Christmas Traditions Worldwide

Julia Moyer, Staff Writer

We can probably all agree that Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. In fact, Christmas is the most celebrated holiday in all of America. Other countries enjoy celebrating this holiday just as much as we do here in the states. To put a little twist on this season, let’s look at how other countries have their own traditions that make this holiday so special for them.

     “The Giant Lantern Festival,” held in the Philippines, will  without a doubt knock your stockings off. Every year, the city of San Fernando, also known as the Christmas capital, celebrates Christmas with this unique custom. According to a website about traveling, “The lanterns are illuminated by electric bulbs that sparkle in a kaleidoscope of patterns.” These beautiful lanterns can be as big as six meters in size and they’re made up entirely of Japanese origami paper (

   A hilarious holiday tradition called “The Yule Lads” takes place in Iceland. “In the 13 days leading up to Christmas, 13 tricksy troll-like characters come out to play in Iceland.” These lads dress up and visit children all across the country. The boys and girls leave out their nicest pair of shoes and if they are good, they get gifts, but if they are naughty, they get rotten potatoes. These mischievous Yule Lads have amusing names that fit with the trouble they like to stir up. For example, some of their names are: spoon-licker, pot-scraper, bowl-licker, and sausage-swiper (

   This next Christmas tradition sure doesn’t seem like a good way to spread holiday cheer. In Austria, men dress up as a character named Krampus, which is a beast-like creature who is known to be “St. Nicholas’ evil accomplice.” The story of Krampus is that “…he captures the naughtiest children and whisks them away in his sack.” Krampus’s goal is to scare children into the holiday spirit with loud chains and bells ( Interestingly enough, there’s even a scary movie all about this particularly frightening character. I don’t know about you, but seeing Krampus at Christmas time wouldn’t be merry or bright.

   In the United States, a common tradition is to decorate the house with glowing lights and adorable holiday novelties to make for a cheery environment. A website about holidays explained, “Evergreen trees are seen to be established in every home and are beautifully decorated with colored lights, tinsel, angels, stars and bright ornaments.” In addition, many people go to church on Christmas day since it is known to be the birth of Jesus. Indulging in a Christmas dinner, opening presents, caroling around the neighborhood and sending out goofy family Christmas cards top the holiday to-do list as well ( Some cities and states like to put their own spin on merrymaking. According to People Magazine, at San Diego’s Seaport Village you can get your picture taken with surfing Santa, while in Mobile, Alabama, a multitude of citizens wear pointy ears and cruise the city during Elfapalooza (

   “Every Christmas, my family’s tradition is to go to the Hotel del Coronado and look at the lights,” said Senior Brittany Alvarez. “Then, we go home and eat leftovers from the night before, since we celebrate on Christmas Eve,” she added.

   If you are looking for unique ways to deck the halls or bring joy to your world during the holidays, ask your friends about their family or cultural traditions. Across the world, Christmas is filled with happy and wacky ways of celebrating. Just because we are too old to believe in Santa doesn’t mean we can’t experience the magic of the season.