Christmas celebrations take place all over the world and many of them resemble the same traditions we practice here in the United States. But what about those countries with Christmas practices different from ours? How does the rest of the world celebrate Christmas? Here are five new Christmas traditions to try with your family from around the globe!
Iceland: Reading Books
Icelanders love their books, which is why in the weeks leading up to Christmas they buy loads of books to give to their friends and family. This flood of books, called “Jolabokaflod,” is a Christmas tradition that started during World War II when most of the usual gifts were rationed by the government. Today, Icelanders enjoy opening their gifted books on Christmas day and reading them long into the evening. Your family can participate in this new Christmas tradition by simply giving books to each other and reading them!
Mexico: “Noche de Los Rabano”
This creative tradition from Oaxaca, Mexico translates to “Night of the Radishes” and takes place every December 23. It started as a way for market owners to attract customers to their stalls with intricate carvings out of radishes. Now, Oaxaca has dedicated plots of lands for growing radishes and hosts an annual competition for the city’s artists. Pick up some radishes, toothpicks and any other craft materials lying around to try out this new Christmas tradition with your family!
Italy: “La Befana”
This beloved Italian tradition, which takes place the night before January 6 (when Christmas festivities in Italy conclude), coincides with the arrival of the three kings to see Jesus. La Befana, a little old lady who looks like a witch, flies around the world on her broomstick to give good little kids candy and naughty kids coal. Have your kids make their own La Befana before filling up a long “witch’s stocking” with yummy treats.
Costa Rica: Making Tamales
For Costa Ricans, the Christmas season brings entire families together to cook up delicious tamales and share them with their friends. The process of making tamales is quite involved, which is why families divide the labor and assign a task to each member: prepping the banana leaves, chopping vegetables or cooking the filling. The best part of making tamales as a new Christmas tradition? Unwrapping the banana leaves is just like unwrapping a present!
England: Pantomime Performance
During the holidays, almost anywhere in the U.S. you can find carolers in the streets or out front of community centers singing beloved Christmas classics. The same is true in England, but with an additional zany twist: the pantomime, or “panto.” Pantomimes are raucous theatrical performances, usually of a fairytale, with a heavy emphasis on music and audience participation. Audiences can expect gags, slapstick, costumes and lots of dancing. Try out this new Christmas tradition by putting on your own pantomime performance with your family!