Christmas is a time when people revert to family traditions and customs passed down from generation to generation. Some traditions are specific to certain religions, countries or ethnicities, some are just family traditions passed down through the years, but either way, it’s a time when sentimental habits take centre stage as families recreate age-old traditions with their children. We decided to take a look at unique Christmas traditions (some old and some modern) from around the world as we head towards Christmas Day:
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BLACK PETE (NETHERLANDS)
Whilst most of the world awaits the arrival of Santa Clause, the Dutch believe Santa has a sidekick named Black Pete. Celebrated early – on the 6thof December – the children of the Netherlands place hay and sugar in their shoes for Black Pete’s horses. In exchange for being good all year, Black Pete leaves candy and nuts for all the good boys and girls.
ROLLERBLADING TO CHURCH (VENEZUELA)
On Christmas eve in Caracas, Venezuela, the locals head to church on roller skates. This has become such a popular tradition that the roads of Caracas are closed to cars to ensure their safety as they head to and from church.
CHRISTMAS DINNER (FRANCE)
After Christmas eve dinner, the French head off to bed but without cleaning up – they leave the fire burning as well as food and drinks on the table, with the hopes that Virgin Mary will visit during the night. Whilst children in France generally open their gifts on Christmas morning, adults traditionally open and exchange gifts on New Year’s Day.
FANCY DRESS FESTIVITIES (AUSTRIA)
In Austria, Christmas is a very festive time, and many make use of costumes to share even more Christmas cheer. Men, woman and children alike dress up as Santa Clause, elves and even reindeer’s. In Austrian tradition, good boys and girls are rewarded by St. Nicholas, while his evil nemesis, Krampus is said to come looking for the naughty boys and girls.
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SOME IDEAS FOR FAMILY TRADITIONS YOU CAN START AT HOME
Instead of Advent Calendars, create a note per day of something to be grateful for.
Hide the last Christmas gifts and provide a set of clues to find it to prolong the Christmas present fun.
Make hot chocolate in a flask with mince pies and Christmas treats and take a drive to look at all the houses who have put up festive lights – this is particularly festive for those who live in estates.
Bake Granola as reindeer food and sprinkle it in the garden with your children (remember to steer clear of glitter and any toxic, non-environmentally friendly ingredients as little birds may come and share in the reindeer feast).
Make a reverse advent box, and every day place one item of food or basic necessities in the box to gift to someone on Christmas Day who otherwise may have nothing to eat.
Create a special family meal or desert which becomes an annual tradition (think trifle with a quirky spin on traditional ingredients).
Take a photo every year in front of the tree, in the same place – possibly even in the same outfits.
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Comment below and let us know of any special family traditions you’ve created or inherited!