15 Christmas Traditions to Steal From Around the World
From games to decorations to (of course!) the food, you’ll want to try these global Christmas traditions for yourself.
Bake a surprise-filled cake like Spain doesiStock/CarmenMurillo
Although traditionally eaten on January 6 (Three Kings’ Day), Roscón de Reyes is a Christmas treat enjoyed throughout Spain. It’s a large, round bundt bread covered in glaze and topped with jellied fruit. Hidden inside is a coin or baby Jesus figurine; whoever finds the baked-in treasure is said to have good luck in the New Year. Bake your own and hide something inside, then see who ends up with the good luck surprise! Don’t miss these 14 other holiday traditions.
Honor your lost loved ones like the PortugueseiStock/Alija
In Portugal, you live on even in death. The Portuguese have what is known as “consoda,” a Christmas feast where they set places and leave food for loved ones who have died. Put your own twist on the tradition by gathering around the table and sharing favorite memories of family members who have passed away while you enjoy your meal. Here are 14 Christmas cookie baking hacks to help you win the holiday season.
Leave a shoe by the fireplace like they do in The Netherlands
December 25 isn’t nearly as big of a celebration as December 5 is in The Netherlands. This is when Sinterklaas (which is where “Santa Claus” came from) brings presents for all the good children. If they’re bad, they’ll be put in a sack and taken away to Madrid, where Sinterklaas lives, for a year to learn how to behave. According to Dutch tradition, Sinterklaas travels to The Netherlands and Holland once a year with his helpers called “Zwarte Pieten,” or “Black Peters.” The night before Sinterklaas arrives, children leave out shoes and sing songs. Some families leave out shoes every Saturday until “Sinterklaasavond” (St. Nicholas’ Eve) to celebrate the tradition that Sinterklaas makes weekly visits. If the children are good, they’ll wake up to a treat hiding in their shoe. Now, find out the history behind 10 Christmas traditions.
Forget milk and cookies–New Zealand Santa enjoys beer and pineapple chunks
Christmas in New Zealand is, more often than not, celebrated on the beach or on a boat. Cold ham and salad are pretty standard Christmas foods, as well. Don’t be surprised if you see Santa wearing “jandals” (New Zealand sandals) or an “All Blacks” rugby shirt instead of his typical red apparel, either. Santa doesn’t get cookies and milk in NZ. Instead, children typically leave out pineapple chunks and beer for Santa and carrots for his reindeer. Sometimes the holidays are just unavoidably awkward–here are 9 ways to get through tricky etiquette situations.
Cook a global Christmas feastiStock/Kokkai-Ng
If you don’t mind straying from your own traditional Christmas meal, test out seasonal dishes eaten around the world. Italy is known for the Feast of Seven Fishes (seven dishes centered around different seafood), Mexico pairs its turkey with mole sauce, Germans love pot roast (or any meat smothered in gravy), savory meat pie shines in Canada, the Swedes enjoy sweet saffron buns, and the list goes on. Perhaps most surprising is a Japanese favorite that fits right into America’s own Southern traditions: fried chicken (thanks to a particularly successful marketing campaign years ago, Christmas is one of KFC’s busiest days in Japan). Not in the mood to cook a Christmas feast? Go out to eat at a restaurant and other things to do on Christmas day.