Christmas around the world

Eric Jeffries, Student Writer

A mother’s car screeches to a halt in a crowded toy store parking lot. She turns off her car while taking a deep breath before opening her door and stepping out into the frigid night air. She throws the hood of her bulky parka up and shoves her hands deep into her pockets. While walking across the parking lot toward the brightly lit business, she can’t help but smile when thinking about the excitement and disbelief on her son’s face upon seeing the bike under the tree on Christmas morning.

At the same time, the fresh cut aroma of a Douglas Fir fills a suburban flat. The inhabitants of the home sip hot chocolate and admire the brilliant ornaments and twinkling lights that adorn their new tree. The sweet harmony of carolers serenading the December night is carried into the home by a brisk winter wind. To combat the cold, the family huddles around a crackling hearth while reminiscing on joyous happenings of Christmas past.

The previously described scenes epitomize two of the Holiday season’s finest qualities: gift giving and spending time with family and friends. These two actions make up the core of the Holiday Spirit, and it is something that is not confined to national borders. All around the world, during the month of December, the holly jolly spirit takes the globe by storm turning all the corners of the earth red and green. Upon contact with different cultures, the Christmas spirit takes on many different shapes and forms. Just as ethnic groups all over the planet don’t have the same cookie cutter customs and values, many different countries have many different Holiday traditions. The pictures below are our admission tickets into the lives of individuals partaking in Christmas celebrations around the world.



A massive straw goat is erected at the center of Northern European towns every holiday season. The “Yule Goat,” as it is called, stems from Scandinavia’s pagan past. This tradition doesn’t come without shenanigans however, every year the Yule goat is a risk of being burned to crisp by local vandals.

In the 1970’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken launched an advertising campaign so persuasive that it shaped a tradition that has lasted over 40 years.  Every Christmas Eve, millions of Japanese people flock to their local KFC for a “finger licking good” Holiday feast.

A special “pickle shaped” ornament is hung on German Christmas trees. On Christmas morning, when the children scurry down stairs, they don’t just tear into their gifts. It is tradition that the first child to find the Christmas pickle dangling from the tree is the first to open his or her presents.

Instead of decorating their trees with tinsel and a star on top, the Ukrainians drape their Christmas trees with spider webs and the web’s creepy inhabitants.

Tradition states that a monster of Icelandic legend terrorizes those who are not full of Christmas spirit come late December. The Yule Cat drags its victims back to its chilly cave for its very own Holiday feast.

In Slovakia the oldest man in the family chucks a heaping spoonful of pudding at the ceiling. The more pudding that sticks, the more luck the family is said to have for the upcoming year.  

Instead of Santa Claus, in Italy, the children receive gifts from Befana, the Christmas witch. On the night of Christmas Eve, Befana rides around on her broom delivering presents to all the good boys and girls.