As Holiday season is full in swing, you may be sipping mulled wine by the fire and eating mince pies but let’s take a look at some other popular traditions around the world…
Holland, Dutch children in Holland, eagerly await the arrival of Sinterklaas on December 6, St Nicholas day. Sinterklaas is a kind bishop, who traditionally wears a red robe and a tall pointed hat. Families celebrate St. Nicholas Eve at home with lots of good food, hot chocolate and a letterbanket, a "letter cake" made in the shape of the first letter of the family's last name.
Australia, December the 25th falls during summer vacation, so many of the country's Christmas festivities take place outdoors. Most people now have a cold Christmas dinner, or even a barbecue with seafood such as prawns and lobsters. The most popular event of the Christmas season is called Carols by Candlelight, this event brings everyone together.
Poland, 12 dishes are prepared representing the next 12 months of the year which are meant to bring you good luck. The meal is traditionally meat free, this is to remember the animals who took care of baby Jesus in the manger. It is custom that everyone has to eat or at least try some of each dish. For Catholics the 12 dishes symbolise Jesus's 12 disciples.
Philippines, there is a special tradition of having a Christmas lantern, which is called ‘paról’; the lantern is star-shaped, remembering the star of Bethlehem and mainly made out of bamboo and paper.
Yugoslavia, it is believed that if the Yule Log flame goes out, it is a symbol of bad luck. A member of the family is elected to stand guard over it during the night.
Hong Kong, people send Christmas cards, many of which are home made using Chinese craft techniques. Winterfest is also famous for its New Year's countdown and displays of lights and fireworks all over the city. These large displays light up all the skyscrapers and buildings.
Oman, the only country beginning with the letter O, family elders distribute sweets and cookies to the entire family.
Lithuania, the meal starts when the first stars can be seen in the night sky. If it's cloudy, the 'head of the house' decides when the meal will start. Sometimes an apple is cut into as many people at the meal and is shared, this remembers the apple eaten in the Garden of Eden.
Italy, a nativity scene called a ‘presepe’, is usually put up in churches, town squares and houses, it is for many the most important part of Christmas decorations.
Denmark, most people attend a Church Service on Christmas Eve late afternoon to hear the Christmas Story. It's also traditional to give animals a treat on Christmas Eve, so some people go for a walk in the park or woods and take food to give the animals and birds.
Argentina, houses are beautifully decorated with lights and wreaths of green, gold, red and white flowers whist red and white garlands are hung on the doors of houses. The Christmas Eve night tradition is to light 'globos' (paper decorations) that float into the night, the sky is filled with them on Christmas Eve after midnight.
Yemen, on Christmas Eve there is an all-night service that features worship, a bonfire, carolling and blessings from the Bishop.
S pain, 12 grapes are eaten within the 12 strokes of the clock at Midnight on New Year’s Eve! Each grape represents a month of the coming year, so if you eat the twelve grapes, you are said to be lucky in the New Year.
We wish all our freelance professionals, customers and friends a very happy holidays!
Vandu Language Services is based in Lewes, Sussex and has been helping organisations overcome the language barrier since 1999. We provide interpreting, translation, bilingual advocacy and cross cultural training for when you need to communicate clearly across cultures.