Holiday Traditions Around the World

St. Nicholas – There is a reason Santa is often called St. Nick. based on St. Nicholas, a fourth-century Greek bishop who protected children, among others. St. Nicholas Day is still commonly celebrated across Europe on December 6th.

Christmas Boats in Greece – In Greece you will often find boats festooned with strings of lights, whether in the water or in the town square. It may have something to do with Greece’s maritime history.

Las Posadas, Mexico – Las Posadas (meaning inns), are nightly processionals for the nine days proceeding Christmas Eve. The posadas recreate the tradition of Jesus and Mary seeking shelter.

Sufganiyot, Israel – Sufganiyot, jelly-filled doughnuts (think Paczki on Fat Tuesday) topped with powdered sugar, are commonly enjoyed by Sephardic Jews (of Spanish, Middle Eastern and African origin) during Hanukkah.

Winter Solstice, United Kingdom – Winter Solstice is an ancient tradition — possibly dating as far back as the Stone Age — that observes the shortest day of the year. England’s Stonehenge is thought to be one of the earliest epicenters for marking the longest night of the year due to the placement of the stones.

Yule Goat, Scandinavia – Yes, Yule Goat, not Yule Log. Throughout Scandinavia, especially Sweden, Norway and Finland, locals celebrate a variation of the Santa Claus legend, which involves him riding a goat instead of a sleigh pulled by reindeer. As such, it’s common to find goat ornaments everywhere.

Junkanoo, Bahamas – Not to be confused with Carnival, a Catholic tradition associated with Lent, the immensely popular street festival called Junkanoo claims different roots. Locals believe it evolved from an 18th-century tradition when slaves would celebrate having three days off during Christmas.

Ded Moroz, Russia – While much of the world’s Christian community embraces Santa Claus or St. Nick, Russians welcome Ded Moroz each year, an ancient figure from Slavic mythology. Also called Father Frost, the Santa-like character brings gifts to children, except he delivers them on New Year’s Eve.

So, if you’re travelling around Christmas time, here are some fun things to try!

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