Art, Travel

Five countries, five traditions: bring on the festive season!


The best time of year has finally arrived! So what does Christmas represent, and why do Christians, and non-Christians, celebrate it with such joy and enthusiasm? To be exact, Christmas is an annual Christian festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, son of God. The majority of Christians celebrate this holy day on December the 25th, in the Gregorian calendar. Christmas brings many traditions with it, and these traditions vary by country. Let’s take a look at some of these!

1. Yule Goat – Sweden

Yule Goat


Although we may associate Christmas with reindeer; in Sweden, The Yule Goat has been a Swedish Christmas symbol dated all the way back to ancient pagan festivals. Historians say that the goat figures first appear in the Nicholas period.  

According to the official ‘Gävle goat’ website, the goat is more than 42 feet high, 23 feet wide, and weighs 3.6 tons. Since 1966, each year, the huge goat can be seen in the center of Gävle’s Castle Square. Nowadays, we see this symbol as an ornament on most Christmas trees. Some people even place big versions of the goat in their yard as a holiday decoration.

2. KFC – Japan



Christmas isn’t a national holiday in Japan but who says that they can’t celebrate? The tradition began in 1974 after a successful campaign; “Kurisumasu ni wa kentakkii!” or “Kentucky for Christmas!”. 

Christmas remains a newness in Japan. However in recent years, a new and different tradition has appeared: Kentucky Fried Chicken on Christmas, whereby people get KFC for the holiday. The brand supply Christmas themed buckets to celebrate. 

3. Hiding Brooms – Norway



Perhaps one of the most unorthodox Christmas traditions can be found in Norway, where people hide brooms and mops on Christmas night to avoid evil spirits. This is based on a belief that evil spirits return to earth on Christmas, taking the cleaning tools and using them to fly through the sky. 

Brooms are hidden in the safest place in the house to stop them being snatched by the evil spirits!


4. Candles – Ireland



Did you know that Irish people put candles in front of their windows at Christmas time? This is not a random thing of course; they serve as a symbol to welcome strangers and to remember those who are far away from home. 

According the tradition on Christmas Eve, an Irish family who wished to have a priest come stay in their home and offer them the sacraments would covertly signal this request with a candle lit in the window. Traditionally, the candle was lit by the youngest person in the family and had to be extinguished by a child named Mary.

5. Krampus – Austria



The country of Austria believe in a unique legend in which a devil creature called Krampus joins their St. Nicholas festivals on the 6th of December. Children are asked for a list of their good and bad behaviors; good children are rewarded but bad children worry what Krampus might bring them on Christmas morning. 

There are rumors that Krampus roams the streets to hunt ‘bad’ children. If you happen to be in Austria over the festive period, you might expect to spot people parading around in elaborate (and quite scary) Krampus costumes, trying to intimidate those around them. Seems like Christmas in Austria is not just fun and games!

Hope you enjoyed our round-up of five intriguing Christmas traditions around the world..