We’ve already seen what kinds of weird and wonderful foods are served around the world at Christmas time, but what other traditions are there? In the UK, when we think of the holiday season, we might associate it with Father Christmas or wrapped presents or fighting someone in Asda for the last box of Quality Street.
We also (for the most part) reserve our main celebrations for December
25th – but a number of countries will celebrate much earlier, with official festivities beginning much earlier in the month. Many places will celebrate on what we know as Christmas Eve. In Columbia, for example, the celebrations begin at midnight on Christmas Eve, and everybody stays up until sunrise on the 25th watching fireworks and unwrapping gifts. On the contrary, some countries don’t celebrate until a whole two weeks later on January 7th!
In a lot of countries, including the UK, Father Christmas (or Santa) visits all the good kids and gives them something they’ve picked out of the Argos catalogue. But, in other parts of the globe, he is accompanied by somebody who deals with the bad children. Krampus, a figure present in Germanic folklore, punishes little brats – sometimes by capturing them and taking them to hell. Bit extreme, but hey.
In Slovenia, Krampus is known as Parkelj, and he visits earlier on in December with St. Nicholas. He is still used in the modern day as a warning for disobedient kids to behave during the festive season, lest they want to end up with coal on Christmas Day.
On the other side of the globe in the Philippines, there are slightly cheerier traditions, as Christmas carols can be heard as early as September (and I thought we were bad for having them in November). In fact, the country has earned the recognition of having the longest Christmas season on the planet. On December 16th, a nine day mass begins – sometimes at 4am. Oil lamps are lit to symbolise those used by worshippers to light their way to church in the morning.
Some places don’t get a chance to celebrate Christmas at all! The map above shows all the places where it’s not a national holiday. Interestingly enough, the regions of Hong Kong and Macau in China have a public holiday on the 25th – but everyone in the surrounding regions has to work as usual!
All I can say is, I’m quite happy with my Yorkshire puddings and my Christmas stocking. And I’ll take annoying carols over a flesh-eating demon any day. But, however you celebrate, I hope you have a good one this year!
Yesterday’s post: I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day
Tomorrow’s post: Winter World Records