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10 surprising Christmas traditions from around the world

In Latvia, Christmas traditions form a synergy between pagan rituals and Christianity. We happily combine decorating the Christmas tree, sending season’s greetings, putting candles in the Advent wreath, adorning our homes and welcoming Father Christmas with mummers, called “ķekatas”, Yule logs pulling, nine dishes on the table, various Winter Solstice traditions, fortune-telling and lead-pouring. But how is it done elsewhere?

Pudding with a surprise in England

In England, the traditional Christmas pudding is served in the Christmas morning. It is usually prepared well in advance, with plenty of dried fruits, nuts, brandy and spices. Traditionally, Britons were also using pudding for fortune-telling, for example, when making the pudding, they would drop a silver coin, ring or thimble into it. If you got a slice of pudding with a coin, you would have plenty of money next year, if you are lucky to get a ring – marriage is in the cards, though the ones receiving a thimble will remain an old maid or a single man.

Rice porridge in Finland and fried chicken in Japan

Everyone knows traditional Christmas dishes – gingerbread, tangerines, roast, or the Latvian favourite – grey peas with bacon, while it turns out that Finnish families on Christmas morning traditionally are having porridge made of rice and milk, topped with cinnamon and butter. Many Japanese opt for a very original festive meal, heading out to the local…”Kentucky Fried Chicken” to dine. Turns out this tradition started in 1974 after KFC’s extremely successful marketing campaign, and the tradition continues to this day.

Lucky boots in Iceland

Many of us follow the American tradition and hang socks by the fireplace so Santa Claus could fill them with goodies. In Iceland the socks are replaced with boots. Twelve nights before Christmas children place their boots by the window and head to bed. In the morning they find candies in their boots (if they’re good) or rotten potatoes (!) if the little ones misbehaved.

Apples for Christmas

In China one of the most common Christmas traditions, especially amongst young people, is to send cellophane-wrapped apples as gifts. Frequently apples are sold with printed messages – „love”, „joy”, „Merry Christmas!” Chinese believe that if you eat an apple during Christmas, you will have a safe and peaceful year ahead!

Stars and mystical creatures

In Poland the festive dinner only begins when the first star appears in the night sky, and an extra seating is left at the table for an uninvited guest. But in Austria children are hoping that this unexpected guest will not be Krampus – the devil resembling horned creature scaring naughty children during holidays.

Red candle in the window and red blossoming tree

Irish people in Christmas leave a tall, red candle in a front window to welcome warmth of the holiday season in their home. In New Zealand the Christmas time falls in the middle of the winter, so instead of the Christmas tree they decorate Pohutukawa tree that blooms with red flowers exactly in December. Red flowers are a popular festive ornament in Mexico as well where during Christmas time poinsettia flowers are widely used in holiday arrangements.

Linearis wishes you bright, warm and colourful Christmas celebrated in the best local and global traditions!