We’re so excited for the holiday season this year! With all the fun traditions and family events happening, we want to explore how people around the world celebrate the holidays too. From the festive Christmas markets in the UK to delicious Japanese Christmas cake to the famous Yule Lads in Iceland. We’ve curated a list of the coolest holiday traditions around the world. Check it out below!
Winter Markets in the UK
If you’ve been in the UK during the holiday season, you know their Christmas and holiday markets are the best of the best. These pop-up markets are usually found near the city center and feature local treats and well-known favorites from the area. Pick up English drinks like mulled wine, traditional treats like mince pies, or a collection of finger-licking pastries, nuts, and other goodies. At most winter markets, you can also shop for holiday gifts, enjoy live performances, and ride carnival-type rides.
Perhaps the most well-known holiday market in the UK is London’s Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park. No matter where you are in the UK though, you’re likely to be walking distance - or at least a train ride’s distance - to a Winter Market! Learn more about these markets at VisitEngland.
Image via VisitEngland
Delicious Christmas Cake in Japan
One of the holiday traditions Japan is known for is for their delicious holiday cake: kurisumasu keki. This cake is typically a light and airy sponge cake topped with whipped cream and strawberries. A small Santa Claus figurine is usually placed on top too. This tasty treat is a symbol of prosperity; resulting from the aftermath of World War II and the blending of western and Japanese cultures. Today the Japanese Christmas Cake is so well known it’s even an emoji on all iPhones!
Want to make a Japanese Christmas Cake as part of your holiday tradtions this year? Check out this recipe from The Spruce Eats to give it a try.
Image via TheSpruceEats
Yule Lads in Iceland
In Icelandic culture, they celebrate 13 Yule Lads that act as Santa Claus-type figures. For each of the 13 days leading up to Christmas the Yule Lads will each take a turn visiting good little boys and girls.
Children place their shoes by the windowsill hoping for treats and goodies; for the kids who have been good that year, they get candy, small gifts, and other treats. Children who have not been good get a shoe full of rotting potatoes!
The Yule Lads act as a reminder for Icelandaic children to be on their best behavior throughout the year to get goodies and treats during the holidays.
Image via AllAboutIceland
Los Posadas in Mexico
In Mexican culture, Christmas celebrations officially start on December 16th with Los Posadas and go until December 24th. This cultural celebration renacts the Biblical story of Mary and Joseph and their trek to Bethlehem and search for an inn to stay. The tradition involves singing Christmas carols, lighting candles and luminaries, breaking pinatas, and enjoying shared meals. On each of the nine nights leading up to Christmas day, a different quality of Mary and Joseph, and the Biblical story, will be celebrated: humility, strength, detachment, charity, trust, justice, purity, joy, and generosity.
Image via LatinBayArea
Santa Claus and Krampus in Austria
In Austria, children have more than just Santa Claus to worry about pleasing; they also have to worry about Krampus, St. Nick’s evil archrival, and a scary looking half-goat, half-demon figure. In Austrian culture, Santa Claus rewards good children with toys, candy, and treats, but bad children get more than just a lump of coal. Bad children would be taken into Krampus’ sack and taken away into the snow never to be seen again, so the legend says. Today both figures of Santa Claus and Krampus are more tame but the tradition remains.
Image via TheDailyMeal
Now that you know all about holiday traditions from around the world, it’s time to make sure you have all the gifts prepped for your holiday celebrations! The good news is we are having our Year-End Sale with over 40% OFF sitewide when you use code: 40Swim. Better hurry, these deals won’t last long!
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Cover Photo by Sebi Pintilie from Pexels