Unique Christmas traditions around the world

December 25 is synonymous with Christmas trees, gifts, Santa Claus, cookies and cakes, and more. But, in some countries, Christmas celebrations go beyond the usual. Here’s a look at some countries which celebrate the day in a unique manner.

IRELAND

The Irish keep a tall candle on the window sill overnight as a gesture to welcome the parents of Christ. The candle is a symbol of hospitality and hope. When the Catholics were being persecuted, the candle served as a signal for the priest – to let him know that it was safe for him to enter the home.

ICELAND

From December 12 to Christmas eve, the children place a pair of their shoes on the window sill. Icelandic Santas are called jólasveinar and each of them has his own role and name. The Santas begin to visit houses 13 days before Christmas. After placing the shoe on the window sill the night before, the children wake up to find a gift or a candy (if the kid has been good) or, at times, rotten potatoes and a note (if they did something wrong).

PHILIPPINES

The longest Christmas is celebrated by the Filipinos. Their festivities begin in September. Buildings are decorated with lights. Ligligan Parul, the Giant Lantern Festival in San Fernando city, features lanterns and it symbolises the star of Bethlehem. Children, teens or even adults go from door to door singing Christmas carols and put up an entire show with musical instruments in exchange for gifts or money. From December 16 to Christmas day, they attend mass at the church. According to their belief, if one attends all the nine masses, then their dream will come true. In the Philippines, giving Christmas gifts, especially to children, is considered important.

DENMARK

Before the advent of Christianity in Denmark, Christmas or ‘Jól’ was a celebration of the brighter days. During Christmas, Danish homes are decorated with mythical or supernatural characters. They believe that these supernatural beings provide them with protection. On Christmas eve, they dance around the Christmas tree placed in the centre of the room while singing carols. They also have the common practice of distributing gifts that are placed under the Christmas tree.

FINLAND

Traditionally, Finnish families on Christmas morning eat a porridge made of rice. The dish is topped with milk, cinnamon milk or butter. An almond is placed inside the dish. Whoever gets the almond in their share of food ‘wins’. But families tend to place more than one almond in the dish in order to make the kids happy, as every child might receive one almond each. At the end of the day, Christmas is all about happiness.

AUSTRIA

In Austria, the legend of Krampus is famous. Krampus is a beast-like creature, a companion of St. Nicholas. People dress like Krampus. The children are asked about the good and bad deeds they have done. Children who have done more good deeds are rewarded with nuts, apples and sweets and the other children worry about what Krampus might bring with him when he comes to meet them on Christmas day.