Gingerbread cookies, eggnog, hot chocolate, wreath on the door and maybe a white snow blanket. Doesn’t that just look like a perfect Christmas? But is that a tradition? What are traditions? You will be surprised to know kids waking up to rotten potatoes on Christmas day is a tradition in Iceland whereas drinking hot cocoa, a tradition for Peru. Having a KFC meal is a tradition for Japan whereas mulled wine is a tradition in the United Kingdom. There are various Christmas traditions around the globe and that’s the summit of culture. Come join me on this journey of Christmas traditions through different parts of the world.
While everyone decorates trees, Greece decorates boats! Yes, boats. Even though it’s not popular as such in today’s time, it has been a tradition for Greeks to decorate and illuminate small boats for every household. It symbolises their love for the sea. Another tradition for the Greeks is Christopsomo (loaf bread) which typically means “for christ” and that is why the bread has a cross made on it. If you are new here, you probably wouldn’t know Coralie. She’s the sweetest Greek angel in my life. I got all the insights from her and she did say that Christopsomo is not as popular as the desserts consumed. Melomakarona, Diples and Kourampiedes is as Greek as you can get for the holiday season. Melomakarona are Greek honey cookies and Kourampiedes are almond biscuits made with butter and almond. After baking they are rolled in icing sugar. Kinda looks like beignets if you ask me lol. Diples on the other hand is a traditional fried pastry with honey and walnuts. The feast typically includes pork, lamb and potatoes.
Aussie Christmas is a little different than most of the world since its summer in December and due to that, Christmas day is always a beach day with beer.
While the rest of world feasts on pork, lamb, turkey etc. Australians feast on seafood, particularly prawns for barbeque followed by Christmas pudding and pavlova. Lastly, the Christmas crackers! They are Christmas table decorations containing a gift or a joke. It is a popular tradition in Australia, New Zealand and some other countries as well.
The United Kingdom has many traditions which are being followed all over the world like decorating your homes, the city in general, putting up a tree, gifting your loved ones etc. But there is more! Let’s start off by the famous stockings! Unlike many countries where stockings are put near the fireplace, the Brits put stockings above children’s bed hoping for it to be filled with gifts the next morning.
Another tradition is wearing UGLY Christmas jumpers. Crackers are again a famous thing in the UK. It is also one of the few countries where gifts are opened on the Christmas day itself i.e. 25th December. Now every household may have different traditions for their Christmas morning and how they open their presents but Christmas dinner is something everyone looks forward to and it’s usually a roast including stuffing, pigs in a blanket, meat, cranberry sauce, roasted potatoes etc.
Honestly, what is more fascinating than anything is the food Brits eat. Be it Yorkshire pudding or wassail, Brits have a plethora of foods and drinks for the holiday season. Every Christmas market will surely have a mulled wine stall. Also known as glogg, it is basically a spiced wine.
For the Christmas pudding, it’s a tradition to place a coin and whoever finds it, is said to have good luck. Record of this custom dates back to court of Edward II. Some families also set the pudding on fire! Yup you read that right! It’s believed that the flaming alcohol signifies the Passion of Christ. Along with everything Christmas tea, trifle and mince pies are the must have’s of the day as well.
From Caga Tió to Midnight mass, Spain has numerous Christmas traditions but what I will be talking about is food because Christmas treats is big in Spain. Turrón is found all year but is specially consumed in the holiday season. It is a nougat made of sugar, honey, eggs and toasted nuts. There are different types and flavours available depending on the method of preparation and ingredients. Another tempting treat is Polvorones, a shortbread made of sugar, flour, milk and nuts.
A famous sweet treat is Roscón de Reyes. Roscón means “cake in the shape of a crown” and it actually resembles a crown in appearance as well. It is a bagel shaped cake with almonds and candied fruits on top representing the jewels of a crown. It’s mostly vanilla flavoured filled with whipped cream.
Japan in particular never had a Christmas tradition since a very small percentage of them were Christians. In 1974, KFC took the opportunity and came up with the “party barrel” and a marketing plan “Kurisumasu ni wa Kentakkii”, meaning Kentucky for Christmas. Due to the fast paced lifestyle of Japan, grabbing fast food seemed fit and it’s been a tradition ever since. KFC sales go incredibly high during the holiday season in Japan. It’s estimated that 3.6 million families dine at the restaurants every year for Christmas. Now while some may say having KFC for Christmas is absolutely atrocious, for Japan it’s not just about the food, it’s about getting families together and spending quality time.
Isn’t it fascinating to know so much more about Christmas than just jingle bells? No wonder Christmas Holidays are such a big draw all over the world. Let me know what Christmas traditions your families follow in the comments below.