Wonderful Holiday Traditions From Around the World

ornament‘Tis the season for a host of holiday celebrations with family and friends.  To help stimulate conversation while gathering around the yule log, Christmas tree, unity cup or menorah, we have collected some fun and interesting facts about holiday traditions from around the world. We hope you enjoy!


krampus image
An image of Krampus from 1896.

Austria – In contrast to Saint Nicholas who rewards good children with gifts, little ones in Austria are on the lookout for Krampus, a horned, demon-like figure who punishes children who have misbehaved.
South Africa – Some celebrate
Christmas Day by eating deep-fried caterpillars of the Emperor moth.
Japan – If caterpillars aren’t your thing, you may prefer the Japanese tradition. While not a national holiday, many residents there celebrate the day by eating buckets of “Christmas Chicken” from KFC.
India – Those who celebrate Christmas in India do so by decorating mango or banana trees.  Some even decorate their homes with mango leaves.
Iceland – “13 Yule Lads” arrive two weeks before Christmas Day and before departing will deposit small gifts in children’s shoes left on windowsills.
Père Noël image
Père Noël

France – Instead of the windowsill, children in France put their shoes by the fireplace so that “Père Noël” can fill them with gifts.
Spain – Children in Catalonia have to work a little harder for their gifts.  Here they decorate and care for the “Tió de Nadal” log.  On Christmas day, the log is placed in the fireplace and beaten with sticks until small gifts drop out.
Finland – One of the local customs includes visiting the cemetery on Christmas Eve to commemorate relatives and loved ones who have died.  Families also lunch on porridge with an almond hidden inside. Whoever finds the almond sings a song.
Great Britain – Instead of a mail box, many children send their gift wishes to Father Christmas by throwing the list in the back of the fireplace and hoping the draft carries them up and to the North Pole.
Germany – Tradition calls for a pickle to be hidden inside the Christmas tree and the first child that sees it Christmas morning receives a gift.
Italy – La Befana is a tradition that has been celebrated in Italy for centuries. To mark the end of the long holiday season, on January 5 the good witch La Befana leaves toys and treats in the stockings of good boys and girls, while the not-so-nice may receive lumps of coal in the form of black sugar.
La Befana image
La Befana, The Good Italian Witch

Wherever you are and whatever your favorite holiday tradition this time of year, all of us at ASIST Translation Services wish you a very joyous holiday season!

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