Most Unique Christmas Traditions Around the World
The world is full of different people and diverse countries. It is therefore, hardly any surprise that Christmas is celebrated differently in different parts of the world.
Christmas is one of the important Christian festivals, celebrated with great fanfare around the world. The day, which is observed on 25 December, is celebrated to commemorate the birth of Lord Jesus Christ. It is a holiday season in many countries of the world, where Christianity is the predominant religion. While the festival is celebrated with enthusiasm worldwide, the customs and traditions associated with it vary from one country to the other. This is largely because of the difference in lifestyle and culture.
Listed below are some Unique Christmas Traditions in the World describing some amazing traditions, beliefs and customs that our brothers and sisters around the globe do before, after and during Christmas Day.
Mummering is a Christmas tradition in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. These are small groups of belsnicklers or masked mummers dressed up in costumes and visits household where they sing and dance. The mummers are served with Christmas cakes and cup something nice by the host. There are some places, however, wherein the host is given a chance to guess who the mummers are and if they guessed correctly, the mummer removes his/her disguise and stops making rude noises and actions. If guessed incorrectly, the host must join the Mummers in their merry-making.
In many regions in France, Christmas celebrations start with St Nicholas day on the 6th of December. Then children get sweets and little gifts. Cities are decorated in France, especially in the Alsace region, where they say the first decorated Christmas trees appeared as far back as the 14th century. On Christmas eve, Children put their polished shoes out in front of the chimney and hope that ‘Père Noël’ (Father Christmas) fills the shoes with sweets. Christmas Day, 25th of December is a public holiday and families get together for a big feast. On this day also presents get exchanged.
Aside from the tradition of serving food for the dead, another custom in Portugal is the Janeiras. It consists of a group of people strolling the streets and singing from house to house. After the song, the singers are invited inside and are served with snacks and drinks. If the host does not open the door and if the food and drink doesn’t meet what is expected, the singers will sing songs of mockery.
The Russian calender marks Christmas as the 7th of January each year and not 25th December. This is so because the Orthodox Church follows the Julian calender to mark religious days. Russians often fast for 39 days till 6th January, i.e., Christmas Eve and break their fast with the appearance of the first evening star in the sky.
In Germany, children get some of their presents early! December 6th is St. Nicholas’ Day and “der Nikolaus” brings some small gifts, such as sweets and chocolate, to the children. He comes in the night between the 5th and the 6th and puts the presents in the shoes of the children, who usually polish them and place them outside their doors on the previous evening.
Greeks believed in the existence of Kallikantzari (or Callicantzari), mischievous and dangerous sprites which prey upon people during the 12 days of Christmas (between Christmas Day and Epiphany). They are believed to emerge from the center of the earth and slip in people’s house through the chimney. These creatures are said to cause mischief in houses they visit. Several household would keep a fire burning on the hearth throughout the twelve days to repel the undesirable sprites. A ceremonial blessing of the waters by a priest on Epiphany was believed to settle the nasty creatures until the next year.
In parts of Spain, specifically Catalunya and some ‘Aragon’ regions, the Yule log tradition is quite a bit different. In these traditions, parents to set up the log at Christmas time, and make believe that it defecates small presents when children hit it with a stick. Sometimes, the log is dressed up with a little face and hat. Children sing songs encouraging the log to poop out gifts. Astonishingly enough, this practice is still done in some communities at Christmas time.
Unique Christmas traditions in the United Kingdom includes children writing letters to Father Christmas, listing their requests. Instead of putting them in the post, however, some children toss the letters into the fireplace. It is believed that the drought carries the letters up the chimney and Father Christmas reads the smoke. Some areas including Scotland, believes in the tradition widely known as ‘first footing’. It is said that the first person to set foot in a house in a New Year is thought to have a big effect on the fortunes of the people that live there.