Christmas is such a magical time of the year and we all have our own traditions during the festive season. Whether it’s hanging a certain decoration on the tree, watching a film, going to Church on Christmas Eve, or perhaps even spreading joyful cheer while carol singing. Each celebration is wonderfully unique, and some are more commonly seen in different places around the world than others…
UK - Stir up Sunday
Popular in the UK, the centuries old tradition first started in the Victorian Era when each member of the family would take a stir of the Christmas pudding mix to bring good fortune to the household. Taking place on the last Sunday before advent, the Christmas pudding mix is made and stirred and is believed to be named after the words of the Book of Common Prayer: "Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people". Learn more about this tradition in our recipe journal >>
Wales - Taffy making
The Welsh custom of taffy making takes used to take place on Christmas Eve while families awaited the Plygain service. Dollops of toffee that had been boiled in pans on the open fire would be dropped into icy cold water. It would then be watched in anticipation to see the shapes it would form and if letters were created, it was believed that the initial would be the name of the unmarried family members’ future betrothed.
Sweden - Gävle goat
A 13-metre-tall Yule Goat has been constructed in the centre of Gävle’s Castle Square during the advent countdown since 1966. Although this tradition has led to the creation of another, as people try to burn it down! Since it started, the Yule Goat has been successfully burned down 29 times, the last time of which was in 2016.
Austria – Krampus
A rather unusual tradition and one more reminiscent of Halloween than Christmas as St. Nicholas’ evil accomplice, Krampus - a scary, beast like creature scares children and punishes the naughty ones.
Iceland – Jolabokaflod
As paper was one of the few things that was rationed in Iceland during World War II, the tradition of gifting a book began. Today, all presents are gifted on the 24th of December, with a book being the final present opened. Then everyone grabs a cup of hot chocolate, snuggles up in a blanket and spends the rest of the evening reading.
Philippines - Giant lantern festival
Originally the lanterns for the festival were only half a metre in size and created from Japanese origami paper then lit by candle. However, today, they are around six metres in size, made in a variety of materials and illuminated by electric bulbs that sparkle a kaleidoscope of patterns. Taking place each year on the Saturday before Christmas Eve, the tradition takes place in the city of San Fernando, also known as the ‘Christmas capital of the Philippines’ and welcomes spectators from all over the world!
Colombia - Day of the little candles
This day, also known as Día de las Velitas marks the start of the Christmas season in Colombia, where people place candles in paper lanterns around their homes to honour the miraculous conception of the Virgin Mary. As many traditions have, this has significantly grown with entire towns and cities now glowing with elaborate displays.
Scotland - Burning branches of a rowan tree
In Scotland, the branches of a Rowan tree is a popular tradition as it is thought that any negativity with friends or family are removed as the wood is consumed by the fire and ensures a happy year ahead!
Portugal - Consoda
As the table is set for Christmas dinner in Portugal, families celebrate the custom of ‘consoda’, laying out extra places for deceased relatives and is believed to bring good luck to the family.
New Zealand – Pōhutukawa tree
Much like the UK, New Zealanders celebrate Christmas in very traditional ways, such as decorating the tree, gifting presents and having a dinner with family and friends. However, much like Australia as its Christmas day falls during their summer time. As a result there are some very interesting variations including; having a Christmas dinner BBQ, decorating the Pōhutukawa tree and leaving beer as well as pineapple chunks for Santa and his reindeer!
Japan – Unorthodox dinner
Christmas isn’t a widely celebrated event in Japan and because of this, there are few traditions associated with the day. However, in more recent years the Christmas Day feast for many people has consisted of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC). The growth of the new custom is even being recognised by the fast-food chain as they launch a specific festive menu including a Christmas-themed standard bucket of a premium roast-bird feast.
What are your favourite Christmas traditions? Let us know in the comments below…