Christmas Traditions Around the World

Our traditions is what makes Christmas special. Some traditions are small and unique to our families, some are more common traditions shared which most people who celebrate Christmas do. But there are so many interesting traditions around the world that you might not have heard of.

Yule Goat in Sweden

With it’s routes in Paganism, the Yule Goat, or Gävle Goat, stands proudly in the same place every year in Sweden, typically 42 feet high, 23 feet wide, and weighs 3.6 tons, made from hay. The goat is supposed to represented the spirit of Christmas. The goat is built on the first day of Advent in late November or early December and intended to stand for the holiday season as a part of Yule celebrations.

KFC for Dinner in Japan

Yes, that’s right. It is common for people in Japan to have KFC instead of a roast for their Christmas dinner. Christmas is not widely celebrated in Japan but after a successful marketing campaign by KFC in 1974, called “Kurisumasu ni wa kentakkii!” or “Kentucky for Christmas!”, the fast food chain has grown in popularity during this time. Many people place their order months in advance.

Shoes Instead of Stockings in Iceland

While here in the UK, we place our stockings on our fireplace or at the foot of our beds, in Iceland children put shoes on the window for the 13 Yule Lads to leave their gifts (typically sweets), if they were good or rotten potatoes in they were bad.

Christmas Porridge in Finland

Typically, on Christmas morning in Finland they eat a porridge, made of rice and milk topped with cinnamon, milk, or butter with a hidden almond inside the pudding. Whoever finds the almond “wins”.

A Warm Christmas in New Zealand

Due to the timing of Christmas, it is often quite warm and sunny in New Zealand. So it’s common for people to have barbeques with families and friends with fresh seafood, meat and vegetables. And instead of our typically fir Christmas trees, the New Zealand Christmas tree is the Pohutukawa, that blooms a gorgeous red colour in December.

Nisser in Denmark

Before the traditional Christian celebration of Christmas came to Denmark. This time of year was to celebrate the brighter days known as jól. Today, Danish homes are decorated with Nisser, a Nordic mythological creature similar in appearance to a Gnome or Gonk, to provide their homes with protection. On Christmas Eve, the Christmas tree is put in the middle of the room and people dance and sing around them

A Little Christmas in Norway

Starting from the 3rd of December, the people of Norway celebrate a little Christmas called julebord. This usually fills up all the local bars and restaurants as people celebrate their own rituals with their friends and families. Typically decorating the tree, making gingerbread houses and eating risengrynsgrøt (hot rice pudding).

The First Star in Poland

In Poland, Christmas Eve dinner may not begin until the first star of the night appears in the sky. The tradition commemorates the Star of Bethlehem, which in the New Testament, the Wise Men followed to the birthplace of Jesus. Families also often share a oplatek, an unleavened religious wafer, breaking off pieces for each other as they wish them a happy Christmas.