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Christmas celebrations in different countries !!

Don’t you just love Christmas  !!  I think the best part of Christmas more than Christmas Day itself is the Christmas Season leading up all the way to the special day. The lights, the Christmas trees being present in every corner of the streets, Santa Claus statues towering over you, people in their winter clothes. Oh and the best part Christmas offers, discounts and sales wherever you go  !!

There’s just so much of joy and happiness all around. Of course, the family getting together and the dinners with each of us having our own traditional ways of celebrating this beautiful time. But have you ever been curious as to how the people from around celebrate Christmas ? And did you know that some of their traditional ways are not trees and red sweaters !! Take a look at how some of the unique ways of how people celebrate Christmas from different countries !! You're definitely in for some serious surprises !!

1. Venezuela:

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Venezuela

Every year during Christmas Eve in Caracas, Venezuela, the city’s citizens go to the church. Nothing really shocking in that right? But guess how these folks go to church? By roller skating, yes you heard that right. The city’s residents go to Church by skating through the streets on their roller blades.

The tradition has become so popular that the roads throughout the city are closed to vehicles so that the skaters can skate to church safely without making any accidents. When the skater gets back home, a Christmas dinner of “tamales” awaits them. The dish is a wrap made out of cornmeal dough and stuffed with meat which is later steamed.

2. Norway: 

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Norway

Upon hearing the kind of Christmas tradition practiced in Norway, you’re probably going to say No Way !!  On Christmas Eve, the people from Norway hide their brooms.  This particular tradition actually originated centuries ago. Cos people believed during those times that witches and evil spirits came on Christmas Eve looking for brooms to ride on them. And the belief still exists among the people of the present day that they choose to hide their brooms in the most secretive and safest place in the house, lest the witches find them and steal them.

Come to think of it, I wonder would the Harry Potter fans would do?

3. Austria:

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Austria

In Austria, St. Nicholas, the Austria version of Santa Claus rewards the little children with gifts who were supposedly in their good behavior all year. Whereas for the kids who weren’t in their best behavior, a beast-like demon creature called the Krampus roams the city streets frightening kids and capturing the ones who were the naughtiest throughout the year.  Normally it is the first week of December where young men dress up as the Krampus on the eve of St. Nicholas Day taking up the job of frightening little kids while making their presence know by clattering chains and ringing bells.

 Something kinda similar to Halloween right, only this time you either get the candy or a good scare from the Krampus man. 

4. Sweden: 

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Sweden

Sweden follows a tradition that involves a twist.  The tradition dates back to the year 1966 where a 13 meter tall Yule Goat built of straw stands in the center of Gavle’s Castle Square for the Advent. However, this particular tradition unintentionally led to a new kind of tradition where people try and burn down the Giant Goat. So far the goat has been burnt around 37 times.

Is it just me, cos I’m getting some serious vibes from The Wicker Man Chronicles starring Nicolas Cage. “Not the Goat !!!!!!”

5. Germany:

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Germany

St Nikolaus or the German version of Santa Claus travels on his trusted donkey in the middle of the night on December 6 and leaves little gifts like chocolates and toys in the shoes of all the good little children all across Germany during the year. St Nikolaus also visits children in schools or even at home and if the child is able to sing a song, recite a poem or even draw a picture, the child is rewarded with either sweets or a small present.

But at the same time St. Nick is assisted by his creepy looking companion Knecht Ruprecht. A devil looking creature dressed in dark clothes with an ugly beard who would give children a good scare if he found out that the children misbehaved during the year. (kinda like the Krampus’s cousin)

6. Colombia:

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Colombia

The start of the Christmas season is marked by a day called Little Candles Day or Dia des las Velitas). In the honor of the Virgin Mary and the Immaculate Conception, the citizens place candles and paper lanterns on their windows, balconies or their front porch. The candle lighting tradition has become so popular in the place that entire towns and cities throughout the country are illuminated with lights. Also, some of the best kin dare found in a place called Quimbaya where neighborhoods compete with each other to see who can create the most beautiful arrangement.

This probably sums up the literal definition of Silent Night,  Holy night !!

7. Toronto:

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Toronto

In the great city of Toronto, the annual Cavalcade of Lights marks the official start to the holiday season. One of the earliest Cavalcade festivals took place in the year 1967. The event was held to display Toronto’s newly constructed City Hall and Nathan Phillips Square. The Square and a  Christmas tree are illuminated by 3000,000 energy efficient LED lights that shine from dusk all the way till it officially becomes New Year.   Even better you’ll be in for a show of dazzling fireworks brightening the skies along with some ice skating. 

8. Philippines:

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Philippines

Ever year on a Saturday before Christmas Eve, the city of San Fernando hosts a festival called Ligligan Parul Sampernandu or The Giant Green Lantern Festival. Coincidentally San Fernando is also known as the Christmas Capital of the Philippines. The festival attracts people from all over the country including tourists from different parts of the world. Around 11 villages take part in the festival and a competition that involves the people gathering around to build the most complex and beautiful lantern.

Initially, the lanterns were simple designs made from Japanese origami paper and measured about half a meter in diameter. However, with the tremendous amount of competition has led to lanterns being made from a variety of materials and reach up to around 6 meters in size. The lanterns are also illuminated by electric bulbs and shine to form a dazzling array of kaleidoscopic patterns.

9. Japan:

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Japan

While Christmas is not really considered as a major festival in Japan, there still are a few practices that maintain the traditions of giving gifts and light displays. But the greatest part of celebrating Christmas in Japan is ...going to KFC. What may sound only a normal thing for a few is actually a tradition in Japan. On the day of Christmas, people flock into Kentucky Fried Chicken Restaurants and feast on loads of the world famous deep fried chicken.

Guess the new slogan for KFC during Christmas should be, ”A Merry Kentucky Fried Christmas”. Feeling hungry yet, yes you are !!

10.Iceland:

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Iceland

13 days prior to Christmas, a group of 13 playful troll-like characters from Icelandic folklore comes out to play.  These guys are called The Yule Lads (jolasveinar in Icelandic) visit the kids across the country over a period of 13 nights leading to Christmas. For each night, the kids place some of their best shows by the window, with a different yule lad coming each night and placing gifts for the so-called good kids and leaving rotten potatoes for the naughty kids. These guys come dressed in traditional Icelandic costume and can be downright playful or mischievous depending on the kind of character they’re portraying. (Check out the names of the 13 characters on the internet, if you’re down to some serious research about these pranksters).

One look at them and they’ll probably remind you of the brave warrior dwarves from the Hobbit movie, only these guys are the more playful kind.

11. United States

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United States

Ever heard about the festival of Hanukkah, no ? Alright the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah is celebrated with much splendor across the United States with on e of the most elaborate events taking place on a national stage. Ever since the period of 1979, a giant nine meter Menorah has been raised on the White House grounds for a total of 8 days and nights during the grand festival of Hanukkah.

The ceremony in Washington D.C includes speeches, music, kid’s activities and most importantly the lighting of the Menorah. The lighting of the first candle at the White House takes place at 4 p.m and an additional candle is lit on the following nights.