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Even More Chrtistmas Traditions Around The World, & Strange Christmas Traditions Too!

Updated on November 14, 2014
Christmas crackers were a common Christmas tradition in much of Europe, but have only gained in popularity in the United States during the last five years
Christmas crackers were a common Christmas tradition in much of Europe, but have only gained in popularity in the United States during the last five years

More Christmas traditions to share with friends and family!

Following up on my previous hub that focused on Christmas traditions around the world, here is another collection of Christmas traditions from even more countries, as well as a listing of some other customs that we may find strange, but are common and celebrated each year during the holiday season in their originating countries.

Christmas cards and Christmas magazines are also a large part of Norwegian Christmas traditions
Christmas cards and Christmas magazines are also a large part of Norwegian Christmas traditions

Christmas Traditions in Norway

In Norway, friends and family get together on the four Sundays leading up to Christmas Eve, lighting candles to celebrate the beginning of the advent season and the time leading up to the birth of baby Jesus. Children are sometimes given an advent calendar with small presents in it to mark the passing of advent. Many of the old Christmas traditions in Norway are still practiced with a sheaf of grain being put out for the birds, and Christmas stories being read.

Dinner on Christmas Eve can vary, depending on the region, but many options are enjoyed by the Norwegians from roast pork ribs, fish, and steamed lamb. A home brewed beer is made especially for Christmas, and is enjoyed by the adults while the children are given a red fizzy Christmas drink. After the main course, a rice cream with a red berry sauce is a typical dessert. When dining has finished, another Christmas custom is for all of the family to sing carols, while walking around the Christmas tree.

The favorite tradition of Christmas in Norway for the children is the arrival of Santa Claus, who distributes presents to the children who have been well behaved. The barn gnome is another popular Christmas figure, prone to mischief. To treat him well, it is usual to leave him a bowl of rice porridge with butter in the barn.

Christmas afternoon, it is time for church, with the visiting of the family graves and laying flowers after the service. By five o clock all of the church bells begin to ring and a televised carol service is enjoyed. This marks the real beginning of Christmas and the Christmas traditions of Norway continue.

Mexican Christmas Traditions

Research has indicated that Fray Pedro de Gante introduced the Mexicans to Christmas, in 1538. As a Spanish missionary, he was able to witness the Colonial settlers enter into the celebrations for Christmas, accompanied by much gaiety and joy. However, it was not until the 17th century that the native poinsettias accepted Christmas as an event to celebrate.

Readings from the Bible were part of the celebrations, with flowers and feathers being used as decorations as the Mexican people recognized Navidad – The Nativity.

Mexican Christmas traditions revolve around the legend of a young boy named Pablo, who was unable to buy a gift for Jesus, so instead he offered weeds that he had picked on his journey to the alter. Before reaching his destination, the weeds had turned in to bright red poinsettias which he was proudly able to offer as a gift. This prompted the tradition of offering flowers to the Lord.

December 16th sees the beginning of the fiesta, las posadas, a series of processions lasting nine nights, re-enacting the journey of Mary and Joseph, from Nazareth to Bethlehem.

This took into account their quest for shelter, before the birth of their baby. The procession splits into two groups, one being innkeepers and the other pilgrims. The pilgrims go from inn-to-inn requesting shelter until the manger is found. Every home and public place has a manger scene set up in it, called nacimiento. The pilgrims say a prayer over the manger, and then the festivities start. After the final fiesta is over, everyone attends midnight mass. Bells, firecrackers and whistles finally announce the arrival of Christmas Day and the festivities continue until January 6th which is Three Kings Day.

Dramas called pastorela, are a further indication of Mexican Christmas Traditions. Performed in the countryside, these are Mexican versions of European medieval miracle plays portraying the activities of shepherds and pastors.

The Christmas celebration is further enhanced by parades, bullfights, rodeos and Pinata breaking ceremonies, highlighting the pageantry of these celebrations.

Japanese Christmas traditions wouldn't be complete without a Christmas Godzilla!
Japanese Christmas traditions wouldn't be complete without a Christmas Godzilla!

Japanese Christmas Traditions

The Japanese Christmas traditions are celebrated with much enthusiasm and excitement. Homes and whole communities are colorfully decorated with symbols representing the time of year, along with trinkets and baubles, supplied by Japanese industry. Even though there is only a very small percentage of Japanese that are Christians, this does not affect the way the celebrations are conducted, although the religious aspect is a little less emphasized.

All the basic features of Christmas are celebrated in Japan, similar to many other nations. Japanese Christmas traditions ensure that every house has a nativity scene in it, along with mistletoe and a Christmas tree. The only difference is that in many of the stores and homes, they have Hoeiosho, a Buddhist monk who distributes gifts amongst the children, instead of Santa Claus. Gifts and cards are exchanged among family members who, in turn, spread the message of peace and good will for all.

The Ninth Symphony of Beethoven, the Daiku, is the favorite music of the Christmas season for the Japanese, and the customary meal is fried chicken. Another usual tradition is Christmas cake which is a sponge cake decorated with flowers, miniature figures, trees and Santa Claus.

Although Christmas has become more commercial over the years, just the same as in many other countries, these Japanese customs are still practiced, which bring more of a unique feel to the Japanese Christmas traditions generally.

The Christians of Japan further enhance Japanese Christmas traditions, when they spend their time caring for the poor and sick, and indulging in many other charitable activities. Worshiping is also carried out, while nativity plays are performed by the children on Christmas Eve.

As the holiday progresses, by far the most important day for the Japanese is New Year’s Day. This is one of the many Japanese Christmas traditions that witness the whole family going around the house driving out evil spirits and encouraging good luck for the year ahead: a custom which probably originates from the Chinese and their belief. This custom, together with the cleaning and decorating of the house, is all hugely significant to the Japanese.

Roller skating to church is a Christmas tradition in Caracus
Roller skating to church is a Christmas tradition in Caracus
Krampus is Santa's evil twin who punishes the bad children in Germany
Krampus is Santa's evil twin who punishes the bad children in Germany

Strange Christmas Traditions From Around the World

Many countries have their own different ways of celebrating the event, but here are some of the strange Christmas traditions that take place from around the world.

Caracus in Venezuela sees the local inhabitants roller skate to church on Christmas Eve, and the streets are closed to cars for the safety of the skaters.

Christmas trees in Ukraine are decorated with imitation spider’s webs, which are seen as a sign of good luck for the year to come when found on Christmas morning.

In Norway, it is believed that unless all of the brooms in each house are not hidden, they will be stolen and used by evil spirits and witches to ride on through the night.

In England, their strange custom is that whilst stirring the ingredients of a Christmas pudding, you can make a wish but only if it is stirred in a clockwise manner. Additionally, the English take to the waters of the Serpentine Lake on Christmas morning, braving the freezing temperatures.

Because funeral notices are usually written in red, the Japanese consider it bad luck to send red Christmas cards or envelopes.

The Italians decorate small wooden pyramids with fruit, instead of putting tinsel and decorations on a Christmas tree.

Pere Noel is Santa Clause in Belgium but they have a second Santa, St Nicholas, who spies on the children, determining the good ones.

The Brazilians believe that when Jesus was born, the animals around the manger spoke, and that the shepherds were women.

The Estonians gather their families together and visit the sauna: this is one of their oldest traditions.

The Latvians do not get presents just on Christmas Day but for twelve days in a row. Their presents are delivered by Big Zimmer, their Santa. In Latvia they celebrate the re-birth of the Sun Maiden, not the birth of Jesus.

An ugly witch called La Befane distributes presents to the children in the town of Urbania in Italy. This is because the Vatican could not prove the existence of Santa Clause, so they convinced the children that witches delivered presents.

Alter boys go around Remedios in Cuba, banging pots and pans, to remind the locals to go to midnight mass.

Strange Christmas traditions from around the world


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