7 unique ways Christmas is celebrated around the world
Posted on 25/12/2020

CultureSweden

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Christmas might just be the most anticipated holiday of the year. It's enjoyed by people all over the world and every community follows their own unique traditions during this festive season. Some of these rituals might be distinctly different to how Christmas is celebrated in your country, but that's what makes this holiday so special!

Feast on KFC in Japan

Feast on KFC in Japan
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You might be used to celebrating Christmas with a grand home cooked feast that includes delectable treats like roast chicken, mashed potatoes and an assortment of desserts but in Japan Christmas is done a little differently. The Japanese have made their own ritual which involves a huge bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken. This tradition started in 1974 when KFC launched their Christmas campaign called "Kentucky for Christmas!" They introduced brand new Christmas-themed menus and it was very successful. Since then KFC has been the go to place for the Japanese during Christmas and sometimes you have to wait more than two hours in line just to get your order in.

See the Gävle Goat in Sweden

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Every year, a giant straw goat is erected at the Castle Square in Central Gävle and it is called the Gävle Goat. The straw goat has been a symbol of this holiday for centuries in Sweden, however this colossal structure was only introduced to the people in 1966. The Gävle Goat is 13 metres high and it broke the world record for being the biggest straw goat back in 1985. It is constructed in the exact same spot every single year and you can watch the whole process online! It starts from the first Sunday of Advent and the goat is taken down after New Year's day.

Celebrate Ganna in Ethiopia

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Although Ethiopia has a strong connection with Christianity, Christmas is not celebrated on December 25 and it is not known as Christmas either. Ethiopians celebrate Ganna, their version of Christmas, on January 7. According to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, this is the day that Jesus was born and hence all the festivities take place around this time. During Ganna, Ethiopians get dressed up in all white and since it is strictly a religious holiday, they spend the entirety of their day participating in special services at their local church.

Eat Christmas porridge in Finland

Eat Christmas porridge in Finland
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This Finnish tradition is small, sweet and easy to replicate at your own household if you wish to change things up this Christmas. On Christmas morning, Finnish families cook up a batch of thick porridge that is made from rice, milk and butter. They dust cinnamon over the top and then hide one almond in just one of the bowls of porridge. Whoever gets the almond will be blessed with good fortune. The Finnish then spend the rest of their time celebrating in various different ways but almost all families will end their day relaxing in a steaming hot sauna.

Visit the Giant Lantern Festival in the Philippines

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Christmas in the Philippines is a big deal and Filipinos are known to go all out for their celebrations. The Saturday before Christmas, the city of San Fernando is decorated with large lanterns that symbolize the unwavering Christmas spirit. These lanterns are called parol and the tradition of lighting up the sky with many dazzling parols started in 1904. Each year the parols have been getting bigger with more spinning lights and colours. Thanks to this festival, San Fernando is known as the Christmas capital of the Philippines. Thousands of locals and tourists flock around the city to embrace the festivities and adore the magnificent lanterns.

Attend Rooster's Mass in Bolivia

The Misa del Gallo, also known as Rooster's Mass, is an important part of Bolivian Christmas. In Bolivia, many people believe that the birth of Jesus was first announced by roosters, who were strangely awake in the middle of that sacred night. Hence on Christmas Eve, many Bolivian families attend Misa del Gallo which is a midnight mass and it is also said that a few families bring roosters to church for this special occasion. After the service everyone heads home to enjoy an incredible Christmas meal together.

Exchange books in Iceland

Exchange books in Iceland
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If you're an avid reader then you will enjoy the tradition of Jolahokaflod, or the Christmas Book Flood. During Christmas, Icelanders often exchange books as presents and this tradition started during World War II. Back then, unlike most other commodities, paper was not in short supply and so books turned out to be the only gifts that people could exchange during Christmas. This turned Iceland into a book loving country and this tradition still holds strong today. After a nice Christmas dinner, Icelanders open their presents and spend the night together enjoying their new book with a hot beverage in their hand.