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Cultural Christmas Traditions That Will Help You Experience the World

Christmas is one of the most widely celebrated holidays that comes to mind when I think about how many people believe in the gift of giving during times of need and appreciation during the holiday season. 

Even though not all countries and regions celebrate Christmas, they may celebrate Hannakuah or the other Jewish and Islamic holidays, but this time of year is truly celebrated all over the world. 

After consulting with family and friends, I have compiled a list of the most unique and interesting Christmas and holiday traditions around the world. 

1. Japan

Since Japan is not technically a national holiday in Japan like it is in America, the Japanese take this holiday and make it theirs with a very interesting and strange twist. To us, Americans, KFC is the best (in my opinion) fried chicken fast food place that is accessible amongst all of the 50 states, but in Japan, KFC is one of their favorite restaurants to eat at. On Christmas in Japan, Japanese families gather around the table with a bucket of fried chicken, and maybe some of their famous biscuits, macaroni and cheese, or mashed potatoes, while some of us experience the baked ham or turkey. Shockingly, this tradition is not that new as it started to become popular in 1974 after an advertisement that aired in Japan that said “Kurisumasu ni wa kentakkii!” which translates to “Kentucky for Christmas!” KFC truly never thought about how successful that international marketing advertisement would be! 

2. Iceland

Iceland, known as the land of being the exact opposite of what the name means, has a very strange twist to the 12 Days of Christmas experience. Instead of 12 Days, they celebrate 13. On the 13th day, Icelandic children are said to be visited by Yule Lads, which give them candy if they have made the nice list, and rotten potatoes if they have made the naughty list. 

3. Ireland

Growing up with my father being an Irish citizen since his family was born there, he always followed the most well-known Irish Christmas tradition. With the heavy influence of Catholicism in almost every Irish tradition, the Irish leave a tall red candle on their windowsills, as a symbol of warmth and comfort during the holiday season. 

4. Austria

Like many European countries, they tend to have more controversial traditions, specifically those in which people scare children. In Austria, Krampus joins the tradition as being the Sata that handles the naughty children. For example, on December 6, children are asked to make a list of their good and bad actions of the year; the good children received sweets, apples, and nuts, but the bad children need to worry and see what Krampus will give them on Christmas morning, and it will not be a bag of coal. 

5. The Philippines

Every Saturday before Christmas, the Philippines host a Giant Lantern Festival, usually in San Fernando, in which they take eleven villages to take part in the festival and competition to who can build the most beautiful and unique lantern of the year. 

6. Norway

Norweigan Christmas traditions are some of the weirdest ones I have heard about. The weirdest one, by far, has to be where they hide their brooms. These traditions first began when witches and evil spirits were known to come on Christmas Eve night looking for brooms to use for traveling. 

7. The United States (Washington D.C.)

Since I am from the wonderful and weird state of New Jersey, I never knew this tradition occurred in the D.C. area for those of us who are members of the Jewish faith. Since 1979, there is the lighting of an almost 30 foot tall Menorah during the eight days and nights during the celebration of Hannakuah. 

I hope you guys enjoy this list and possibly try these out and make them your own! Happy Holidays! 

Ivy Bourke

St. John's '23

Campus Correspondent for St. John's. I am a Sports Management major with a concentration in Business Administration, and a minor in Journalism. My passion for writing has never dulled so I hope to always use this passion for entertainment, and change.
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