The holidays is celebrated everywhere and there are different Christmas traditions around the world. But it is known by many that Christmas time means putting up Christmas trees in our houses, seeing Santa Claus at malls, and the sounds of Christmas carolers in the air. It means seeing red, gold and green everywhere. The mood is festive and busy as everyone is preparing for the most wonderful time of the year.
But not everyone puts up Christmas trees in their houses, nor do they have Santa Claus walking around their vicinity. Some traditions involve scary stories, while others involve parades and festivals. Christmas traditions around the world vary, and here are 5 that are quite unique yet widely popular around the world.
Junkanoo Festival in Bahamas
The Bahamians definitely know how to throw a festive holiday tradition with their Junkanoo Festival. Though it happens after Christmas day, December 26, the Junkanoo Festival is somehow accepted as a Christmas tradition since this is the most anticipated event in the Bahamas during December.
People gather around where a parade filled with colorful outfits and costume, dance and music fill the streets. It is a celebration of cultural expression, one that is beautifully shared to everyone during this time of the year.
Viyahe tip: Catch the Junkanoo Festival this year at Nassau where the biggest celebration takes place.
Night Mass in the Philippines
The Philippines is known for their Simbang Gabi (Night Mass), a nine-day mass devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary and to welcome the birth of Jesus Christ. Devotees wake up at the crack of dawn and head to their nearest Catholic church to hear mass. It is believed that when one finishes the nine days, all prayers are heeded and will be answered.
These days, Simbang Gabi masses are now allowed at 8 in the evening rather than the usual 4:00 am. But the practice in heading to Simbang Gabi in the early mornings is still as popular as it once was.
Viyahe tip: Vendors outside the churches sell different Filipino Christmas treats after the mass. Try the puto bumbong, a steamed purple rice cake with grated coconut. Other delicacies to try are bibingka, suman and the popular hot chocolate that is richly thick and bitter but perfect with the treats.
Hidden Brooms in Norway
Norway has a different Christmas tradition one might find interesting. There, brooms are hidden on Christmas Eve. This is because Norwegians believe that evil spirits and witches come out during this time to steal their brooms and use them to ride on it.
Whether or not this is true, it is interesting to note that Norwegians keep their brooms away from plain sight during this time of the year.
Viyahe tip: Greet folks in Norway with a ‘God Jul’ or ‘Gledelig Jul’ which means ‘Merry Christmas’.
A Different Christmas Day in Egypt
Many are used to celebrating Christmas on December 25, the known date of birth of Jesus Christ. But in Egypt where they follow the Coptic Church and have a different calendar than the Catholic ones, they celebrate Jesus Christ’s birthday on January 6.
Fasting is also followed for 43 days prior to their Christmas Eve. They head to church and hear mass, and afterwards, celebrate with friends and family with lots and lot of good food.
Viyahe tip: During the celebrations, try out the kahk, traditional Egyptian cookies that are made during happy celebrations like Christmas.
Krampus in Austria
If Santa Claus is known to be giving out gifts during Christmas, meet his evil counterpart, Krampus, who is known to capture kids who have been naughty.
In Austria, Krampus is just as symbolic as Santa Claus and people dress up as the evil Krampus to remind children to behave. It might be a scary little reminder but Austria’s Christmas tradition is a nice balance in teaching kids why being good is always better.
Viyahe tip: Christmas in Austria officially starts around 4:00 pm on December 24. Trees are lit and Christmas carols are sung. ‘Silent Night’ is the most popular song as it was written in Austria back in 1818.