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Christmas traditions from around the world

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1 - Christmas around the world

Christmas is an annual festivity celebrated around the world. Traditionally, the holiday is commemorated on the 25th of December, marking the birth of Jesus Christ. Although Christmas has religious origins, it has become more of a cultural holiday celebrated in different parts of the world. Christmas is a time that brings people together when family and friends travel from afar to be with the people they cherish the most. It has become an opportunity to spread joy, love, and gratitude. Unlike the typical Christmas celebrations portrayed in Hollywood movies, other countries have unique ways of observing the holiday.

  1. Krampus Parade in Austria

Everyone is familiar with ‘ol St. Nick, also known as Santa Claus, the father of Christmas. But have you ever heard of a Bad Santa? Krampus is a prominent figure in Central and Eastern European folklore known to scare misbehaving children during the Advent season. In Austria, the Krampus parade takes place at night, either on the eve of, or on St. Nicholas Day, which takes place on the 5th of December. Marchers are addressed in scary costumes with horns, demonic masks, whips, and torches, along with other entertainers who do acrobats and juggling tricks on the streets. Krampus also comically flick their whips at spectators as part of the show.

  1. Kentucky for Christmas in Japan

Christmas is not considered a national holiday in Japan, since the majority of the country practices Shinto and Buddhism. However, the country has created its own unique way of celebrating Christmas. In 1974, KFC launched the “Kentucky for Christmas” campaign, where they first released their “bucket” meals. Ever since, many Japanese celebrate Christmas by eating fried chicken with their friends and family. If you go to Japan during the holiday season, don’t be surprised to see Colonel Sanders dressed as Santa selling fried chicken to the locals.

  1. A four-month long Christmas season in the Philippines

The season for Christmas or Pasko in the Philippines usually starts in September, when it is normal to hear Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas” played in malls and shops. One of the symbols of Christmas in the country is called the parol, which is a bamboo-framed star lantern decorated with colorful Japanese paper. It is meant to imitate the star that led the three wise men to the birth of Jesus. The Filipinos await Christmas day by attending Misa de Gallo, or night masses that take place a few days before Christmas. On Christmas Eve, families host a large, festive dinner celebration called Noche Buena, where extended family members and even neighbors are invited. Instead of sleeping early, children and adults usually stay up until midnight to await the coming of Jesus on Christmas day.  

  1. Día de las velitas in Colombia

A day called “Day of the Little Candles” is celebrated on the 7th of December in Colombia, which is the eve of the Immaculate Conception holiday, marking the beginning of the Christmas season. Colombians would light up their homes with white and colorful candles or velas,as well as paper lanterns. The celebration has been celebrated at a much larger scale throughout the years, accompanied by music and fireworks, creating a fascinating spectacle of light and fire. It is also a popular practice to make a wish for each candle lit.

  1. A January Christmas in Ethiopia

Ethiopia is one of the only countries in the world that follows its own calendar system. Because they have a 13-month calendar, they celebrate holidays on different occasions compared to the rest of the world. Ethiopians celebrate Christmas or Ganna on the 7th of December. Many people welcome the Advent season with a fast, known as the ‘Fast of the Prophets’ or Tsome Nebiyat, which starts 43 days before Christmas, where they eat one vegan meal a day. On Christmas day, they wear white garments, whereas most dress in their traditional clothing called netala.  

Roselle Torres

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