Thursday, 14 December 2017

Christmas Festivities Around the World

by Katie Sharp

As the festive season approaches, we fall into our regular holiday traditions, such as eating mince pies and reading “The Night Before Christmas” on Christmas Eve, and opening presents on Christmas Day. However, while we are aware of our own traditions, it’s often interesting to see the range of diverse and unique festive traditions from around the world.

Night of the Radishes

Every 23rd December, the city of Oaxaca, Mexico, holds an event dedicated to the carving of oversized radishes. The competition, formally created in 1897, mainly consists of intricate festive sceneries created with radishes.

Tió de Nadal

Tió de Nadal, or “Christmas Log”, is a Catalonian Christmas tradition where, on 8th December, a hollow log (typically decorated to have a face) is bundled in a blanket and “fed” until Christmas Day. Children are required to care for the Tió de Nadal until Christmas Day, when children hit the log with a stick until the log “defecates” presents to children that have successfully cared for the log.

KFC in Japan

After a very successful marketing campaign, KFC has become a staple Christmas tradition in Japan, with an estimated 3.6 million families enjoying the fried chicken on Christmas Eve. The tradition is so ingrained that KFC’s Special Christmas Dinner often requires ordering it weeks in advance, or otherwise queuing for hours.

The Gävle Goat

In Scandinavia, the Yule Goat is a Christmas symbol, originating from the worship of Thor and his goat-drawn chariot. The Gävle Goat is a traditional Christmas display in Gävle, Sweden, which is a giant straw version of the Yule Goat. However, while the Gävle Goat is a tradition in itself, another related tradition seems to be burning the straw goat, as the goat has been destroyed by fire almost every year since its erection in 1966. (As of 14th December, the Gävle Goat is still standing, beating 2016’s record of burning down after less than 24 hours).

“Dinner For One”

Every New Year’s Eve in Germany, an English-language comedy sketch from 1968, “Dinner For One”, is broadcast on television and it is watched by around half of the population nationally. As a result, it is the most frequently repeated TV programme ever, despite being virtually unknown in the UK.

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