Christmas is a season of celebration and fun that is observed in many ways around the world. From hanging spiderweb decorations to eating deep-fried caterpillars, some fascinating customs are practised by different cultures. In this blog post, we will take a whistlestop tour around the globe to explore some of these seasonal traditions.
In Venezuela, it is customary to roller-skate to church on Christmas day. This tradition has become so popular that the streets are closed to enable everyone – young and old – to enjoy the fun safely. It is also common for children to tie a piece of string to their big toe and hang the other end out of the window. Passing roller-skaters pull on the strings to wake the children up on Christmas morning.
A popular tradition in Ukraine is to decorate Christmas trees with spiders’ webs. The origins of this custom are said to come from a folktale about a poor widow who could not afford to decorate the pine tree in her garden for Christmas. The spiders who lived in her house heard the widow and her children crying, and during the night they adorned the tree with their webs. The next morning, as the sun shone on the cobwebs, they turned to gold and silver.
In Japan, rather than enjoying mince pies and turkey, it is traditional to eat Kentucky Fried Chicken. This is thanks to a marketing campaign which was first launched in 1974 and proved to be extremely popular. Today, the demand for festive fried chicken is so high that people place their orders months in advance.
An even more unusual Christmas dinner is enjoyed in South Africa, where deep-fried Emperor moth caterpillars are considered a delicacy. These crunchy Christmas snacks are said to be quite nutritious and have a flavour reminiscent of tea.
In the city of Gävle, Sweden, a huge Yule Goat made from straw is built and displayed from the first Sunday in Advent until after the New Year. Known as the Gävle goat, it is 13m high, 7m wide and weighs 3 tonnes. Tens of thousands of visitors flock to Gävle to see the goat, but it can also be viewed from around the world via a webcam.
In Mexico, Las Posadas is a religious festival that takes place from 16 to 24 December. It commemorates Joseph and Mary’s search for a place to stay in Bethlehem where Jesus could be born. The word posada means ‘inn’ or ‘lodging’ and the festivities include processions, music, food and drink, plus the breaking of piñatas.
A popular feature of Christmas in the Philippines is Ligligan Parul (the Giant Lantern Festival) which is held in the city of San Fernando. This involves processions with huge colourful lanterns often measuring 15ft in diameter. These lanterns, known as parols, are shaped like stars and are said to symbolise the Star of Bethlehem. As a result, San Fernando is known as ‘the Christmas Capital of the Philippines’.
This is just a snapshot of the many Christmas traditions that are observed around the world. But one thing they all have in common is that they bring people together in the spirit of joy and celebration.
We wish you a very happy Christmas from everyone at Rose Calendars!