Lights, decorations, pastries and Christmas carols. Children suddenly becomes good in the hope that an old man with a beard, dressed in red will bring them some gifts. Adults go crazy in order to find a present for everybody, yet they can’t wait to get together with the whole family for the holidays. If Christmas isn’t the most magical time of the year, then what would it be?
There are so many common elements in the celebration of this holiday around the world, from Christmas trees to receiving gifts. Equally numerous (indeed certainly more) are the Christmas traditions that differ from country to country. Some of them are really bizarre, others a little less. Let’s find them out.
The Scandinavian countries are the lands of Christmas par excellence, as Santa Claus lives in Rovaniemi, Finland. Here, the festivities begin when Joulipukki, Santa Claus himself, parades through the streets of Helsinki after the Christmas Declaration of Peace which marks the start of the holidays. The tree is decorated on 23 December with many hand-made decorations. On Christmas Eve, before gathering around the table, it is part of the tradition to take a sauna with the whole family. In the morning, poeple go visit their dead relatives, while the evening ends with the arrival of Santa Claus who knocks directly on the door of the house. In Norway, on the other hand, people dress up as julebukk, or Christmas goat, according to a very ancient folkloric tradition. On the evening of the 23rd, the typical rice pudding is eaten, inside which there is an almond hidden. Whoever finds it receives a gift. In Sweden, tradition has it that the female firstborn dress up as Lussebruden, in honor of Saint Lucia, the one who starts the festivities on 13 December.
In several Eastern countries, the figure of St. Nicholas is accompanied by that of his evil counterpart: Krampus. It is a demon with the appearance of a goat who punishes naughty children. IWe can find him in Slovenia, France, Germany, Austria, Alsace, Croatia, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Switzerland and also in some regions of northern Italy.
There are those who picture Santa Claus surrounded by the snow and those who think of him on a surfboard. Overseas, where the seasons are reversed and landscapes are totally different, Christmas traditions also adapt to high temperatures. In the Caribbean island of Martinique it is impossible to find firs and pines as we know them, so it is the filao tree, also known as the Australian pine, to be decorated. In Australia it is said that Santa Claus, once he arrives there, takes off his heavy clothes not suitable for that climate, and wears shorts. Moreover, he would leave the reindeer to rest and walk around with six white kangaroos, the boomers. While the 25th is celebrated with a nice lunch, as it happens in other countries of the world, on the evening of the 24th (and also the 26th) they often organize barbecues, even on the beach.
In Japan, where Christians can be counted on the palm of one hand, Christmas and its celebrations is nothing more than a commercial gimmick. In fact, it was thanks to a KFC marketing campaign that it was established, a few years ago, the tradition of eating fried chicken on Christmas Eve. 25 December is a normal business day.