We can’t deny it, we love Christmas — leaving cookies and milk out for Santa, the anticipation of Christmas morning and finally the gifts laid under the tree. Why not gather the family together this holiday season and start some new traditions that will last generations? For a little giving-and-receiving inspiration, we’ve taken a look at holiday traditions from around the world…
Did you know that Santa Claus arrives in Holland in November?! According to tradition, St Nick lives in Madrid but comes to Holland by boat on the second Saturday in November. He travels with his helpers, who help him give out gifts.
Children leave a shoe outside their door or window every Saturday of the month for Sinterklaas to leave a treat in until the big celebration on the 5th of December.
December 5th is Sinterklaasavond (or St Nicholas Eve) when families celebrate and children receive their presents. Santa gets back on his ship to return to Madrid on the 6th.
In the 13 nights leading up to Christmas Eve, the Yule Lads visit children throughout Iceland. The Yule Lads are pranksters, said to be descended from trolls, who take turns wreaking havoc during the holidays. Every night kids leave their shoes outside their front door or on a windowsill and the Yule Lads leave a gift for good children or a rotting potato for those on the naughty list!
The tradition has been passed down from Icelandic folklore and has varied through the years. The story has even been used to scare children into good behavior by saying the Lads eat little ones who haven’t been good!
Germany likes to start Christmas early too! Children leave their shoes — traditionally clogs — outside on the night before Nikolaustag (St Nicholas Day, December 6th) for St Nick to leave a present in. They’ll get chocolate, oranges and nuts if they’ve been good and bundles of twigs if they’ve been bad.
On Christmas Eve they’re visited by Weihnachtsmann who looks a lot like Santa and comes bearing gifts.
In Mexico, celebrations start on December 16th with Las Posadas. ‘Posada’ means ‘inn’ in Spanish and during this time, neighborhoods reenact the journey of Mary and Joseph to find shelter.
A posada party is held in one house each night for nine nights with the hosts acting as inn keepers and the guests as pilgrims. The pilgrims sing the posada song outside the house asking to come in. Christmas then lasts until January 6th, which is El Dia de los Reyes or the Day of the Wise Men.
Christmas Eve day in the Czech Republic is when single women find out whether they’ll walk down the aisle in the coming year. They stand with their back towards the front door and throw a shoe over their shoulder.
If it lands pointing towards the door it means she’ll get married. But instead the heel is towards the door, she’ll be single for another year!
Christmas is the most important holiday for most people in the Philippines and they’ll start celebrating as early as possible! Formal celebration starts on December 16th, when families attend pre-dawn Mass. These services happen every morning until Christmas day. After Christmas, they keep on celebrating until the Feast of the Three Kings on the first Sunday in January.