Chasing Santa: Christmas celebrations around the globe

Holidays

Gift with world map wrapping paper

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOTV)- The Christmas season: one of the most cozy and quaint times of year. Past traditions bring up those old feelings of nostalgia and treasured memories. Starting new traditions help build different attitudes for the future in both ourselves and our children. So maybe this year, consider this new tradition: celebrating the Christmas traditions of people around the globe.

A-Christmas-around-the-globe kind of holiday is not only educational, but it also prepares our children to be more loving to our neighbors. It helps them to understand that just because people might act, speak, or look different themselves, that doesn’t mean those differences are in someway wrong. Celebrating both old and new traditions is the perfect opportunity to show our kids that diversity does not detract from our way of living, but just like the new traditions, it adds celebration to our lives.

Here are some traditions to try with your family this year:

Philippines:

Every year during the holiday season, people in the Philippines compete to create the most elaborate and beautiful lantern. They are often giant and attract tourists around the globe. Celebrate this with your family by creating your own lanterns and decorating them! Be sure to light them up at night and enjoy the beauty of their light!

Christmas lanterns

Venezuela:

On Christmas Eve, the residents of Caracas, Venezuela head to Mass on roller blades. Maybe you don’t go to Mass or feel it’s a bit sacrilegious to slide into the pew with your hottest blades on, so maybe consider substituting this with a blade in the nearest rink, or if it’s cold out, a little ice skating on the local pond might be more practical. Plus it’s a great way to get your kids to burn off some energy!

Kids roller blading.

Columbia:

Celebrate Christmas the Colombian way by lighting small candles in your windowsills on Día de las Velitas. Columbians often put the small candles or paper lanterns in their windowsills in honor of the Virgin Mary. Have your kids light candles on a windowsill after it gets dark out, they can even add some decorations to their candles to make it more fun!

Small, colorful candles.

Iceland:

Plenty of folklore lies in Iceland’s history that is carried on to today, one of those stories tells of the Yule-Lads. The Yule-Lads are thirteen pranksters who travel throughout Iceland doing mischievous things and leaving behind presents for the children who place shoes by their windowsills. Assign each of your kids to be one of the elves, before heading to bed each night, have the whole family put out one of their shoes. Then it’s up to the child to create a little homemade, slightly mischievous gift to each person.

Homemade gnome on a mossy rocks.

Japan:

Tired cooks of the family will rejoice at this great tradition! In Japan, Christmas is not an official holiday, but many citizens eat Kentucky Fried Chicken for dinner on Christmas! The food chain released the slogan “Kentucky for Christmas” back in the seventies, and since then, eating KFC has been an unofficial pastime! Consider eating some of the Colonel’s chicken for dinner at some point this Holiday season!

Friend chicken.

Netherlands:

Sinterklaas is the Dutch version of Santa Claus. Every year, little Dutch children put their wooden shoes, full of carrots, by the fire so that Sinterklaas can take the carrots for his horse, and replace them with presents. Instead of stockings, have your kids put their shoes by the fire, or if you’re really dedicated, buy some wooden shoes instead of stockings this year!

Sinterklaas hat, staff, and Bible.

South Africa:

Heads up! This one is for the adventurous out there! Munching on some fried caterpillars are the top food choice of children in South Africa! The Pine Tree Emperor Moth is the famous Christmas caterpillar of choice! If you’re not feeling quite so brave about this Christmas celebration, consider gummy worms instead!

Fried caterpillars.

Norway:

Hide your brooms if you’re going to celebrate the Norwegian way! In Norway, the old folklore has it that on Christmas Eve, witches come out and try to steal the brooms of the villagers.Because of this, Norwegians often hide their brooms on Christmas Eve. Take this tradition home with your family and challenge your kids to find the most clever hiding spot!

Broom against a blue barn.

Israel:

The Festival of Lights in Israel celebrates the Jewish celebration, Hanukkah. The celebration often includes lighting candle as well as eating foods cooked in olive oil. Celebrate this with your family by eating one of the many delicious foods, often jelly-filled doughnuts or cheese pancakes, called “cheese-latkes.”

Hanukkah celebration food and candles.

Although there are hundreds of different celebrations, these are just a few traditions from around the world. Maybe one of these traditions is something you recognize and already practice with your family! Or maybe none of them are familiar to you. Either way, teaching our children to not be afraid of differences, but to love them instead, is one step we can take to raise up a more loving world.

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