10 Christmas Traditions to Steal From Around The World
No matter how you look at it, nearly every family has an array of Christmas traditions they follow every year. From making minced pies to opening advent calendars, the traditions are what help to make the holiday season more exciting. Imagine, what would Christmas be without all of the things your family typically does? It would just be opening presents on a specific day, much like a birthday.
If you’re looking for a few ways to spice up this holiday season, consider these 10 interesting traditions from around the world that you can steal and make your own.
1. House Renovations and Revamps – Jamaica
Don’t worry, there’s no need to break the wallet on this one, but a few small home renovations and revamps can be a great way to get your house ready for the holiday season. In Jamaica, many residents take this season to add a new coat of paint to their house, cut the hedges in their backyard, or do a thorough “winter clean”.
The best part is if you’re hosting a huge dinner or party for your friends or family members, you’ll have a stunning and fresh home to entertain everyone in. There’s no reason as to why your family can’t get together and work to change your living room to a color you’ve always wanted or take the time to get a few stains out of the carpet to revitalize your flooring.
2. Letters to Santa Claus – France
Being able to communicate with Santa is a phenomenal way for children to keep the holiday spirit alive and although he might not respond to the letters, it’s a way for them to reach out the man that brings them phenomenal presents every year. In France, it has been a tradition since 1962 to send letters to Santa. The most interesting thing is according to the law, every letter must be responded to via a postcard from “Santa” himself (or herself).
Even in an area where you might not have an agency or organization that responds to every child’s letter, you can do it yourself! Have your kids write something to Santa and put it in your mailbox then once they fall asleep at night, replace it with a handwritten letter from “Santa” and watch the magic manifest in the morning!
3. Rewarding Carolers with Treats – Greece
If there’s one thing that can be said about Greece, aside from its natural beauty, it’s that they love the holiday season and they certainly love carolers. If you live in an area where a troupe of people typically go from house to house singing a variety of Christmas tunes, consider rewarding them with a treat to thank them for their time like the native Greeks do.
It’s best to leave a tray or basket of chocolates and other goodies by the door so once the songs are finished, the carolers can enjoy a great treat and move onto the next house. In America, we have the tendency to give a brief “Thanks” and stand in our doorways while enjoying the carols, but there’s nothing better than rewarding someone for their effort.
4. Eating Apples on Christmas – China
The idea of having some type of apple dish around the holiday season isn’t strange for most families, as many have apple pies or apple crisp during Christmas Eve dinner. But, did you know that in China families will eat a single apple to signify harmony and goodwill for the new year? This is because the translated term for “apple” sounds similar to “peace” when translated to Mandarin.
5. Celebrate with a Christmas Piñata – Mexico
Nothing quite says “celebration” more than a piñata and in Mexico; it’s a tradition that spans far beyond the holiday season as they are used to celebrate anything from birthdays to anniversaries. As a phenomenal treat for not only children, but adults as well, you can fill it with all of your traditional Christmas sweets and knock one open during a party or a family dinner. We must admit, the best part is watching everyone scramble to pick up all of the best treats that spill out.
6. Hang Up the Mistletoe
As a tradition that started in Britain, mistletoe is relatively well known around the world and it’s a romantic yet innocent way to show your significant other that you care for them. In the past, denying a kiss from whoever walked under the mistletoe with you was considered bad luck!
If you want to take a traditional spin on the hanging of mistletoe, every individual who is given a kiss will be required to pick a berry from the bunch until all of the berries are gone. It’s a phenomenal way to spread love throughout the holiday season and nearly everyone that comes to your home can get involved.
7. Set Up a Fireworks Display – Latin America
Countries such as Brazil and Argentina love to ring in the holiday season with fireworks displays, though this will all depend on your local bylaws pertaining to these explosive visual wonders. Even if you’re not allowed to set off traditional fireworks in your neighborhood, there’s no reason as to why you can’t break out a few innocent sparklers.
Fireworks are a brilliant way to celebrate along with champagne and eggnog to help light up the otherwise dreary winter sky the night before Christmas Day.
8. Musical Chairs with Presents – Belgium
Instead of resorting to the traditional Secret Santa, why not put a twist on your gift giving this year and play musical chairs with presents like they do in Belgium. Also referred to as “musical gifts”, individuals will sit in a circle and pass a gift around the room to music. Once the music stops, whoever is holding onto the gift gets to keep it and open it.
9. Honor Your Loved Ones – Portugal
Known as “Consoda”, in Portugal families will have place settings for family members they have lost over the years. For an even more memorable event, sit around the table with family and reminisce about the best experiences you had with that loved one. There’s absolutely no reason as to why the ones you’ve lost won’t be able to celebrate with you this holiday season.
10. Leaving Shoes by the Fireplace – The Netherlands
On December 5th in the Netherlands, Sinterklaas, the originating figurehead of “Santa Claus” brings gifts to all of the good girls and boys. By leaving a shoe in front of the fireplace, families are able to celebrate the arrival of Sinterklaas and sing songs amongst one another. The following morning, if there is a candy in their shoe it means that Santa made a visit to their home to thank them for their celebrations.
When it comes to Christmas, there is seemingly an unlimited amount of traditions that you can your family can adapt and use to your advantage. From Sinterklaas in The Netherlands to eating an apple on Christmas Day like they do in China, you can always bring some new cheer into your home.