Christmas Traditions From Around The World
Think everyone celebrates just like you? Think again.
If you thought that Singapore went all out with Christmas decorations, you should the Philippines at this time of year. Every year, the city of San Fernando holds Ligligan Parul (or Giant Lantern Festival) featuring dazzling parols (lanterns) that symbolize the Star of Bethlehem. Each parol consists of thousands of spinning lights that illuminate the night sky. The festival has made San Fernando the "Christmas Capital of the Philippines."
Similar to the 12 days of Christmas most countries have, Iceland celebrates with an extra day making it to 13. Each night before Christmas, Icelandic children are visited by the 13 Yule Lads. After placing their shoes by the window, the little ones will head upstairs to bed. In the morning, they'll either have received candy (if they're good) or be greeted with shoes full of rotten potatoes if they're bad. That's much worse than the coal most children are threatened with!
Portugal and Brazil
Brazilian and Portuguese families come together on Christmas Eve to eat dinner as late as 10 p.m. Then, at exactly midnight, they exchange gifts, toasts, and wish each other a Merry Christmas. Midnight mass, Missa Do Galo (Rooster Mass), is a chance to meet up with neighbours and extended family to wish them well for the holiday season.
Austria has a truly terrifying legend that a devil-like creature called Krampus joins their St. Nicholas festivities on December 6. Children are asked for a list of their good and bad deeds: Good children are rewarded with sweets, apples, and nuts, and bad children worry what Krampus might bring on Christmas morning. No thanks to that one.
Orthodox Christians in the Ukraine celebrate Christmas Day on January 7 by dressing in traditional garments and walking through town singing carols. A dish called kutya, made of cooked wheat mixed with honey, ground poppy seeds, and sometimes nuts, is a popular Christmas Eve treat. Some families throw a spoonful of kutya at the ceiling: If it sticks, there will be a good harvest in the new year - let's hope there is a tradition to ending the Russian invasion they can try this year.
Before Christianity came to the Danes, Christmas Day was a celebration of brighter days, jól, as it occurred just before winter solstice. Today, homes are decorated with superstitious characters called nisser who are believed to provide protection. On the evening of December 24, Danish families place their Christmas tree in the middle of the room and dance around it while singing carols.
A Christmas table in Barbados isn't complete without a baked ham decorated with pineapple and sorrel glazes, a rum cake, and Jug Jug, a dish inspired by the Scottish influence on the island combining pigeon peas, guinea corn flour, herbs, and salt meat - that's a no from us.
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