Home » How do Christmas traditions vary around the world? See the photos

How do Christmas traditions vary around the world? See the photos

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For a lot of, Christmas is a time of present exchanges, log desserts and turkey dinners.

However that is not the case all over the place.

In a yearly collection, CNBC Journey highlights various Christmas celebrations around the globe.


Christmas comes with a spooky twist in Austria, Germany and different Alpine international locations that remember St. Nicholas Day through the first week of December.

“Krampuslauf,” which interprets to “Krampus run” in German, is an annual parade sometimes held on Dec. 5 or 6 the place members gown up because the half-goat, half-demon Krampus to frighten onlookers.

Krampus costumes usually include a masks, horn, coat manufactured from sheep or goat wool, in addition to chains, bells and a rod, in line with Helen Bitschnau, a consultant of the Austrian Nationwide Vacationer Workplace.

Jure Makovec | Afp | Getty Photos

As legend has it, Krampus accompanies St. Nick on his journey to offer well-behaved kids presents, in line with Helen Bitschnau, a consultant of the Austrian Nationwide Vacationer Workplace.

Kids who’ve been unhealthy, nonetheless, face Krampus’ wrath. “The perform of the Krampus is to punish the whole lot unhealthy by way of a rod or a horse’s tail,” Bitschnau mentioned.

A mixture of anticipation, pleasure and a few nervousness fills the air on Krampuslauf, Bitschnau mentioned.

“When you have been good all year long — there’s actually nothing to be anxious about,” she mentioned.

Bitschnau added that she has “all the time been frightened of Krampus.”

“Now I wish to go to the Krampuslauf in my hometown, as a result of I do know all of the individuals behind the Krampus costumes [which] makes it rather less scary for me.”

Oaxaca, Mexico

Yearly on Dec. 23, members gather in Oaxaca’s main square to enter delicately carved radishes into the “Night time of the Radishes” competitors.

These aren’t any bite-sized radishes — they are often as large as a child’s leg.

“Artists spend total days carving the radishes for the competitors, soaking them consistently so they will not dry out,” mentioned Ileana Jimenez, who was born and raised in Oaxaca.

Winners of the radish-carving contest are awarded small money prizes, mentioned resident Ileana Jimenez.

Patricia Castellanos | Afp | Getty Photos

“There are queues of individuals patiently ready for his or her flip to go in and admire the sumptuous job [of] the Oaxacan artisans,” she mentioned.

The environment on the Zocalo, Oaxaca’s city sq., is jubilant with dwell music, fireworks and swarms of locals and vacationers, mentioned Jimenez.

“It is a occasion that retains individuals’s spirits up.”

Gavle, Sweden

Standing 42 feet tall and weighing more than 7,000 pounds, a large handmade straw goat is an annual Christmas spectacle within the Swedish metropolis of Gavle.

This yr’s goat took greater than 1,000 hours to construct, mentioned Anna-Karin Niemann, a spokesperson for the particular committee that protects the goat.

The Gavle goat is shifting to a brand new location this yr for the primary time in 56 years, in line with Go to Gavle, town’s customer’s information.

Mats Astrand | Afp | Getty Photos

Although it is a crime to burn or destroy it, the goat of Gavle has been subjected to numerous arson attacks because the first one was in-built 1966.

The arsonist who broke the final goat’s four-year survival streak was sentenced to 6 months in jail and ordered to pay 109,000 Swedish kronor ($10,450) in damages, in line with a Swedish news outlet.

Sweden’s treasured goat determine is constructed with straw regardless of its flammability, as a result of “it is custom,” Niemann mentioned.

“He means rather a lot for us in Gavle, and he is a giant a part of the Christmas spirit,” she mentioned.

Miniature variations of the goat make for enjoyable souvenirs or Christmas ornaments for vacationers, mentioned Mark Wolters, the creator of the favored journey YouTube channel Wolters World.

These concerned with how this yr’s goat is doing can observe it via a live webcam.

Ukraine by way of Krakow, Poland

A stall on the Ukrainian Christmas market in Krakow, Poland.

Omar Marques | Anadolu Company | Getty Photos

Gross sales from the Christmas market offered the refugees, most of whom have been feminine, with earnings to make ends meet, mentioned Tarik Argaz, a consultant of the U.N. Refugee Company.

The market was attended by locals, vacationers, and the Ukrainian neighborhood, he mentioned.

It was a chance to showcase the “nice expertise inside the refugee neighborhood,” Argaz mentioned, including that the concept for the occasion was born when U.N. employees members got an “intricately painted” rock by one of many residents at a collective middle, which is an lodging that homes massive numbers of refugees.

The Philippines

Through the festive season, houses in the Philippines are decorated with star-shaped lanterns called “parol,” said travel blogger Kach Umandap, who was born and raised within the Philippines.

Parols have been initially used to gentle the way in which for the custom of Simbang Gabi, a nine-day interval of pre-dawn lots held from Dec. 16 to 24 — in addition to midnight mass on Christmas Eve, referred to as Misa de Gallo, Umandap mentioned.

Academics, college students and fogeys maintain Christmas lanterns made out of recycled supplies throughout a marketing campaign for sustainable Christmas celebrations at an elementary college in Quezon Metropolis, Philippines.

Ted Aljibe | Afp | Getty Photos

“Now, the lanterns are used as decorations,” Umandap mentioned. “Parol symbolizes the victory of sunshine over darkness and hope.”

Some 90% of people living in the Philippines identify as Christians — largely Catholic — in line with Harvard Divinity College. The Philippines stays the one Asian nation the place Christianity is the nationwide faith.

Many Filipinos use supplies like shells, glass and LED lights to make parols brighter and extra colourful, she mentioned.

Umandap, who now lives in Europe, mentioned the lanterns remind her of dwelling.

“After I see them, they [give] me hope that no matter struggles I encounter, they are often conquered,” she mentioned.

Sao Paulo, Brazil

Brazilians love their events, mentioned Bruna Venturinelli, writer of the Brazilian weblog I Heart Brazil. That is why their Christmas parades are “contagiously enjoyable” with “a lot of laughter and pleasure,” she mentioned.

Dressed-up characters dance alongside Santa and his elves, whereas interacting with kids within the crowds, she mentioned.

Brazil’s Christmas parades sometimes characteristic characters from Korvatunturi, a mountainous area in Lapland the place Santa Claus supposedly lives.

Cris Faga | Nurphoto | Getty Photos

“There are a number of Christmas parades all through the districts, that are organized by town council or a non-public establishment to advertise the start of their festive season, just like the shopping center parade depicted within the image,” she mentioned.

“If I am in Brazil throughout Christmas, I take my nephew and niece to a Christmas parade, and now we have a blast! … Additionally they take the chance to say they wrote Santa a letter and behaved nicely via the yr, though the final half shouldn’t be 100% true.”

Many individuals in Brazil will have a good time Christmas Eve with their household by sharing a Chester chicken, she mentioned.

On Christmas Day, individuals collect once more to have leftovers for lunch whereas listening to Brazilian music, she mentioned.

The ‘North Pole’

The fashionable custom of writing letters to Santa might have been began by American Fanny Longfellow, spouse of poet Henry Wadsworth, in line with Smithsonian Magazine.

However to start with, it was Santa who wrote to the kids, reasonably than the opposite means round.

Longfellow wrote letters to her three kids about their habits through the previous yr, in line with the journal.

In certainly one of Longfellow’s letters, courting to 1853, “Santa” mentioned: “[Y]ou have picked up some naughty phrases which I hope you’ll throw away as you’ll bitter or bitter fruit,” in line with the article.

A toddler posts a letter to Santa Claus in Fort Price, Texas.

Richard Rodriguez | Getty Photos Sport | Getty Photos

Because the follow caught on, dad and mom started leaving letters from Santa by the fireside or in a stocking, the place their kids would pen replies in return, it mentioned.

Immediately, the custom of writing to Santa has expanded past the house.

In the US, the U.S Postal Service runs an annual program referred to as Operation Santa the place kids and households in want can write nameless letters to Santa about what they want for Christmas. These letters are “adopted” by individuals across the nation, who purchase and ship the requested presents to the households, in line with the USPS.

The UK’s postal service, Royal Mail, offers personalised replies to kids who write to “Father Christmas.”

However some dad and mom are utilizing different avenues to contact Santa, together with apps and even balloons.

In 2021, a pair of four-year-old twins in Kansas, United States, released balloons that contained letters to Santa. A pair dwelling in Louisiana discovered one, and thru the assistance of donations, fulfilled the dual’s Christmas want lists, which included giving them a pet.

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