and rotting potatoes for the naughty ones.
6. HIDE THE BROOMS, Norway
This tradition dates back many centuries, to when the Norwegian people had beliefs that witches and evil spirits who come out during Christmas Eve would be on a search to find brooms to ride on. Therefore, people would try and hide their brooms in the safest part of their home.
7. Eating good, Ukraine
Seems like stockings aren’t the only thing getting stuffed this time of year. In Ukraine, dinner for Christmas consists of a twelve-course meal. However, the consumption doesn’t begin until the youngest of the family spots the the evening star appear, watching out of the window.
8. Krampus, Austria
In Austria, coal isn’t the only punishment bad kids have to worry about. Along with the well-loved St. Nicholas, the horned creature Krampus is rumored to pay a visit to those on the naughty list.