Holiday Traditions Around the World
As 2022 draws to a close, we are wishing you the brightest of holiday seasons and the happiest New Year. For a bit of fun we have compiled some holiday traditions around the world for you to learn about!
Austria & Germany
Santa Claus’s evil counterpart, Krampus, is known for leaving lumps of coal in children’s stockings and scaring children into being good, though the origin story varies in different European countries. In parts of Austria and Germany, Krampusnacht is the night when parents dress up to frighten their children, usually drunk dads in scary costumes. While in medieval England, it was believed that children who received coal were lucky because they were made poor by God.
Kwanzaa is a newer tradition started in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga to celebrate life and culture by African Americans. The name Kwanzaa comes from the phrase ‘matunda ya kwanza’ meaning ‘first fruits’ in Swahili. The seven day celebration takes place during the last week of the year and like Hanakuhh, candles are lit for each day. This nonreligious tradition is aimed to honor African American’s roots alongside family and friends with food, music, and gift giving.
Down in the southern hemisphere, Christmas is celebrated on the beaches of Australia during summer break. A wholesome story from 1938 has become a spectacular annual performance at midnight of Christmas Eve. Carols by Candlelight was founded by Norman Banks during his walk home when he spotted a lone woman singing carols to the radio through a candlelight window of her home. For those who spend Christmas alone, he organized Carols by Candlelight for people to come together to sing songs holding a single light.
Spain & Latin America
Have you heard of the Spanish tradition of the twelve lucky grapes? Las doce uvas de la suerte has a debatable origin but was popularized in 1909 when produce farmers in Alicante had a surplus of grapes. When the clock strikes twelve marking the beginning of a new year, you must eat all twelve grapes, representing each month, before the last bell for good luck in the new year. If you’re not near a church bell or at home prepared with grapes, don’t worry, many restaurants and bars are prepared for this tradition across South and Central America.
Over in Japan, Colonel Sanders has an important role in the secular celebration of Christmas. A Kentucky Fried Chicken marketing campaign successfully convinced the citizens of Japan that a bucket of fried chicken was the traditional American Christmas dinner.
Happy Holidays from Bell & Bly Travel!