With a chill in the air, frost appearing on the ground, and bells ringing on every corner, the holidays have arrived in full force bringing families the world over together for a time-honored celebration as one year comes to a beautiful close, and another rises filled with potential.
This year, load up your sleigh with a few new traditions that help to bring a lustrous new shine to the holiday season and create memories of joy and new family traditions that will last a lifetime.
12 Holiday Traditions from cultures around the world to implement with your family
A Little Giving – The world over, many countries have Christmas traditions the revolve around the aspects of giving and charity, but the Ukraine has a tradition that keeps the focus of the holiday on the spirit of charity.
Based around an old folktale of a poor widow with no money to decorate her tree, yet who awakens on Christmas morn to find that the spiders have spun webs to gold and silver, sparkling webs are hung throughout the holiday decor to help keep the household mindful of the those less fortunate, and to remind everyone to give back to their community during the holiday season.
An Early Start – Germany, world-renowned for their bright and dazzling Christmas markets, likes to get an early jump on the holiday season with St. Nikolas day on December 5th.
Santa eschews the traditional Christmas day gift drop in favor of an early in the month stop by. During his visit, he leaves a small gift in a shoe or boot left outside the front door overnight to help ring in the holiday season, spreading Christmas cheer a few days early.
Up The Ante – In Ireland, children and their parents work together to give Santa an upgrade from a plate of cookies and a glass of milk, opting instead for a pint of Guinness and a homemade meal, commonly a mincemeat pie.
This tradition gives a chance to pass down cooking skills, traditional recipes, and offers a tasty homemade treat for Christmas Eve night.
A New Start To A New Year – Finnish tradition holds that the night before Santas arrival is the perfect time to cleanse your body and your mind to get the new year started off on the right foot.
Christmas Eve often includes a family trip to the sauna or spa to help relieve some serious holiday stress and help everyone get ready for the start of a new year.
Let’s Get Together – On the island nation of Martinique, the holiday season is shared not only with family, but the community as a whole.
Throughout the run-up to the holiday, families will drop by their neighbors’ homes with traditional Christmas foods to spend an evening together catching up, singing carols, and pushing any ills of the previous year by the wayside to help the community stay whole moving forward into the new year.
Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas – In Norway, before the big day when the whole extended family gets together, Little Christmas is celebrated to give each part of the family a chance to celebrate in their own way.
While there is no universal way to celebrate Little Christmas, it is traditionally held on the 23rd of December, marked by the family coming together to decorate, carol, and enjoy traditional yuletide treats.
Warm Weather Winter – In the southern hemisphere, Christmas comes at the height of summer, meaning that those winter days spent making snowmen and playing reindeer games that many of us are used to are replaced by warm weather traditions like a barbeque.
South Africa and New Zealand are both well known for large family cookouts on Christmas day, with everyone bringing a dish to share with the family, and the Christmas ham or turkey replaced with shrimp, fish, burgers, and steaks among other cookout fare.
A Homemade Holiday – Swiss families put a brand new twist onto the age-old tradition of advent calendars to help make the run up to holiday a little sweeter.
Families get together at the end of November to hand make DIY advent calendars and then stuff them with homemade delights and treats, with the biggest gift saved for the 24th of December, creating a month-long celebration of family fun.
Light It Up – In El Salvador, the 24th and 25th of December bring on the fireworks a little early to celebrate the Christmas season.
Families and communities come together to put on a dazzling display that lights up the night sky and bring the Holiday season to a beautiful close.
A Cleansing New Year – Prior to New Year’s Eve, Ecuadoran families will make a straw man representative of the prior year, and each family member will write a note with their regrets and failings of the previous year to be pinned to the straw man on the big night.
As part of the festivities to ring in the new year, the straw man is lit a flame, burning with it the mistakes of the previous year in the hopes that each person will be able to start the new year off with the disappointments of the past left firmly behind.
A Late Dinner – In Japan, families gather together ahead of the new year for one final meal together, with a full day of festivities stretching well into the evening.
Around 11 pm, the final meal of the year is served and quickly finished off to allow families time to make their way to the local shrine or temple to help clean up and ask for prosperity in the year to come.