Christmas Traditions Around the Globe


Rebecca Clary

Holiday traditions vary widely in our area. They include, among other things, decorating the tree with different types of ornaments.

Charlie Aus and Rebecca Clary

Winter celebrations date back centuries, originally started as a way to harken the change of the season, the holiday now represents something merrier. The celebration has spread its roots everywhere, in different ways for different regions. Through parades, feasts, and music, people all over the globe find unique ways to express their cheer.


In Europe, many nations follow extended celebrations of old Yule traditions. In Iceland, the 13 days leading up to Christmas are met with the arrival of 13 mischievous troll-esque characters. Dubbed “The Yule Lads,” they come to deliver gifts to good children and rotten potatoes to bad ones. For each day of Yule Tide, children will place their best shoes by the window to receive said gifts. Although other celebrations stray from the worn traditional path. Sweden’s “Gävle Goat” tradition dates back to 1966. The yule goat is 13 meters tall and was built in the Gävle’s Castle Square. Another tradition has arisen from the building of the goat. It has become tradition for people to attempt to burn the goat down, a task which has been accomplished 29 times. There is a more unconventional tradition in Norway, where citizens will hide their brooms in their house. An homage to the belief that witches and evil spirits would steal them to ride on.


In the Philippines, a festival sets the streets alight on the Saturday before Christmas Eve. The Giant Lantern festival takes place in the city of San Fernando and consists of competition between eleven villages. Everyone pitches in to build the most elaborate lantern, said lanterns coming up to six meters in size today. The lanterns are brightly lit with bulbs, creating a kaleidoscopic effect. The display draws viewers from all across the globe. Originally the lanterns were made out of Japanese origami paper. Though Japan does not continue this tradition. Unlike the aforementioned countries, Japan holds little significance to the celebration of Christmas. In recent years, however, a new tradition has emerged. Japanese individuals have taken to eating Colonel Sanders Kentucky Fried Chicken for a Christmas Day Feast.


Winter calls for celebrations through many cultures in our history, for both the past and recents years. Each traditional being unique to their own backgrounds, and many that we celebrate overlapping that of other cultures.